Laser cutter tips from  http://


WARNING: Because many plastics are dangerous to cut, it is important to know what kind you are planning to use. Make has a How-To for identifying unknown plastics with a simple process.




PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leather

Emits pure chlorine gas when cut!

Don't ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, cause the metal of the machine to corrode, and ruin the motion control system.

Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate/Lexan

Cut very poorly, discolor, catch fire

Polycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation! This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting.


Emits cyanide gas and tends to melt

ABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt).

HDPE/milk bottle plastic

Catches fire and melts

It melts. It gets gooey. Don't use it.

PolyStyrene Foam

Catches fire

It catches fire, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!

PolyPropylene Foam

Catches fire

Like PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.


Emits fumes

It's a mix of two materials that cant' be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)

Coated Carbon Fiber

Emits noxious fumes

A mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated.

Safe Materials

The laser can cut or etch. The materials that the laser can cut materials like wood, paper, cork, and some kinds of plastics. Etching can be done on almost anything, wood, cardboard, aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, marble, stone, tile, and glass.



Max thickness



Many woods


Avoid oily/resinous woods

Be very careful about cutting oily woods, or very resinous woods as they also may catch fire.

Plywood/Composite woods


These contain glue, and may not laser cut as well as solid wood.

MDF/Engineered woods


These are okay to use but may experience a higher amount of charring when cut.

Paper, card stock


Cuts very well on the laser cutter, and also very quickly.

Cardboard, carton


Cuts well but may catch fire.

Watch for fire.



Cuts nicely, but the quality of the cut depends on the thickness and quality of the cork. Engineered cork has a lot of glue in it, and may not cut as well.

Avoid thicker cork.



Cuts extremely well leaving a beautifully polished edge.

Thin Polycarbonate Sheeting (<1mm)


Very thin polycarbonate can be cut, but tends to discolor badly. Extremely thin sheets (0.5mm and less) may cut with yellowed/discolored edges. Polycarbonate absorbs IR strongly, and is a poor material to use in the laser cutter.

Watch for smoking/burning

Delrin (POM)


Delrin comes in a number of shore strengths (hardness) and the harder Delrin tends to work better. Great for gears!

Kapton tape (Polyimide)


Works well, in thin sheets and strips like tape.



Works well if it's thin. Thick mylar has a tendency to warp, bubble, and curl

Gold coated mylar will not work.

Solid Styrene


Smokes a lot when cut, but can be cut.

Keep it thin.

Depron foam


Used a lot for hobby, RC aircraft, architectural models, and toys. 1/4" cuts nicely, with a smooth edge.

Must be constantly monitored.

Gator foam

Foam core gets burned and eaten away compared to the top and bottom hard paper shell.

Not a fantastic thing to cut, but it can be cut if watched.


They all cut well. Our "advanced" laser training class teaches lace-making.

Not plastic coated or impregnated cloth!



Leather is very hard to cut, but can be if it's thinner than a belt (call it 1/8"). Our "Advanced" laser training class covers this.

Real leather only! Not 'pleather' or other imitations!

Magnetic Sheet

Cuts beautifully

NON-CHLORINE-containing rubber

Fine for cutting.

Beware chlorine-containing rubber!

Teflon (PTFE)


Cuts OK in thin sheets

Carbon fiber mats/weave
that has not had epoxy applied

Can be cut, very slowly.

You must not cut carbon fiber that has been coated!!

Coroplast ('corrugated plastic')


Difficult because of the vertical strips. Three passes at 80% power, 7% speed, and it will be slightly connected still at the bottom from the vertical strips.


All the above "cuttable" materials can be etched, in some cases very deeply.

In addition, you can etch:





Green seems to work best...looks sandblasted.

Only FLAT GLASS can be engraved in our cutter. No round or cylindrical items.

Ceramic tile

Anodized aluminum

Vaporizes the anodization away.

Painted/coated metals

Vaporizes the paint away.

Stone, Marble, Granite, Soapstone, Onyx.

Gets a white "textured" look when etched.

100% power, 50% speed or less works well for etching.