Acrylic Cutting with a Laser Machine

January 30, 2021 12:38 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Acrylic laser cutting in Utah produces fast, professional results, whether you choose to cut through plastic or use it to engrave on thick pieces of acrylic. When cutting, it can produce a finished, flame-polished edge, and engraving gives a frosted look. It can be used for everything from plastic sneeze guards (a necessity in the COVID-19 era) to signs, board game pieces, playset parts and more. Here’s how to decide whether acrylic laser cutting is right for your next project.

Which type of acrylic should I choose?

There are two broad categories of acrylic sheets: cast or extruded. Cast acrylic sheets are made by pouring liquid plastic into a mold. You can use laser cutting to cut them, but they won’t have that flame-polished edge. However, they’re great for engraving, giving a frosted look much like you’d get with etching glass.

Extruded acrylic sheets are much better for laser cutting—and they’re less expensive, too. They cut smoothly and will have the flame-polished edge. However, if you try engraving with them, the engraved part will look clear. It’s important to choose the material based on the end result you want. If you’re not sure, consult with your plastic fabrication company for expert advice.

What are the limitations?

Every fabrication method comes with certain limitations, and acrylic laser cutting is no different. For example, how thick the material can be depends on your machinery. A 30 to 40 watt machine can cut up to a quarter-inch thick, while a 50 to 60 watt machine cuts sheets up to 3/8 of an inch thick. When you work with a 75 or 120 watt laser cutter, you’ll be able to cut half-inch pieces—or even up to three-quarter inches in two passes.

Laser cutting acrylic requires slow speeds and high power for the best results. It’s not as fast as other cutting methods, but the laser machine melts the edges to form a smooth, polished finish. The extra time it takes to cut saves you time on polishing and finishing your products.

Finally, you’ll need to ensure that the acrylic is elevated—you don’t want it to touch the cutting table, or you may encounter issues with grid marks and backside reflection. Pin tables are a good way to address this problem, although your acrylic manufacturer may have another preferred method.

Engrave with laser machines

When you want to engrave with a laser machine, there are a few tips to keep in mind. For example, you’ll be cutting the backside of the material, so make sure your design is in reverse. If the sheets come with protective backing, only remove the back side—leave the front on so it doesn’t get scratched during the engraving or handling process.

When you’re creating acrylic projects and products, acrylic laser cutting in Utah is a great method. For more information about products and limitations, talk to the team at D&D Plastics. We’ve been in business for four decades and specialize in a full range of plastic product manufacturing services.

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