1/2" Aluminum cut

Good day everyone;

I hope someone can help me please.

I’m pretty new to the Glowforge community and have no idea how the manual settings work.

I’ve taken up a project where I have to cut 1/2" Aluminum blocks into a shape. Has anyone ever done something similar?

What would be the manual settings for this?

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance

I don’t believe you will be able to cut any metal of any thickness with a 40W CO2 laser*.
*Well, there are some very thin foils specifically for low-wattage CO2 lasers can be cut. But otherwise…


I’m pretty new to GF, but as Tom said, I don’t think you can cut 1/4 Al with the GF. However, if you have a router, you could use the GF to cut a template of your shape, then double stick tape the template to your Al and use a router with a pattern bit to get the final shape. You will have to watch out for inside corners that are tighter than the radius of the bearing on the bit.


One could also make a mold with their Glowforge and then melt the Al and pour it into that mold.
I’ve been wanting to do that with pewter but I haven’t had time.


I think that a band saw or water-jet cutter might be more interesting. A plasma cutter might do the job but there are some on here that have them to let you know. With Cermark solution you might be able to mark them but even that would not get to a millimeter much less a half inch.

Sandcasting would be tricky to do as it has its own rabbit hole but you could make the models on the Glowforge in maple and then sand cast the design.

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You need a CNC mill - a good one. A laser cutter won’t do it for you.


Definitely. And better than a CNC. Most CNC routers don’t have liquid cooling which is something you’d want for half inch aluminum. And the plasma would be faster too because mills tend to suffer chip load and weld on a CNC cutting aluminum.

But that’s just the cutting. Any engraving has to be done using a diamond head in the plasma cutter instead of the torch. Not all CNC plasma tables will have that.

Good news is the design can be tested on the laser using another material and then moved to the plasma for cutting the aluminum.


Not true. Just need something far more powerful.
This laser cutter won’t do it for you. :slight_smile:

I’d say, like @rbtdanforth suggested, water-jet would be the best thing these days. So much fun to watch! And I’ve read that one can turn every-day, average power washers into cutters (although I’d never actually recommend it!)!


1mm Alu seems to take around 1500-2000W laser power, with air or O2 assist, and cut rates are extremely slow.

is that CO2 or fiber?

The melting point of aluminum is 660.3°C (1,221°F). I’m not sure what you could use for a mold that wouldn’t melt when you poured the aluminum into it. Acrylic melts at 160°C (320°F). Delrin melts at 175°C (347°F).

Wood would probably be the best choice but the autoignition temperature of wood is well under 500°C (depending on species) so it would probably burst into flames pretty much immediately.

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No idea… just data that came from an operators manual for an Amada 2415.

Are there any affordable EDM (Electric Discharge Machining) machines, yet?

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yeah, that’s CO2. you need really high power for CO2 to cut metal. fiber lasers are better suited for metal.

If you have to ask the question, I stand by my answer. A high quality CNC mill is the best solution for the OP.

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It will depend on your shape.

If it is a complex 3D shape you will need a milling machine or a electro discharge machine.

If it is a simple square, rectangular, or triangular shape, you can do it with a standard chop saw with a special blade. This works really well.

If you need a round shape you can do it on a lathe.

Plasma cutters are not very precise, so I wouldn’t use that for anything you need any kind of precision with. A bandsaw is also good for certain shapes but metal cutting blades are a bit wider than other blades and you will lose some precision. You would have to cut over sizes and then use another tool to get down to the shape you want.

Unfortunately, the Glowforge will not work to do this. You would need a much more powerful laser for that much aluminum.


This question is outside our team’s scope. I’ve moved it to the Beyond the Manual so the discussion can continue there.

Welcome to the forum. The first most valuable thing on this forum are the people who assist gladly with questions. The second most valuable thing on the forum are all the answers that are here that have accumulated over the years as we explored this great machine.

Spend some time reading about materials to get a better understanding of what goes into settings.

Spend some time with your Glowforge interface and click through the different settings for the different materials. It will give you an idea of where to start. Then search for previous topics that talk about a specific metal.

Good luck and happy lasering.


Honestly depending on size and frequency of the job I’d look to farm it out.

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I have friend with a metal shop who upgraded recently from a 4kW (?) CO2 to an Amanda fiber laser…wow, just insane. He cut some 1/4 inch steel plates for me on it and that finish is just incredible. If I remember right it can go up to 1" armor plate steel. Those things are freaky pricey though…i think about 2x our house (the laser not the steel plates ;-p)