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Cardboard

Information, tricks, know-how, and advice to help you laser cut your model in our Cardboard material.​

Colors

Thicknesses

  • (mm)
  • 0,7
  • 1
  • 2
  • 2,8
  • 6,7

Characteristics

Surface Look
Details
Strength
Flexibility

Cardboard Material Guide

Description

Cardboard is a light and rigid material. It has the same origin as regular paper. It is conceived by laminating flat, embossed or corrugated paper sheets of different thicknesses. Cardboard is a general term that actually refers to several types of materials: corrugated cardboard (the most common one), grey cardboard, wood cardboard, and cellulose-based cardboard. Because it allows adjusting the amounts of cellulose pulp and fibers, cardboard offers a wide range of possibilities. 

Cardboard has a great advantage, compared to other materials, of being inexpensive. Easy to work with, it can be cut, folded and allows different types of assembly (glue, staples, etc.). Thanks to laser cutting or engraving, numerous uses of it have become available (see the uses for more information).

Made from wood fiber, cardboard is also especially ecological. It’s easy and economical to produce, and light to convey. It is recycled, recyclable and biodegradable.

However, cardboard has a low resistance to humidity and fire, unless it receives a specific treatment. 

Please take a note that laser cuts the material under a slight angle which may be visible on thicker parts. 

Applications

Cardboard is easy to use and to get familiar with. It is possible to go from neophyte to expert rather quickly. Very malleable, cardboard allows us to efficiently get a result that is both economical and aesthetically pleasing.

There is a common belief that cardboard is made for packaging only. In reality, it can be used for a multitude of other purposes, such as furniture, structures, etc. Thanks to laser cutting, we uncover new possible uses of the material: digital printing, packaging prototypes manufacture, modelization (shapes, drawings), scrapbooking, etc. Cardboard allows direct printing, which some other materials don’t. This enables silkscreen printing, offset printing, flexography, heliogravure, lamination, etc.

Easy to repair and to store, the cardboard will serve your creative and prototyping projects. It is adaptable to various constraints and can multiply its possibilities thanks to processes like film-coating (protection, waterproofing, food contact readiness, etc.), varnishing or laminating (brilliance), gilding (luxury packaging).

Pricing​

Your laser cutting and engraving price is calculated automatically when you upload your vector file onto our website. It varies depending on factors like the amount of material used, the machine time needed and logistic costs. Once you’ve uploaded the file, you can make some edits on it, and see the price evolve accordingly, directly on the platform. In order to receive your model in a few clicks, you only need to login and upload your vector file .

Laser cutting and engraving time is around 2 working days for cardboard. An added 24 to 48 hours may be needed depending on the vector file’s size. The definitive manufacturing time is indicated on our website when you complete your order.

Delivery time is added to cutting or engraving time and depends on the delivery option you’ve chosen. 

Process

Laser Cutting:

Laser cutting consists of cutting matter using a powerful and precise laser, concentrated on a reduced area. The laser can cut up to 15 mm in thickness. There are several power sources for lasers. They can be continuous or pulsated. The kerf left by the laser when cutting cardboard is small. The cut pieces aren’t much deformed because the heat affected zone is very small on cardboard (around 0,5 mm).

At Sculpteo, we use 100W CO 2 source laser cutting machines because they allow cutting all types of material at high speeds.

Laser engraving:

Laser engraving is a subtractive manufacturing method, based on the use of a laser beam that alters an object’s surface. This process allows creating images visible to the naked eye on the object. The laser emits a heat high enough to pulverize matter, creating the cavities that will make up the final image. It’s a quick method since the matter is removed with each pulse of the laser. 

When you import your vector file, we establish, under your control, which zones are to be engraved and which are to be cut. For more information, check out our information about transferring a vector file.

Finishings

The adequate paint for cardboard is acrylic paint. You have several possibilities if you wish to paint a surface: one with 100% paint, one with paint + paper, the third with 100% paper. Cardboard can absorb the paint: make sure not to dilute it too much.

As for gluing cardboard, using a glue-gun is a good idea. However, you need to be fast, because the glue dries in less than 10 seconds. The structure thus assembled will be very resistant.

Laser cuts and engraves material by burning its surface. Therefore, the sides of the piece tend to be darkened, and are marked slightly on the edges. When burning the surface, the laser also leaves a kerf of a width that can vary, depending on the type of material and the thickness chosen. 

When designing your project, you need to take this kerf into account and plan for a surplus of material accordingly.

The following chart lists the kerf sizes for cardboard as a function of thickness.

Thickness of Cardboard (mm)0.7122.86.7
Width of the kerf: Corrugated (mm)0.0750.0750.0750.0750.075
Width of the kerf: Grey (mm)0.0750.0750.0750.0750.075
Width of the kerf: Cellulose (mm)0.0750.0750.0750.0750.075

About the laser’s precision and its effect on the material, you also need to keep in mind that your object might get some burning stains on their inner side.

Minimum dimension (mm)15 x 15
Maximum dimension: Cellulose & Grey (mm)780 x 580
Maximum dimension: Corrugated (mm)940 x 565
Thickness of Cardboard (mm)0.7122.86.7
Minimum distance between two paths (mm)11237

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 (2mm minimum)

For laser cutting, it is key to take the kerf into account when designing your text. The texts must be treated like shapes: they must be vectorized and respect the same rules as every other shape.

LASER CUTTING TEXT

We offer two types of laser engraving:

  • 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.
  • Surface engraving (also known as infill engraving): For this type of engraving, the outline of your design must absolutely be closed. We offer two levels of surface engraving depth: superficial or deep. With the superficial level, the cut can barely be felt by touch, whereas it is noticeable at a deep level.

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

laser engraving cardboard

Is it possible to assemble your parts?Yes
Minimum space required for assemblyDepends on the kerf

laser cutting restrictions

If you wish to make Cardboard pieces fit into each other and make sure they’ll stay connected, we recommend that you add in nodes. Nodes are small bumps situated in a piece’s slots or tabs, that allow compensating the thickness variations of the material and the kerf. Nodes get compressed when the pieces are assembled and they concentrate the friction on specific points rather than on the slot’s whole surface. This way, the slots can be larger without coming apart, allowing the pieces to stay together.

nodes

On top of the nodes, it is important to adequately treat the end of the slots. Sharp angles are a weak point for cardboard, and will always fracture at the corner, where efforts get concentrated. A solution to this issue is to add a hole at the corner of each sharp angle. This technique allows for distributing the stress across the whole surface of the hole instead of just one precise point.

Files with Multiple Objects ?No


Ready to laser cut with Cardboard?

With Sculpteo’s online laser cutting service you’re just a few clicks away from professional Cardboard laser cutting. Your model is cut with the highest quality and delivered straight to your door. 

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