Can Hypalon be safely cut?
The material is a polyethylene (CSPE) synthetic rubber (CSM). Sometimes with a fiberglass mat layered in the middle for added strength.
I was thinking it would be really cool to use the Glowforge to repair or replace parts of my Klepper foldable kayaks.
Hypalon is a popular material used in the hull of that style of Kayak.
Here is a general
Laser Cutter Materials website that addresses that which can be cut.
Another site is
Pololu which seems to say yes.
There is also a general test you can do to check whether a particular plastic in your possession is laser safe. Google for “laser cutter burn test”.
Any polyethylene should be fine but no to glass filled and don’t take our word, almost all MSDS pages list combustion gasses. I always check before trying something new.
Also, just because it is safe doesn’t mean it will cut successfully. I’ve tried several things that were safe but cut terribly. These tend to be plastics that melt without vaporizing properly.
If you are making replacement parts and the Hypalon doesn’t work you can use something else that is known to cut well. Delrin comes to mind.
Thank you all for the quick replies!
That burn test was helpful! I did look around for an MSDS, but a quick search had not turned anything up which prompted me to post here.
The material demands in this case would be that the material would need to be flexible, durable, sewable, and waterproof.
Klepper foldable kayaks.
Plural? I could only afford one. Sweet boat though.
Have you seen Oru Kayaks? I’m trying to decide whether to try one.
We have three, two of them I bought when they were in need of repair, and the third was inherited. The two that were repaired needed a lot of work. Hense the idea of making replacement parts with a Glowforge!
I have not looked at Oru Kayaks, but I will now!
Hmm, he says ABS has chlorine it it but the chemical formula doesn’t and a random MSDS sheet doesn’t have chlorine or HCL in the combustion products.
So does the test give false positives or was it actually PVC or do some formulations of ABS have chlorine added? I know bromine is added for flame retardancy, or at least it used to be.
So I just tested three colours of ABS plus some random Chinese black plastic that I assume to be ABS. None give a green flame but they all smell acrid when burnt. I think it is hydrogen cyanide that you have to worry about when lasering ABS.
It does not look good, some nasty stuff in there. I wouldn’t try it, but I tend to be on the more paranoid side:
Yep, the magic (or cursed ingredient) is CHLOROSULFONATED POLYETHYLENE (CSM).
I see, so it is looking like it is not a good idea to try to cut it :(. Oh well, I wonder if there are any alternate materials which work and are also cheap enough. My first reflex was leather, but I am pretty reluctant due to cost.
what parts are you trying to repair or replace on the kayaks? Possibly be able to use the Glowforge to make forms to pour molds from some kind of silicone?
The sheet material which is stitched together to make the below sea level hull.
Don’t think I’ve ever seen a silicone-hulled kayak.
Hypalon is the stuff that Zodiac inflatables are made of. Or those river rafting boats. Tough as nuts.