"Do not laser" list?

I’ve seen lots of lists of things that can be lasered – either cut or engraved. But is there a list of things that you should never try to laser because it will damage the device?

So far, I’ve found:

  • PVC plastics: releases poisonous and corrosive gasses. (If it doesn’t kill you or give you cancer, it’ll cut the life of your GF.)

  • Hard drive platters: they reflect the CO2 laser and will damage the device. (There’s actually a couple of different drive platters. The very reflective silver ones cut easily with a drill and saw, but reflect the laser. The really old amber platters found in old/large drives use glass and should be fine to engrave.)

Anything else? And if my list is wrong, please correct me!

Things that I don’t know about:

  • Coins: Can I etch/engrave coins? (Can I give George Washington a mustache on the US quarter?) Can I cut through the copper jacket of a penny to the white zinc inside? Or do coins reflect the laser and cause damage?

  • Aluminum cans (or metal cut from aluminum cans): I think the painted cans (coke, sprite) should etch like anodized aluminum.

  • Big steel plate: I’ve got a big, thin steel plate. I usually use it for soldering (so hot melt doesn’t hit the workbench.) If it doesn’t hurt the laser, then I want to use it as a base-plate when cutting without the crumbtray. (But if it could hurt the laser, then it’s a bad idea.)

  • Alternate base-plate idea: hard drive cases from dismantled hard drives. (I think they are aluminum since they are not magnetic.) Again, if it doesn’t reflect the laser, then it should make a good base plate.

Is there any easy test for determining whether a new material will reflect the laser?

Thanks!

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The simplest rule of thumb for metal is that if it has no laserable coating you don’t do it. Painted is okay, anodized is great, or laser specific coatings.

I would flip your thinking to create a “do laser” list.

You can laser engrave non-anodized metals, but you need something like Cermark or moly-lube to coat the surface. The laser then creates a bond between the coating and the metal, instead of engraving the metal directly.

You would need a laser much more powerful than the GF to cut metals; and most metals require a Fiber laser, I believe.

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Hi @jbpa,

I’m not concerned with cutting metal. I understand that issue. I just don’t want to damage the GF if I try engraving on some metals.

http://atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials

https://www.epiloglaser.com/how-it-works/laser-material-compatibility.htm

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Thank you @sailbyc! Perfect!

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Helpful lists. I printed and laminated a copy that I hang by my Forge.

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Just doing a little cross linking here for future searchability…






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