Favourite materials

Let’s have a discussion on favourite laser cutting materials. Post your favourite material or material combinations or even better your favourite material from a specific vendor. Photos of things you have made from them or links to material sites welcome.

I am looking to try out many new materials but I personally love a good acrylic fancier the colours/properties the better. But there is all something about a good ply blend or nice finished hardwood/exotic. Can’t wait to get a shipping date will stick up on so much sheet material, my future wife is going to love me!

@dan what’s your favourite materials to work with? Surely leather is now up there with your sweet bag you made(love the Trakr btw)[free Trakr with every GF preorder, out of the question? :wink: I know everyone is going to want to make your bag]


I love working in leather, though the smell is pretty nasty and it lingers for quite some time. I found washing the leather after cutting helps make the parts less stinky, and by the time you stain/seal them the smell is gone. Though the shop smelled for a bit.

Acrylic is probably my current favorite, as I’ve been doing a lot of it for an animatronic project I’m working on. And I love that you can chemically weld acrylic together to create really strong assemblies.

My third favorite is wood, as there are just so many possibilities with it.

I love 1/8" hardwoods. Fast, smells nice, looks gorgeous even if you do zero finishing. Slap some sandpaper and spray finish on it and it looks like something you’d pay a fortune for.

But I used to do woodworking, so maybe I’m biased. Printing something in 15 min that used to take me months is like living in Harry Potterland.



I second Dan’s comment on hardwoods smelling nice when freshly laser cut. Like a nice campfire or fireplace. When we cut wood projects at our makerspace it’s pretty common for everyone to take turns sniffing them.

Yeah I think hardwoods quite possibly is a winner I can’t wait to fill the house with freshly cut hardwood, going to smell great.

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Get some hardwood planks, run them through a planer and straight into the laser cutter. Nothing better. If plastics are your thing Inventables has a lot of really cool acrylics. Pricey but some of the properties are really cool…like this two tone stuff that is amazing for engraving.

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The list of benefits of Glowforge ownership just keeps growing…


@fablab_elpaso The airplane invitation in our video was made with Inventables white-on-red acrylic, in fact.


Yeah I love that stuff, looks great in the video

I make signage, among other things. One of the coolest materials I get to play with is Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) / Aluminum Composite Panel (ACP). DiBond (3M), Signabond and Omega-Bond are some of the trade names. I am very curious about whether this type of material has been tested in the Glowforge.
It is essentially aluminum bonded to both sides of a polyethylene core. It would be fantastic if the Glowforge was able to cut/score just one aluminum face (“engrave” style), and also cut all the way through both faces and the core, in a single go. I am imagining ‘cut and fold’ designs, like… a box. Or laser-cut ACM origami.

Heh. Still can’t believe that I actually ordered a (Dr. Evil Voice) “frikin’ laser”!

I’ve only ever used the 3mm (“Amber”) bamboo ply/veneer from Ponoko , but I really dig it, and will be looking for my own source:
It is cheap, lightweight, renewable, strong (enough) and looks good.

Only downside for me is some minor surface fraying, but that’s a minor detail. It also smells nice as everyone is mentioning for hardwoods. Folks on the Ponoko boards talk about ways to get rid of the smell, but I love the bittersweet, caramelized wood scent it gives off!

I’m really looking forward to playing with Felt next.

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@jbv I highly doubt you will be able to cut the dibond aluminium board. I have made signage from it before and love the stuff for printing onto. Metals are notoriously tricky to work with with laser cutting both due to the density and the heatsink capabilities(you can even make heatsinks out of aluminum blocks), the heat disapates/spreads so quickly you cannot burn, melt or cut it without a very strong laser(you are a magnitude out unfortunately, ~400w not 40~) or plasma.

You can however mark the material by either using a compound like Cermark (blackends the lasered areas) or coating the material ie. paint, plastic(not vinyl) or anodizing it then the laser simply removes areas of the coating or bleaches the anodized material. Looks great but might not be what you quite need.

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@jacktyler_co_uk I had not thought about the heat-dispersing qualities of aluminum, but now that you mention it, I can see how there could be a problem. Then again, the aluminum surface of Dibond is only 0.3mm, so I wonder how much heat it would really absorb. The 3A site does not mention lasers as a processing technique.

When I typed the comment, I had been more concerned with the potential of delaminating the aluminum from the polyethylene core, or melting the core out. I would think that in terms of simply marking the aluminum surface, the GF should do alright… the promo video does show it engraving an aluminum macbook case, right? Presumably the electronics underneath are still functioning…

I had not even thought about adding an additional coating to burn off, that could yield some interesting results. Dibond and the like come “pre-finished”; “coil-coated paint or brushed metal”. Surely that coating can be removed with the GF.

I was wondering more about the “routing and folding” technique of processing dibond. I have used a router, a table-saw, a jigsaw, a press-brake, and even had luck using a #11 blade (scoring lightly, over and over and over) with dibond and alumacor (a similar product with a corrugated plastic center instead of polyethylene). These methods all take time, make noise and waste, and rely on a steady hand paired with well-executed measurements. It sure would be neat to be able to contour-cut/score/engrave that stuff without spreading aluminum and p.e. chunks all over my workshop.

@dan have you tried any kind of ACM yet?


After more research into this, I think that I may have been confused by terminology. Etching, engraving, marking…
Am I correct, now, in thinking that the macbook cover-designs in the initial video are “markings” not “etchings” or “engravings”? That the anodized aluminum has been “discolored” by the GF’s laser to create the design? And that the surface would still feel smooth to the touch? And that this was done without any sort of additional coating being applied to the macbook?
If so, I believe that I would be able to mark dibond, but not actually cut into it in any way. Does this seem correct to anyone?

Your edit is correct. That MacBook has had the anodised layer bleached and therefor is still smooth. Interns of lasers 0.3 aluminium is still thick so won’t work unfortunately. You can however get cnc mills/routers that could make light work of it.

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I simply like cardstock to make scrapbooking but hope to optimize the machine with wood and other material.

I only wish it well works on white paper (no laser trace around the cut edges?)

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Someone else pointed out that you can prevent the discoloration by sandwiching the card stock between sacrificial pieces of paper.

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I hope I’m in the right category, here. I am completely new to what I think will be a wondrous adventure with the Glowforge and am spending the ‘waiting time’ doing research and learning new skills. Has anyone used something similar to this product?

Thank you

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Walnut, white oak, hickory, ash in that order of abundance stacked and drying in my shop. Wondering how Eastern red cedar works… Old thick paper cigar boxes, possibly because of their stiff cardboard and density. It looks like you could do some cool cutouts with that. Great for the cigar box guitar sound holes. I was breaking down a tissue (Kleenex) box for recycling and immediately saw stiff cardboard surfaces that would hold up well in cutting. imagine the dioramas the kids would make! Vegetable tanned deer hides with hair on and cardboard backed for coasters. Maybe be able to make my own Dremel type sanding disks if I can score an appropriate substrate and after checking out abrasive materials with laser. Denim. I have boxes of denim saved up for a quilt top.

Let me know how the hair on deer hides work… filter or not I’m guessing the rest of the house will not think it was your best idea…lol.

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Yes, I figured skin up, hair down and lots of venting. I was in Colorado last week and someone had coasters of cow hide that were cut in the canonical shape of a full animal skin. Looked like someone was using a chipmunk hide for a coaster. I’s say they used a cutting die.