Laser Settings

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Fab Lab
3D Printing 2D Cutting Misc
WARNING:  Do not look into laser with remaining eye. Pages to do with the Laser Cutter:

Cutting Tips

Power settings and tips from other hackerspaces


Engraving Tips

Engraving Vector images

If you have a vector image you want to engrave and you get an error about polylines check the following:

  • Make sure you don't have any overlapping lines
  • Make sure you Unite lines (Tools->Unite lines)

If Unite lines does automagically fix the problem then run the data check: Tools->Data Check. Once for overlapping and once for "Check closed" Areas that are red are causing the problem. Fix those and it should engrave.

Complicated engraving jobs can cause the engraver to not know what parts should be cut out and what parts should be left. This is usually rectified by dividing up your vector by layers with the same engraving setting.

Do Not Cut

  • Lexan
  • Anything with PVC
  • Vinyl Stickers
  • Don't even try to cut metal, it will not work.
  • PETG

The laser was not properly focused previously, so new values must be found for all materials These settings will work properly if, and only if, you have refocused for the current piece of material. It is very important that you refocus for every new piece of material.

Laptops

MacBook Aluminum Case

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Notes
100 60 40 Doesn't actually cut. This works for etching if you're doing a vector design

Engrave

Speed Power Scan gap Other flags Results
500 30 This works well for etching a well defined binary design (QR Code).
500 60 This works well for etching a bitmap design that has been dithered.

Hardwood

3/8" Poplar

Laser38Poplar.png

Image Key Speed Power Corner Power
1 10 100 95
2 10 95 90
3 10 90 85
4 8 100 95
5 8 95 90
6 8 90 85
7 6 100 95
8 6 95 90
9 6 90 85
- 5 100 95

1/4" Cedar, Walnut, Maple

Speed Power Corner Power
10 95 90

1/4" Zebra Wood

Speed Power Corner Power
7 95 90

Plywood

1/4" Birch

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
25 90 85 cuts through well, but close. Lower speed 5 if you want a 100% successful cut.
300 20 15 very nice engrave, no burn marks
10 35 30 clean cut, very little burn
15 100 85 lowes cheap plywood. Mostly cut trough, some spots required a second pass.

5mm MR birch

5mm-birch-mr-front.jpg

Cheap home depot 5mm birch underlayment plywood with moisture resistant(i.e. white non-reflective) glue.

100% power, 85% corner power, speed as marked in image. There was NO marking on the back for the cuts that did not make it through. Cutting a box with tabs required 8% speed to reliably cut through.

1/4" Oak

Oak-front.jpg Oak-back.jpg

Image Key Speed Power Corner Power
1 25 100 95
2 25 95 90
3 25 90 85
4 20 100 95
5 20 95 90
6 20 90 85
7 15 100 95
8 15 95 90
9 15 90 85
10 10 100 95

Masonite

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Other flags Results
70 25 22 Nice cut about halfway through
15 50 45 Cuts all the way through but just barely
15 60 55 Cuts all the way through but a bit smokey on the outside edges

Paper

110 lb Card Stock

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Other flags Results
100 25 20 Cut Through, burned the corners a bit
150 25 20 Barely cut through, nice clean edges. Corners still burnt
175 25 10 Think perforated tear lines, corners STILL scorched.
145 25 14 -
135 35 25 Cuts two sheets at the same time.

Engrave

Speed Power Scan gap Other flags Results

Yogi Bear Printer Paper

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Other flags Results
200 20 12 Cut Through, burned the corners a bit
200 15 10 Barely cut through, perforated edges on the long cuts, corner power was perfect

Engrave

Speed Power Scan gap Other flags Results

Yupo (synthetic paper - polypropylene)

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Results
200 96 30 Cuts well.

Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard (Rendezvous boxes)

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Other flags Results
75 10 8 Nothing
75 15 12 Nice engraved line, corners very slightly darker
75 20 16 Top layer cut only, corners slightly more. Tiny pinhole at one corner through the back layer
75 25 22 Top layer cut, bottom layer corners only
70 25 22 Top layer cut, bottom layer not cut
30 35 30 Worked well, cut all the way through.

Engrave

Speed Power Scan gap Other flags Results
300 31 0.03 Bidir/Blow Top layer gone, bottom layer blackened
600 31 " " Burns through top layer; 50% halftone only darkens
1000 31 " " Top layer becomes like netting. 50% halftone is not much darker than 0% areas.

Probably a lower power is needed. Burning through the top layer isn't good - any unburned portions are not held on by much. Corrugated cardboard probably is not the best material for rastering.

Cereal Boxes

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Type of cereal Result
100 40 40 Kellogg's Cinnabon Sharp cut, no charring.

