Fabric laser welding

Good afternoon all,

This is my first post having recently bought a Glowforge for our new kids digital art club in the UK www.drawit.club

We been having lots of fun with leather, card stock and now wanting to move onto welding fabric.

Ive come across a compound called clearweld as a laser absorber but this is for none organic fabrics. Does anyone else have projects and/or resources they could share on fusing fabrics with the laser?

One of the fabrics I’m particularly keen on experimenting with is lightweight Ramie to create some Minecraft like designs with our Minecraft mad kids :wink:

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I’m afraid you’re probably the first to ask about this material.

The GF (and other lasers) excel at cutting and engraving hard materials like wood and plastics, and you won’t find many examples of fabric-based projects.

I have cut nylon type fabrics and in the cutting the ends are melted and sealed, but you might want to look at exactly what sort of laser they are talking about. These days the word laser is like the word vehicle. It narrows the description somewhat but bicycles and snowmobiles are still very different.

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Yes that’s what I’d read, when nylon is cut, the cut is sealed. So as a next step I wondered if it could be helped to weld onto an other price of fabric. There is a massive industrial machine that acts like a sawing machine but using laser to weld garments together; the future of our garment industry. I’m just wanting to explore a DIY version with the Glowforge

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Keep us posted on your experimental progress!

Welcome to the community. :sunglasses:

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First I’ve heard of this–some new ideas! But since natural (organic) fibers are burnt away by the laser, I can’t imagine you can “weld” them together (like you can get with double sided seam tape and an iron, or bead of fabric adhesive) unless you can find a product like you found that works with inorganic.

And as @rbtdanforth noted, be sure you know what type of system they are talking about–there are many industrial systems that do amazing things, but are very, very different types of lasers as well as using beam splitters and such to acheive their results…

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Theoretically you can weld any thermoplastic based fabric. Nylon, polyester, Dacron, etc. If it melts or burns with thick black smoke you should be able to weld it. The key will be finding the proper settings to melt the two parts together without cutting through. Start with low power high speed and increase the power and/or lower the speed to get what you want. You may also need to de-focus the beam to spread the energy over a larger area. This is usually done by setting the focal height above the actual material height.

I have cut several types of fabric and it worked well, but took some experiments to get the settings just right.

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Please do keep us informed on your project and welcome.

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We’ve definitely had a good number of fabric projects around here, but not sure if I remember any that talked about welding. I’m not 100% sure I even understand what you’re trying to accomplish, but I hope you share if you figure it out!

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@ChristyM See TWI-Laser sewing machine welding fabrics youtube:

https://youtu.be/RvnUX3RAZOA

Spoken to the university that has the machine and its not a CO2 machine so cant use Clearweld product to help concentrate the laser on a seam.

Im going to start with a simple binding tap and sheer linen to see if it will melt and bind; just like ironing would do. I’m a fan of Korean Bojagi art but sewing is not my thing and nor do the kids have the patience for it either, so having to creatively reduce the making process to include less steps to instant gratification ;D

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I am reminded of the line in Thurber Carnival “I want to be a Femme Fatale but I don’t want to get mixed up with men”

I have been a fan of the Seminole patchwork design particularly as they get tiny detail out of broad strokes sewing ribbons into sheets that they then cut into ribbons in other directions. that they sew into sheets that they cut into ribbons etc.

Sitting next to a lady in an art show I was given such a ribbon that I made into a hatband and after would get a fascinating result from others of the tribe that they would light up on seeing it, but then when I did not know the proper response, go blank again in a second. I always felt like there was a huge thing I was missing but never discovered what it was.

Like the Femmes Fatale, I can admire from a distance but do not wish to try mixing up with either.

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Have you done any Joomchi? I haven’t done it yet, but I feel like you may be able to get the effect you’re looking for with paper. You could probably cut the shapes you want from the paper with the laser first. Now I want to try it. :slight_smile:

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@ChristyM that looks beautiful, will have to try it; Korean Artistry is awesome :sunglasses:

My first test with organic lightweight linen was a bust :cry: at power 10 gave a lovely light golden brown burn which looked lovely on the white; anything else just destroyed the fabric

Fabric iron on bonding tap also dint work, you could see it was trying to bond but had not melted enough.

I did notice that the fabric layer under the top one also had been etched with the same lovely light brown colour; wondering if a protective sacrificial layer was added whether more power could be used…

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Be careful with layering. More chance of fire, I believe.

There are some examples of fabric work around here, but I think most natural fibers will burn rather than melt.

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