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Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic Bedhead Light

Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic

As we want to use laser machine to mark on plastics, We’re stepping into a difficult field. In many ways, plastics are complex, and with that complexity you get a touch of uncertainty. Such as, many customers and friends who do graphic advertising need to use plastic sheet, and in the process of purchasing and using laser engraving machine to cut & engrave the plastic, and they will encounter some problems, so this article will introduce some helpful content for our working process.

Ⅰ. The one of the most durable materials - plastic

Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be mouldedextruded or pressed into solid objects of various shapes. As the most durable material, If we use the laser engraving and cutting. Most plastics are easy to mark. What is the common types of plastic?Pls kindly see the below. As characteristic of these plastic, pls kindly find the sheet as below:

Common types of plastic 

  • Glass-Filled Acetal Copolymer (PP)
  • Low Density Polyethylene deform(LDPE)
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene(ABS)
  • methyl methacrylate(Acrylic)
  • Nylon (Polyamide)(PA)
  • Polycarbonates(PC)
  • Polyvinyl Chloride(PVC)
  • Polyethylene terephthalate(Mylar)
  • Polyoxymethylene(POM)(Delrin)

Name

Full Name

Density (kg/m³)

Whether or not advised to cut

PP

Glass-Filled Acetal Copolymer

905 kg/m³

advised

LDPE

Low Density Polyethylene deform

910 kg/m³

advised

ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

1024kg/m³

tends to melt

Acrylic

methyl methacrylate

1 051.1 kg/m³

 not ideal

PA

Nylon (Polyamide)

1 140 kg/m³

advised

PC

Polycarbonates

1 200 kg/m³

 not ideal

PVC

Polyvinyl Chloride

1250kg/m³

releases chlorine gas

Mylar

Polyethylene terephthalate

 1 400 kg/m³

advised

Delrin

Polyoxymethylene(POM)

1 425 kg/m³

advised

Kapton tape

 polyimide

1 420 kg/m³

advised

  

What Plastic Is Good For Laser Cutting?

There are many kinds of plastic and plastic combination in the world, What plastic Is good for laser cutting . Under a laser beam, some plastic material is suitable to cut&engrave ,but some plastic material releases chlorine gas, some plastic material is easy to catch fire. The five plastic materials as below that are safe to laser cut

  • Delrin

Delrin, the full name is as sheet above.  It is used in a wide range of applications such as pumps and water valve components, gears, rollers, electrical insulators, bearings, and more. Delrin has low friction, is strong and maintains high rigidity. It is also more ductile than acrylic and wood, which allows for easier and more accurate to cut. On top of that, the laser creates a smooth, sharp-less edge that requires no additional finishing.

  • Mylar

Mylar, its full name as sheet above.  It is mostly used to make stencils, as it is easy to do stencil and it is clean and durable.

Mylar is a versatile plastic material that possesses high strength, durability, and high tensile properties. So it is an excellent material for laser cutting as it allows for a precise to cut cleanly.

  • PC sheeting

PC full name as the sheet above. it refers to a group of thermoplastic polymers that feature carbonates in their structure. There are several trademark names for these plastics, including Lexan, Lupoy, Makrolon, and others. They are durable and lightweight, which makes them ideal for laser cutting.

  • Acrylic

Acrylic, full name as sheet above, another names are lucite, plexiglass or PMMM. It is one of the top materials for laser cutting. It cuts nice and safely, producing a fine polished edge.There are two types of acrylic materials: extruded and cast. Both are ideal for laser processing, but they respond differently to laser cutting. Extruded acrylic cuts smoothly and leaves a clean, flame-polished edge. In addition, it is less expensive than cast acrylic. It is therefore the best acrylic type for laser cutting.

If anything ends up on the beds of hobbyist-grade laser cutters more often than birch plywood, it’s probably sheets of acrylic. There’s something strangely satisfying about watching a laser beam trace over a sheet of the crystal-clear stuff, vaporizing a hairs-breadth line while it goes, and (hopefully) leaving a flame-polished cut in its wake.

  • Kapton tape

Kapton (also known as polyimide) is a type of high-performance plastic polymer. The material is characterized by properties such as high electrical resistance, high thermal conductivity, and excellent tensile properties. This makes it ideal for laser cutting.Kapton tape can be laser cut to make solder masks or stencils. It can also be used in laser marking. The material is usually cut using CO2 lasers as polyimides have excellent CO2 laser energy absorption capacity. However, UV lasers can also be used.