Engrave

Speed Power Scan gap Other flags Type of cereal Results
500 31 0.03 Bidir/Blow Kellogg's Cinnabon Great for small details (e.g. text), but burns through for large regions.
500 25 " " Kellogg's Cinnabon Maybe cuts too thin; contrast with 50% halftone areas is not good.
500 20 " " Kellogg's Cinnabon Darkens well but still leaves plenty of material. Good contrast with 50% halftone.

Engraved cereal-box cardboard benefits from being blown off after cutting.

Pro tip: Engrave first, then cut. Wobbly cardboard doesn't raster well.

Acrylic

Printer Transparency

Cut

Speed Power Corner Power Other flags Results
200 15 10 Perforated edges, small details are melty
150 25 20 Barely cut through, nice clean edges. Corners still burnt

Engrave

Speed Power Scan gap Other flags Results

.08"

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
25 100 80 Cuts Through, but doesn't cut bottom protective film (horray)
100 100 30 Engraves 3/4 of the way through, leaves 'shadows' on the plastic. Leave the film on both sides to avoid.

1/10"

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
25 70 65 Cuts Through
300 25 Engraves about 1/16 of an inch, leaves 'shadows' on the plastic.

0.340"

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
3 100 95 Cuts Through
5 100 95 Deep gash, does not cut through.

3mm

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
19 80 75 (Almost) Cuts Through
10 99 95 Definitely Cuts Through
35 65 35 Makes a good etch/engrave - doesn't cut through

6mm

This was sold as 1/4", is actually 0.240 inches and almost dead on 6 mm.

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
5 100 95 (Almost) Cuts Through

1/2"

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
4 90 90 (Almost) Cuts Through
4 95 92 Definitely Cuts Through

Black acrylic heats up and there is a slight melting/warp at the exit edge. Not sure how to prevent this.

To prevent warping AND guarantee a clean cut on clear 1/2" acrylic, I set it to 10 speed, 99 power, 98 corner power, and did 6 passes (you can set number of times cut by scrolling the layer view to the right). Cuts were clean through and there was no warping of the material. This is especially effective on large designs as there is cooling time in between passes.

Polypropylene

0.062" Polypropylene sheet

Speed Power Corner Power Other flags Results
12 100 85 Does not cut all the way through. Damn close, but not all the way there.
11 100 85 Barely cuts through most of the time, edges a little rough and melty
10 100 85 Cuts all the way edges better but still a little melty
9 100 85 Cuts all the way through pretty cleanly (DB)

Polyamide (Kapton)

0.002" Kapton sheet - PCB Stencil

After doing a bunch of experimentation making PCB stencils, I found some interesting results:

  • You can export directly from Eagle and import into the EasyCut software using the HPGL output setting in Eagle CAM with a .PLT extension.
  • In Eagle, 0mil / 25% / 20mil shink settings for the Cream under DRC Mask shrinks things nicely.
  • Borders do better on cut.
  • You can cut larger parts.
  • Most SMD pads need to be done on engrave. If you try to do them on cut, you'll mess up / melt the edges by the time you get a decent cut.
  • Finer pitch parts need more power. Failure to use more power will result in failure to completely carve out the part
  • Finer pitch parts benefit from slightly more speed to avoid melting stuff up. Tricky balance.
  • The settings noted in this table worked fairly well. TQFP-100 parts are still VERY hard to do without having the cuts "bleed" together
Speed Cut Power Corner Power Engrave power Engrave step Results
200 100 55 Cuts all the way through, decent corners. Good for outline
90 60 2mil Good for vertical TQFP100
90 54 2mil Good for horizontal TQFP100
90 44 2mil Good for misc 0402ish SMT
90 38 2mil Good for larger SMT, figure 0603 and larger

Linoleum Blocks

Make very, very certain that you have real Linoleum and not some knockoff made from PVC or the like.

Speedball Linoleum Block (3mm thick Linoleum)

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
500 60 0.56 mm of cut
500 80 0.84 mm of cut
300 80 1.18 mm of cut
200 80 1.64 mm of cut
150 100 2.35 mm to 3 mm of cut

Leather

Moistening the leather with a sponge prior to cutting will lessen scorch marks. Running a through-cut as a separate job (so the leather can be re-moistened) is also suggested.

2-3 oz

Settings for a cut through with minimal charring are 50 Speed / 75 Power / 0 Corner Power 23ozleather.jpg

(Note: All engraving was done at 500 speed.)

5-6 oz

56ozleather.jpg

(Note: All engraving was done at 500 speed.)


Fabric

Cotton blend with thick interfacing

Speed Power Corner Power Engrave Power Result
80 30 25 Clean cut


Tabbed Boxes

When using the tabbed box maker inkscape extension, how tight the pieces will fit together depends on how much allowance for material removed by the laser is given.

plywood

material kerf clearance comment
Home depot 5mm MR
underlayment plywood
0.005 In 0.003 In Snug, but not super tight fit. Sides hold together, but break apart if dropped.
.02 In 0.0 In Super tight fit, hard to put together, requires a screwdriver to pry apart