Has anyone cut wood that has a sublimated design applied to it? I want to make sure I use products that won’t damage the Glowforge but can find very little information about this.
Welcome to the forum.
People have used this sort of thing before, preprinted plywoods and MDF are a pretty well known type of product out there.
The only way to be 100% sure is to ask the manufacturer for an MSDS.
You can search the forum for some additional insight:
Should get you going in the right direction.
As for “safe”, there are a few types of safe to think about, but the two big ones are: safe for your laser vs safe for you.
Safe for you – In general, don’t breathe any fumes from anything you laser. It’s almost universally bad, that’s why we have good fans and ventilation/filter setups. Nothing good can come of breathing the fumes or dust in.
Safe for the laser – There are two major risks to the laser from materials: fire and corrosion. Printed woods should be about as flammable as regular woods, so just use caution and treat it like most other wood/mdf. Corrosion is nastier, PVC is the big offender here. You laser PVC, it creates chlorine compounds that ultimately lead to deposits of hydrochloric acid on the inside of your machine, which can outright kill the glowforge even after one cut.
So. Don’t do PVC (often referred to as “vinyl”, but not all vinyls are PVC).
There may be other materials that could damage your machine, that’s where learning about MSDS and how to read them is a good thing.
Anyway, My gut says you’ll be fine with sublimated woods, but if you’re worried don’t trust me (a rando on the internet), trust the MSDS.
I have cut things I have sublimated and other people do it all the time. Can I vouch for the safety? No. But I feel OK about it. Your concern should be more about the base than the sublimation, though.
Knowing that is helpful. I just don’t want to damage anything on my Glowforge.
Thank you! I will check it out.
Do you have a place where you purchase sublimated wood?
Do you mean wood that has been sublimated or wood that is prepared for sublimation? I do my own sublimation, so I don’t have sources for the former,. But you can get sublimation supplies from places like JPPlus, Conde, Coastal, and JDS (this one requires a business registration). I haven’t done a ton of actual wood (more MDF), but JDS is my go-to. I typically shop around for the best price, though, because that varies based on the product. Oh, and most of the big outfits will label if something is laserable.
I was going to sublimate it myself, so I wanted to make sure I was getting products that were safe for the Glowforge. That way I can sublimate the entire piece of wood/MDF instead of a bunch of little parts.
Ok, in that case, all of those vendors will work. The MDF is generally Unisub brand. Some people also have success with white dry erase board from Lowes. I don’t think it’s as vibrant, but it’s cheaper. There’s also a technique where people press lamination sheets (which are typically polyester) onto wood and sublimate that. I don’t love that approach, but it works. And then some folks paint wood with a layer of polycrylic and sub that. There’s a FB group for sublimation with GF that may help you out. Ignore most of the GF specific advice because some folks have no idea what they are talking about, but the sub advice is pretty good.
I was thinking I wanted to do the lamination and sublimate process. Is there a reason that you do not love that approach?
Have you tried the polycrylic? I’m guessing that takes longer since you have to wait for it to dry out completely.
I prefer the look of natural wood over the look of a lamination sheet in the wood. I have some of the PolyNatural coating, but haven’t tried it yet.