Acrylic, which is sometimes referred to as Lucite, Lexan, or Plexiglas, is a great medium to use with a laser cutter. It’s easy to work with, and it comes in a variety of opacities, finishes, and colors. With that said, using a laser cutter or engraver on acrylic is much different than using one with wood. In this guide, users can find some important facts and valuable tips on cutting acrylic with a laser cutter.
Flashback is Typically Avoidable
Flashback describes what happens when the laser’s beam cuts through the acrylic but reflects onto the back of the work surface, producing a hazy appearance or even causing a fire. The easiest way to prevent this is to keep the acrylic off of the laser bed. When cutting translucent materials, it may help to leave the plastic or paper protective film on the back side of the work surface; just watch for flare-ups, as these backings are usually flammable.
Acrylic Cutting Edges Should Be Flame Polished
One of the best things about powerful laser cutters from BossLaser is that they provide clean, neat edges. However, users can get even better results if they slow the beam down enough to allow heat to build up in the kerf, which melts the cut surface. For lower-powered machines, users can get similar results by slowing the cutting speed below the recommended settings.
Watch Things Closely
One of the most important tips is to never leave the machine unattended when cutting acrylic. The material is very combustible, and users should watch it carefully during the cutting process. It may help to keep compressed air nearby to put flames out before they get out of hand. In the case of a closed system, be sure to have an extinguisher on hand.
Use Cast Acrylic for the Best Results
Here’s a bonus tip: Cast acrylic provides optimal results. There are two kinds of acrylic: the extruded variety typically found at home improvement stores, and higher-quality cast pieces. Laser cutters and engravers usually use cast acrylic because it simply provides better-looking results. While cast acrylic is costlier, the results make it worthwhile.