One material I haven’t read about cutting with the Glowforge is Masonite! I was walking around the hardware store today and I saw that they had really nice sheets (compared to what they had of other materials) of 1/4 inch Masonite and I thought it would be a great material to use for some projects. Any word on how the Glowforge handles it? A quick google search gets lots of results but so far I’ve seen nothing on the community page or in the FAQ
MDF is different than Masonite or tempered hardboard. I’m not sure on the construction technique, but in color Masonite is a dark brown where MDF is more of a tan color. MDF takes paint better than Masonite and you can get it in thicknesses up to an inch. As far as I know you can only get Masonite in 1/8" or 1/4" sizes. MDF has a lot more expansion and contraction than Masonite does due to how the humidity is that day. I’ve also had Masonite de-laminate on me before while using it.
We’ve found that the ability to cut MDF/HDF varies by supplier. The stuff from the local Home Depot wouldn’t cut even with 10+ passes. Guessing it’s the binder used by the manufacturer. Stuff from our local hardwood/plywood supplier cuts wonderfully. I’d recommend sourcing a few samples and trying them out. A supplier that specializes in woods could also probably give you more info about what’s going into the material. Here’s a quick primer on glues which make a big difference when laser cutting plywoods/fiberboards.
Thanks for the information folks! This is a great help.
The Masonite I saw at the store was the type that was flat on both sides. I thought it would be great for doing small projects. Maybe I’ll pick up a piece and see how it holds up to just cutting and leaving around in the shop before I subject it to lasering
As @spike says, it varies tremendously by supplier. I bought some 0.2" MDF on sale two years ago that I couldn’t cut through - gave it to a friend with a 100w laser and he still couldn’t blast through it, no matter what the speed.
Other MDF and HDF cuts fine (although check the MSDS because the glue may be hazardous). Just depends on the supplier.
I saw at my local big-box store that they had some 4’x8’ sheets of 1/8" and 1/4" hardboard made by Georgia Pacific (the untempered variety which is what I understand a 40W laser could cut). I contacted them to find out if they used any adhesive’s during the process and this is the response I received.
Thanks for doing the research and posting the results!
With proper precautions (i.e. wear an organic vapor respirator, and use a filter on the exhaust) it should still be possible to cut safely. Better to avoid it if possible, but I think most press board/masonite is made with a Formaldehyde based glue. I know I can smell it when cutting the stuff with my table saw.
In the pics of my shop, the bench in the center of the room and the jewelers bench is 3", and the other tops are 3/4" of a product called Benolex. That 3" bench top weighs at least 300lbs.
The 3" stuff was used as a mount for large diesel engines in production facilities.
Heavy as stone, and hard to cut. That half circle cut out on the jewelers bench took me a Saturday afternoon with a jigsaw.
The smell is unmistakably Masonite.
When you could get it, it was very expensive.
For the 1/8" thicknesses of masonite, hard to find a tougher stronger wood source material. @jkopel, I didn’t know that smell was formaldehyde
I have heard that it is not such a big deal in small quantities. I got somewhat sensitized working as a formica installer trimming with a router all day long. I still use masonite, but I wear an organic vapor respirator and that makes a big difference.
I’m replying to my own post because I didn’t want this to get lost in an edit, but I may still cut the untempered hardboard and use it as a pattern. I’ve heard that putting super glue on the edge makes it harder like tempered hardboard and thus more durable…and it soaks in so as not to add material to the pattern profile.