Hello, I was wondering has anyone cut FRP on their glowforge? I am looking to cut .09 inch thick Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic, but before I went destroying a bunch of material, thought I would ask if anyone has cut any on their glowforge before?
Do you know what the actual plastic part of the FRP is made of? (“Plastic” can refer to a lot of different things.) And I don’t know for sure how true it is, but I’ve seen fiberglass listed as unsafe to laser on several sites.
Here is the MSDS for the FRP I believe the original poster wishes to cut. I would also like to use this material in my GF. Thx for any information the GF community can provide.
Even if the plastic were safe to cut I’m pretty sure you would not be able to cut through the fiberglass.
Fiberglass fiber is actually glass that would have to be brought to its melting point. If you have seen something like a boat fire you would see that the plastic burned but the fiber did not melt.
The plastic is Polyester so it does not contain chlorine or sulfur that could eat your machine so there is that, but I would expect a fire before you melted the fibers. You could try it and please report back what you find if you do but I would expect the fibers to be a significant issue and watch it like a hawk during the attempt.
Short answer seems to be no. The low speed and heat required to cut thru the fiber results in very poor edges, then you have the issue of whether the vapor will be harmful or damage the machine.
I tried a piece before I knew that plastics were potentially bad.
It cut thru no problem. It was white FRP and the edges yellowed very slightly because of the heat, but it did cut cleanly.
I got worried after I read that some plastics will damage the laser so I haven’t cut it again.
If someone who knows can read that MSDS that I posted and let me know if there are any dangerous components that could damage the GF that would be great! … otherwise it cuts very very well.
I’m surprised it cut through the fiberglass. It must be very short random fibers rather than tape-like continuous fibers.
I looked through the MSDS, specifically looking for corrosive or highly toxic products of combustion/decomposition like HCl and didn’t find any. They do mention carbon monoxide but I would expect that to exit your vent and not cause substantial concentrations in the room. Of course, you must take full responsibility for any issues you may have with cutting the material in your machine. My personal opinion is that it’s probably okay.
And I’m moving this topic to Beyond The Manual where discussions of safety must reside.
They state it releases “low molecular weight hydrocarbons”, and chlorinated polycyclics a classified as such, so there is a chance that could be released.
They state it contains “inorganic fillers”, there’s no way to know what that is.
They also state “Surface finishes are factory applied” which “do not release any hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use.” Normal conditions include “machining” which produces dust that should not be inhaled (glass dust is bad.) My concern here is that the undefined surface finish might be hazardous when cut.
I’m not trying to scare you. You asked if we would look at the MSDS, I did, and personally would not risk it in my machine given the unknowns.
I appreciate the advice provided from you guys! I am a little leery to try it again.
I am considering an X-Carve (maybe Shapeoko)… which would be perfect for this material.
I may try another piece of the FRP and I will upload a video of the cut to see if that helps further this conversation.
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