Answered By: Kerry Harmer
Last Updated: Aug 13, 2021     Views: 2

Materials guide for the laser cutter


Please sign the Waiver of Liability prior to using the Maker Studio.

Refer to the Maker Studio Guidelines for important points about materials to remember prior to sourcing materials for use in the Maker Studio.

Here is a list of stores in Calgary that carry laserable materials: Material Sourcing

Plywood:

Always first determine if your material selection is safe for a laser cutter. Plywood is safe for laser cutting.

Plywood Selection:

Baltic Birch Plywood

Material Thickness: 3mm

Upon Purchase: Request that the material be cut to be 40 inches by 24 inches size sheets.

Birch Plywood

Material Thickness: 3mm

Upon Purchase: Request that the material be cut to be 40 inches by 24 inches size sheets.

TIP: The wood shop attendants may suggest the full sheet being cut into quarters, but this size will not fit into the laser cutter. Ask the store attendants to cut your sheets down into 40 X 24 inch sizes, or any other size underneath this maximum size allowance.

Fabric Materials:

Always first determine if your material selection is safe for a laser cutter.

Choose a 100% cotton fabric. The material must be 100% cotton as any other fabric material is not accepted for use at the MRU Maker Space.

You will have to iron the fabric flat.

Cut it into 40 inches by 24 inches maximum sheet sizes, unless you have arranged otherwise with the Maker Studio Specialist.

Leather Materials:

Always first determine if your material selection is safe for a laser cutter. Real leather, made from any type of animal skin, and cured using leather curing methods, is safe for laser cutting.

Any faux leather is unsafe for laser cutting so avoid the faux leather material.

TIP:Try to avoid leather thicker than 2mm if you would like to cut it as it does not cut well above these thicknesses.

Leather stores also carry leather working tools, buckles, hardware for leather working like eyelets, and other equipment if your project requires them.

If you are in doubt about the material makeup of a product, ask the store attendants for an MSDS sheet on the leather, or for additional information about the leather to determine it is indeed 100% real leather.

Trotec Materials:

Always first determine if your material selection is safe for a laser cutter. You can purchase Laserable materials from Trotec Laser Canada in Calgary.

 

Please follow these steps to make an account for purchasing with Trotec:

 

  1. Create an account by visiting this website: Trotec Customers-Create Account
  2. Choose material and thickness of material. Sheets come in various sizes.
  3. Purchase your material, and retain your order number. Give this to the warehouse warehouse attendant, when you go to pick up from the Calgary Trotec Location. This is the address and the entrance to the warehouse is in the back of the building: #2, 820 28 St NE Calgary, AB T2A 6K1

TIP: If working in Illustrator, set your designs to be 12 inches by 24 inches ( one standard ¼ size sheet of any material from Trotec). If your work does not all fit on this 12 X 24 inch artboard, you will need two sheets or more.

Suggested Trotec material by description:

If you require colored materials, like acrylic plastics or lamacoids, look at these materials:

TroGlass Colored Acrylic

TroGlass Clear Acrylic

TroLase Two-Tone, Colored Lamacoid

TroLase ADA Signage

If you require flat, laserable wood, like cherry, maple or birch, look at these materials:

LaserPaper Wood

Solid Wood

Veneer Wood

Plywood

Ecocraft Wood

LaserCork

If you require metallic, mirrored, or shiny colored materials, these can be mocked with lamacoid plastics. Look at these materials:

TroGlass Mirror

TroLase Metallic

Trolase Thins

Anodized Aluminum

If you require flat cardboard for prototyping your cuts before purchasing a material, you can use any standard corrugated cardboard, press board, or construction paper.

Tips & Tricks: Laser cutting Materials

Metal:

Low wattage C02 lasers (like the SP 400 80watt C02 laser in the Maker Space) cannot cut metal or engrave into metal.

You can engrave on anodized aluminum and cut this to shape with metal shears or a jump shear if available.

To laser engrave a black mark on a metal material use Cermark™. Adhere to the safety protocol for working with a silica aerosol spray when applying Cermark™ on to metal for laser marking.

Here is a link to Cermark™:

Wood:

Do not use MDF. They contain glue in the form of a binding agent, and when vaporized, it builds up and clogs the filtration system needlessly. Use plywood, or other solid woods instead.

Do not use any recycled or repurposed wood in a laser cutter. They may be treated with chemicals like fire retardants.

A maximum thickness of 1/4 inch can be processed by the laser cutter at the MRU Maker Studio.

Account for material thickness in 2D & 3D designs:

Material thickness must be accounted for within your design. Not sure what this means? Take a look at this website, and notice the option for the material thickness. Can you change the material thickness to be 1 inch? How about 3 mm? Look at how the rendering of the generated design around the edges of the box change!

Test this concept out here:

Makercase Website

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