Is Power Mesh laser safe

qa

#1

So in my medical molding projects we are using Power Mesh fabric, and for one of our upcoming projects laser cutting (it’s actually a real pain to cut as it is so stretchy) would be optimal.

Power Mesh:
92% Nylon
8% Spandex

I know normally nylon melts, but this stuff is insanely thin…


#2

nothing particularly scary in the msds. The question is will it cut clean or do some weird pull away? I’d love to give it a go if you can get a sample to me.


#3

Yeah, that is the key question (after safe). I mean I already make bad cuts with a pair of scissors… :scream:

I’ll PM you about sending you a sample


#4

I wonder if shears made for cutting Kevlar will handle it? I have a set if you want to mail a sample this way?


#5

The problem isn’t that it’s tough (well it is, but not in the same way as kevlar) it is that it is insanely thin and floppy, and super stretchy… Hard to even define what a straight line is when you are holding it and it is continuously stretching.


#6

You could stabilize the material with an adhesive. Hobby vinyl cutters (some of which can also do fabrics) use a sticky mat to hold the work piece. If you do it right, the adhesive all stays behind when you peel the finished piece off. I guess you’d need a solid metal backing piece, and an adhesive like Krylon Easy-Tack… which you’d have to verify was laser safe too.

Edit to add: in case it was not clear, you put a light coat of adhesive on the backing material, then smooth the work piece down. The backing need to only tacky enough to barely restrain the material you are cutting, especially if you are cutting with a laser and not a drag knife.


#7

Maybe a vac table and a roller knife?? But think the laser will be your best bet


#8

But this then gets coated or embedded in silicone, and I have learned the chemistry there is FUNKY! I’ve had the colorant in 3D filaments interfere with curing, or adhesives, etc. It’s actually quite twitchy stuff until it is cured…


#9

While Easy-Tack leaves no residue that I can see… but I am sure it isn’t zero. If the next steps are finicky, maybe you can do some kind of solvent wash to remove any residual adhesive? Nylon is pretty resistant to acetone, not sure about spandex… Maybe 100% isopropyl?

Interesting problem!


#10

I can tell you by experience, that acetone is not a good mix with spandex.

Sisters spadex pants secretly “borrowed” for a concert in the 80s…found I had sat in gum, tried to remove said gum with nail polish remover (acetone)
Hid spandex pants that mysteriously aquired a new hole where the gum was…lmao​:confused::scream:


#11

I hate it when that happens. Note to self… :grimacing:


#12

Simply putting a 2mm acrylic or other inexpensive stiff material on top of it as a sacrificial layer to hold it in place might work.

Or even between 2 sheets.


#13

Lots of good ideas on how to handle delicate items. I hope the sample @henryhbk sends is enough to try several if just straight up cutting doesn’t do it. I’ll be VERY tickled if we come up with a way to accurately cut it without contaminating it. Keep the ideas coming, you may be able to say your idea is being used at Havard if it is the one that works best!


#14

Are you only asking if it’s laser safe, or are you interested in ideas for other options?

Are you needing to cut complex shapes? If you’re considering other approaches, knowing the shapes and sizes you’re trying to get would help. For instance, a guillotine would be good for some kinds of shapes and a hobby knife (X-Acto) would be good for others.


Does it stiffen up when it’s cold? I know some places just have liquid nitrogen on-hand, if it’s easy enough for you to get your hands on some, maybe freezing it would help.

Similar to sticking it down to something tacky, maybe you could stick it down with something mechanical. I’m thinking a sheet of something with a ton of tiny little spikes on it, something like a sheet of the hook half of Velcro. Unfortunately, I don’t know if sheets of tiny little spikes actually exist.

If you are left with cutting the shapes by hand, maybe you could go the sticky mat approach, but make sure the glue doesn’t touch the final shape. Maybe you could place the Power Mesh on top of a sheet of paper, then put another piece of paper on top of that that has been cut into the shape you want; this piece will act as a mask. Then use some kind of spray adhesive and spray the whole thing down. Before the glue dries, peel off the mask. Allow the rest to cure, then cut both the paper and the mesh with scissors (or whatever). Of course, you’d want to offset the mask by some amount to give yourself a buffer when cutting (and a buffer to keep the glue from seeping into the part you’re keeping). With this method you could prolly use any ol’ glue, I bet even spray paint would work.

Roller knife sounds like a good idea to me, but will a vacuum table hold a mesh? I’d guess it wouldn’t.


#15

They use vacuum in textile applications all the time, but I guess it would depend on how open the mesh is…

This is quite the think tank @dan has assembled here! I love it :heart:


#16

I cut lots of fabric, including power mesh. I find the best way to cut fabric, especially slippery/stretchy ones, without worrying about flopping around and stretching is to smooth it out on a cutting mat and cut it with a rotary cutter. If you’re wanting straight lines, an acrylic ruler to guide the rotary cutter really helps. All of which are readily available in a variety of sizes at a local JoAnn’s type store.

If you want a specific shape other than the rectangular grid provided by the cutting mat + ruler, cut it out of something like freezer paper or butcher paper and lay it on top of the fabric with some weights (larger washers work great) and cut around the shape with the rotary cutter.

If you want really particular shapes a laser cutter might be easier if it works well, but a rotary cutter on a cutting mat is a great low-tech way to get good cuts on fabric like that.


#17

That is where the laser will help…cut out your unique shape in acrylic…


#18

Custom templates for quilting and other sewing projects is one of the things I’m really looking forward to using my glowforge for!

Although with rotary cutting, even the mini rotary cutters have some limitations on interior curves/corners and hard acrylic templates are less forgiving for this on certain shapes than paper ones.


#19

So we are currently using a combination of the mat/hobby knife and straightedge approach. This works for very simple models. However is worthless on some of our super complex shapes (like heart valve leaflets which are basically like little parachutes with strings the size of your thumbnail with a complex spline shape). The current sim I am working on for the dental faculty has little cross shapes that fold up to form a cup the size of a tooth socket (like pencil eraser sized).

The laser is really the one of choice as it also allows for rapid production of many shapes.


#20

Not even sure if it’s possible…but how about an acrylic platform…take the mesh…wrap it around the acrylic with just a little sluice of water between…hydrometric ? attachment ? ehhh what do I know ?