Aluminum for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving

Aluminum aluminum sharp aluminum circle aluminum laser
Aluminum Alu Sharp alu circle alu stock



Overview

Here you will find all the information, tricks, know-how, and advice to help you laser cut and laser engrave your model in our aluminum material. You will learn about the:

General information on our material

Our Aluminum Material

The aluminium we offer is called AlMg3. These aluminum sheets are manufactured using a continuous casting method: liquid aluminum ( AlMg3)  is inserted between two cylinders turning in opposite directions to create thin aluminum sheets from 3 to 9 mm. To obtain thinner sheets, the material is then laminated with a method called cold rolling. 

The material has a shiny polished surface which is not covered by a plastic film when we laser cut it. 

Processing Times and Pricing for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving

The price of laser cutting your design in aluminum is calculated automatically the moment it is placed online. As you modify your object and utilize our optimization tools, you will note that the price changes automatically. The pricing is based on a series of factors, including: quantity of materials used, labor, and machine manufacturing time - to name a few.

Your object is estimated to arrive in 4-7 business days. The estimated shipping time is also calculated automatically as the object is uploaded. 

Delivery time should be added to processing time and depends on the delivery option you choose.

Laser cutting technique


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Laser Cutting is a digital subtractive fabrication technique that consists in cutting or engraving a material by means of a laser. Laser Cutting can be used on a number of materials such as plastic, wood, cardboard, etc. The process involves cutting material using a powerful and highly accurate laser that focuses on a small area of the material. The high power density results in rapid heating, melting and partial or complete vaporizing of the material. Usually, a computer directs the high-power laser at the material and traces the path.

Laser Engraving Techniques 


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Laser Engraving (or Laser Etching) is a subtractive manufacturing method, that uses a laser beam to change the surface of an object. On metal, this process is not meant to be aesthetic: the design will be roughly engraved. It's typically used for serial numbers, references, or marks for later operations. To do so, the laser creates high heat that will vaporize the matter, thus exposing cavities that will form the final image. This method is quick, as the material is removed with each pulse of the laser.

Uses and Maintenance

Aluminum is a material that has several benefits, thanks to its ease of use and its durability.  Our aluminum material has a high corrosion resistance and a high strength compared to its weight . Even after the cutting process, the material has a smooth finish surface. The main advantage of aluminum, other than its weight/solidity ratio is that it doesn't need a rustproofing treatment .

Aluminum can conduct electricity but is not magnetic. 

Aluminum can be folded with the appropriate equipment.  It can also be sawed, drilled, bent, folded, painted, glued and silk-screened. It is a great material for interior design projects, decorative parts but also medical tooling or mechanical parts. The light weight of the material and the easy cleaning surface allows many applications in various industries such as aerospace, automotive or energy. For these reasons, aluminum is used in a range of industries including aircraft design and build, boat building and construction industries for example.  It is the world's second most widely used metal behind iron. 


To avoid scratches on the surface, it is better to avoid sharp edges and hard friction on the aluminum surface. To protect it, we recommend using a clear lacquer or light oil on the surface.  The back of the sheets are more sensible to scratches and stains but those are easily removable with a light abrasive.  

The polished aspect of the surface is rather easy to maintain. To clean aluminum, use water or mild soap with a cloth.

Here is a close view of the surface of the aluminum:

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One thing to note is that there is a small variation of color on the borders of the aluminum sheets after having been laser cutted as we can see in the following picture:

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Thickness


There are multiple thickness options available through Sculpteo  :

  • 1 mm
  • 2 mm
  • 3 mm


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Design Guidelines

Laser Precision for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving

With Aluminum, just like for our other metals, we only do line cutting and line engraving, no surface engraving.

The other difference between laser cutting metal and laser cutting other materials is that there is no need to take the kerf into account. You can design your part exactly in the dimensions that you want your final object to have. The laser will cut and line engrave your object with extreme precision. 

This has a consequence, however, which is that one line can’t separate two objects. It can only separate one object from the scraps of materials that won’t be used because they are used as a primer for the laser cutting.

With metal laser cutting, it is not possible to have two lines that crosses each other in a same file. 

So if you wish to laser cut two objects in metal, you can’t let them share one line, they’ll have to be designed as two separate objects.


Minimum Distance Between Two Lines

Thickness of the material 1 mm 2 mm 3 mm
Minimum distance between two lines 2 mm 2 mm 3 mm


Maximum and Minimum Dimensions for Cuts and Engraving 

Minimum dimension 15 x 15 mm
Maximum dimension 1000 x 1000 mm 


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The maximum size of your designs is limited by the dimensions of the machine's cutting table. Your designs must abide by the measures below in order to be cut/engraved by our machines.

Minimal dimensions may be necessary for the laser cutting, but not for engraving. When you load your design onto our website in order to have it cut, we can't detect, based only on the information contained in the file, whether you wish to keep the outer or inner surface. Therefore, if you wish to keep the inner surface, you must respect minimal dimensions. Indeed, if the surface is too small, it could be lost under the cutting table's grid. If you wish to keep only the outer surface, this constraint does not apply.


Warning

Be very careful to respect the minimum size of 15x15 mm: objects of this size are all susceptible to not be delivered.

You can refer to our tutorial for more precision and guidance for your vector construction.


Prepare Your Texts for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving 

It is possible to cut/engrave texts. These texts must be vectorized, just like all the files sent onto the website in order to be cut or engraved.

For laser engraving , the laser will contour each letter, which will "bolden" the font. Therefore, when you conceive your vector file, you need to:

  • Give priority to narrow fonts

  • Space the letters

  • Not write your texts too small (2 mm minimum)

For laser cutting , it is key to take the minimum distance between two lines in account in order to obtain a proper laser cut.

As for full letters (A, D, O, B...) remember to create links between the inside and the outside of the letter (see below), so that the center doesn't get detached from the rest of the letter. These links are necessary if you wish to keep the outer part of the cut (we'll call it the stencil). So that your text looks best and harmonized, you can create similar links all over the text, even on letters that don't need them.

These links are really simple to create on your own, but you can also use a font like STENCIL, in which they already exist. You'll find such fonts with a simple internet search.

STENCIL_1.png 


Laser Engraving for Metal

We offer only one type of engraving for metal because of the primer of the laser on scraps.

Line engraving : ideal to engrave a contour. It's the same operation as cutting, with less power. For this type of engraving, use our cutting tips when designing your file. On our website, only one line engraving level is available.

Make sure you incorporate different colors in your vectorial design, according to whether you want a cut or an engraving line.


Files with multiple objects

Files with Multiple Objects ? Yes

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It is possible to cut or engrave several objects designed in the same vector file, by attributing one different color for each action, as indicated on the tutorial how to upload and prepare your 2D file.

However, be careful to respect a minimum dimension of the thickness of the material to keep each part. Remember that scraps are not sent and a primer is needed in order to obtain a clear line cut.

Contrary to cardboard, acrylic and MDF materials, with metal laser cutting, you will receive no "order frame" (on the image above, the order frame would be the black rectangle). In fact, offcuts are used to initiate the laser cut, and are scarred by fused metal projections (the laser beam will always start to cut a closed path outside of the object). For example, in the image above, if the uploaded file only contains the blue and yellow drawings, the customer will only receive the stars, the disks and the rectangles. If the file contains the outer black square, the customer will receive a square with star-shaped, rectangular and circular holes! Be very careful to keep this in mind when creating your design. 


Upload a file

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