Laser cutting materials: Four new options available!
Posted By Amandine Richardot on Sep 12, 2018 | 0 comments
Are you familiar with our laser cutting service? To help you create the best projects, we’re unveiling four new materials! Baltic Birch (⅛”), POM (⅛”), Clear Acrylic (1/16”) and Mirrored Acrylic (⅛”) are the 4 new materials of our US catalog. POM and Clear Acrylic were available in our European catalog and were produced in our French Facilities and are now “made in USA”. We are also adding Baltic Birch and Mirrored Acrylic, brand-new products, only available on the US catalog. Discover these 4 materials and start making the most of them now!
Introducing our new laser cutting materials
Mirrored Acrylic is a clear acrylic with a mirrored film on one side. It combines the beauty of a glass mirror with the advantages of Acrylic and of Laser Cutting. Acrylic is shatter resistant, with high strength and high impact resistance. That makes it safer than a glass mirror, for a lower cost and a lighter weight.
However, Acrylic is less resistant to surface scratching than glass, because of its softness. It is also more flexible, thus large surfaces can be deformed.
Surface engraving on Mirrored Acrylic is something really specific. The mirrored film is removed after cutting and the surface will diffuse light.
Our Baltic Birch offers all the properties of a plywood. The alternance of the layer’s grain orientation makes those panels stronger and with better mechanical characteristics than hardwood in equivalent thickness.
Baltic Birch has slightly better mechanical properties than Maple plywood we already offer. It comes from the internal layer being thinnest on Baltic Birch than on the other Plywood, which makes its properties more isotropic. The main differences remain the color, lighter and more homogeneous than Maple, and the surface aspect. Indeed, Baltic Birch is rawer than maple.
Moreover, Baltic Birch can easily be hand worked if needed.
Our Acetal ⅛”, also know as POM, is the best material for parts that need good mechanical properties. It is a thermoplastic, easier to machine than various other engineering plastics, which makes it very popular.
Its high mechanical strength, stiffness and hardness make it a perfect material for applications that need properties halfway between plastic and metal materials. It also has a low thermal expansion and a low water absorption.
POM can easily be hand worked if needed.
The 1/16” Clear Acrylic is the same than the ⅛” clear acrylic we already offer, but thinner. It has the same properties. Thus, you can still benefit from its shiny surface and resistance, but for projects requiring thinner thicknesses.
When should you choose these materials
Mirrored Acrylic and glass mirror offer the same reflexion. However Acrylic is shatter resistant, impact resistant and has lightweight properties, which make it safer than glass for a lot of application. It is perfect for projects linked to children or places where safety is essential. Laser cutting offers freedom in terms of shapes and is an easy way to create assemblies with reflective parts.
Baltic Birch is a new wood we offer that opens more possibilities for assemblies and decorative projects. Its clear and homogeneous color make it easy to combine with other materials and colors. Baltic birch also has slightly better mechanical properties than Maple. It is the perfect material for small craft projects.
POM has the best mechanical properties. It is the perfect material of you need one which is impact-resistant or for parts transmitting stress such as gears, levers or mechanical stops. POM also gets good fatigue resistance and nice surface quality that make it perfect for guiding parts. Lastly, POM does not react with the majority of chemical components and stays efficient under high temperatures, that makes it a good choice for some laboratories projects.
You can use our 1/16 clear acrylic for the same reasons as the ⅛”. It is a weather resistant and impact resistant material, with a high strength. It is safer, lighter and cheaper than glass, and as transparent.
How to be successful in your Laser Cutting project
Laser cutting is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to produce quality 2D parts. Just a few details need to be taken into account, and they are easily manageable if you know how a laser cutter works and what its limits are.
How does a laser cutter work?
The work of a laser cut is to give the good amount of energy on the good spot to melt and evaporate the material. The energy comes through the laser beam focused on the area. The hardest step of the process is to monitor the amount of energy given to the point. As all processes, the monitoring of the laser beam might not be perfect. The beam isn’t focussed on a point but on an area (assimilated to a cylinder). When the beam is moving, a kerf appears.
The width of the kerf depends on the material and the thickness. It is indicated on the materials pages.
If you need precise dimensions for your final parts, assemblies for example, enter the kerf as a parameter in your CAD software. Thus, you will avoid to calculate manually all dimensions. It also allows to modify it easily if you want to change material.
Right-angle corners do not exist in laser cutting because of the kerf. The smallest bend radius available is the beam radius (which depends on the material and thickness). It can ruin assemblies if you forget about it. The easiest way to avoid it is to hollow the corners where you want parts to fit.