Cutting Neoprene?

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#1

As the title states I’m curious about custom cutting neoprene. I have random shapes designed that need to be made from neoprene that I need cut but can’t seem to discover the best method for making them. Do you think the Glowforge would be a viable option for this medium or would a different option be best?


#2

I just tried my usual google search of “neoprene CO2 laser”.
It looks as if at least some neoprene contains chlorinated hydrocarbons and should be avoided lest you release the dreaded HCL. Others state they have used it with “no problems”.
Here is one such contradictory post: http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?209178-neoprene

If you are buying materials from a reputable source they should be able to provide an MSDS. Look for anything that says chloroblahblahblah. If it is in there then look for a different source or start asking them questions. Stay safe!


#3

It is possible to test a material for chlorine by heating up a piece of solid copper wire (without insulation) with a torch and sticking it into the material you want to test so you get a bit of the material melted onto the copper wire. Then you put it back into the torch flame and if there is a green flame (in the first second or so) then that is an indicator of chlorine.

Disclaimer: A friend told me about this method. I haven’t tried it myself and I don’t know if it’s solid science.


#4

@brianfroelund, yes it’s a good test. There are some other post here that discuss it. I’ve done it and it works.
http://community.glowforge.com/t/how-to-determine-if-plastic-x-is-safe-to-use/648


#5

Good to hear, and thanks for sharing the related thread. It would be great to have some database of materials and source for materials per country as a way of sharing experiences with different materials.


#6

Anyone know if it has to be copper wire? Would it not work also with a piece of steel wire / a nail?

Or does the chlorine react with the copper only, to produce the green flame?


#7

Correct. The copper is what makes the flame green when the chlorine effects it.


#8

Yes, it needs to be copper. Its the reaction with the copper oxide that produces the green flames. It is apparently called a Beilstein Test.

Edit: @jkopel You beat me by 2 seconds.


#9

I have wondered the same thing. Copper by itself will give a greenish color heated enough. I’m going to have to experiment with it…:mask:


#10

Everyone who is going to play with this test should read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beilstein_test
Particularly the third paragraph.

And this http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.199204431/abstract

Edit: Screw Wiley and their paywall. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/239078421_The_Beilstein_Test_An_Unintentional_Dioxin_Source_in_Analytical_and_Research_Laboratories


#11

Thank you for that information Sir. Good of you to ensure no one endangered themselves!
So the answer is yes, oxidized copper is required for the chemical reaction, and the by-products of the combustion are highly toxic.
working with metals, pickling baths and mineral dusts in jewelry for many years has given me a deep respect for fumes, and any generation of them occurs under the exhaust hood of my welding table.


#12

Agreed, I learned lots about welding fumes when I tried welding galvanized metal with what I thought was sufficient active ventilation. Felt pretty woozy for a while.


#13

The “zinc shakes”, a form of metal poisoning. Guess how I know that!
I never got it that bad, but bad enough that everything tasted like metal for most of the day.
I can’t tolerate those cough drops with zinc, that metallic taste is terrible. I think I’m sensitized to it.


#14

The faithful forums always has an old answer to my new questions. I’ve been doing a bit of costuming and neoprene is a pain to cut by hand if you’re doing intricate details.
If I had my GF, I might be able to laser it. Probably safer with make some kind of die cutter with it instead though. Thanks forums!