What plastics cannot be laser cut?

Even if you have a powerful laser cutter, there are some plastics that you shouldn’t use for your laser cutting projects. These three kinds we didn’t advise that we engrave and cut them;Let’s have a look at each of these and why you shouldn’t laser cut them.

  • PVC

 Despite PVC has a wide range of applications, but it is not safe for laser cutting. Under a laser beam, the material releases chlorine gas (and can possibly release hydrochloric acid). Apart from damaging the laser cutter, these by-products can also result in serious physical injury.

  • Coated carbon fiber

Carbon fiber is a plastic material that is not ideal for laser cutting due to its high absorption of laser energy. It also possesses a very high energy diffusivity. As a result, it can easily catch fire, which can spread to large parts of the material during the cutting process. the material produces toxic fumes. The fumes can be especially dangerous in closed spaces

  • ABS plastic

ABS is another material not ideal for laser cutting as it tends to melt, leaving behind a gooey mess. Furthermore, it produces hydrogen cyanide, which is toxic even in small amounts.

Ⅱ. How to laser engrave/cut plastic?

Knowing about more of plastic material. Some friends and customers should want to know how to engrave/cut plastic. Our AD KOL Naomi use Monport 80W laser machine to cut the Delrin-one of the plastic, and finish the gear art, the video is long, it needs 19 minutes 36 seconds, pls adjust into 8:28 (8 minutes 28 seconds)

Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic

The detailed video which Monport 80W laser machine is engraving Delrin as above. The 80W laser machine machine settings as below:

Machine Settings

Monport 80W CO2 Laser Engraver & Cutter

Cutting Power: 40~60%

Cutting Speed: 10 mm/s

Our Suggestion For Cutting&Engraving The Plastic

  • When cutting acrylic. This ensures that the laser beam melts the edges and creates a smooth edge. The process is perfectly safe, but you should wear protective gear to protect against any fumes.
  • while cutting PC sheet, It is hard (even harder than acrylic), making it trickier to cut complex designs. It also absorbs high levels of infrared energy and can easily catch fire (If it is too thick).  Pls don’t keep away from the laser machine.
  • Whencutting Delrin material, it tends to warp, especially if stored improperly. It also produces fumes, though not toxic, are very pungent. and it can catch fire, especially under a powerful laser beam. therefore It is advisable to use low cutting speed and low power when using laser to cut.
  • Whether you choose which plastic material. It’salways recommended to invest in a fume extractor not only for the health benefits but also to protect your laser from contamination and corrosion
  • Most of laserable plastics can be engraved at high speed with power adjusted accordingly for the wattage of your laser. When experimenting, set your speed to a fast setting and then adjust the power output until you get a nice engraving without any melting.
  • With some plastics it is best to engrave using two passes. The first pass cuts through the cap layer and the second pass cleans away the residue that some plastics leave behind.
  • Another technique that can be useful is to mask the plastic before engraving with transfer or masking tape. This will prevent a buildup of residue on the plastic surface.
  • Try misting the transfer tape with water to reduce heat buildup and melting on sensitive
  • If you do not get acceptable initial results with the recommended speed and power settings, start experimenting by first changing only the power setting. If adjusting the power setting does not work, start over and adjust only the speed setting. Once you have acceptable results, record those settings for that particular plastic so that you do not have to repeat the experimentation process

Ⅲ.Applications

Plastics material are highly versatile and used for many different applications. Used together, laser machines cutting & engraving plastic which can significantly broaden your product line and processing capabilities. Some of the more common applications for laser cutting plastic engraving and non-contact laser marking include:

  • Automotive parts
  • Keyboards
  • Tools and handles of tools
  • Buttons and switches with day & night design
  • Identification tags for name
Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic Nameplate
  • Packaging
  • Housings made of plastic
Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic
  • Laser Engraved Plastic Zip Ties
  • Electric plugs
  • Electronic components
Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic Electronic Parts
  • Laser Marking On Electronic Parts
  • Printed circuit boards (PCB)
Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic PCB

PCB Prototyping by Laser Cutter, when we cut the PCB Prototyping, from start to final, there 5 steps for sign the process.

Laser Cutting & Engraving Plastic Monport Nameplate

Final thoughts

Hope this article can guide you through the process of laser engraving, cutting plastic. Using the Monport laser system, plastic engraving/cutting becomes more efficient, cheap and environmentally friendly.If you want to try laser engraving on plastic, add the Monport machine to your shopping list!

 

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