I wanted to ask - did you consider wood block printing? Wood is easy to laser, and you can print reasonably well with it. It’s not soft like linoleum, of course, but if the laser is doing the carving, is that OK?
You might want to consider a hybrid approach. Get some linoleum gouges. Then just use the laser to engrave away the detail stuff and gouge our the bulk of the waste by hand. Would be faster, cleaner, and a whole less nasty.
Really good thought. I literally read this and looked at my friend (who’s cards we were burning) and said “why didn’t we do wood blocks?” and we both just laughed.
I guess we both got stuck on linoleum because we both have some already carved blocks that we wanted to re-visit with some tight details (hybrid method like @jkopel suggested). Having found no details online, I decided to boldly trudge into the wild unknown for the benefit of the community.
Also - I just bought some of that rubber myself - the non-odorous kind, of course.
Bummer! Thanks so much for trying out linoleum and posting your results. I had bought some small unmounted linoleum sheets with the Inventables gift cert and was looking forward to trying it - now, not so much. Wood block printing is looking a lot more appealing!
I’m reading this way after the fact, but REALLY glad the GF search query works. I have a roll of Linoleum about 100’ x 12". I bought it a long time ago to print on skateboard decks. I was just eying it, thinking coasters…? Glad I checked.
Since this post, I’ve seen someone else with better luck than me, and for a curved surface such as a skateboard deck, linoleum may be a way to go. I still stand by my experience, but I can also be a bit focused on the downsides, sometimes, and in nearly every other utilization, you can print make with better materials - but curved surfaces…
@ryanjpedersen the skateboard deck thing is history. I’ve been considering good materials for coasters. The PG plywood has MDF in the middle. Not great. Acrylic is kind of slippery. I do want to try felt, but don’t have any yet. In any case, knowing that linseed oil is a big ingredient of linoleum, it makes sense that it would make a huge mess. And my vent through the window is still kind of half assed, so no-go on lino.
Sam can probably give you some suggestions on this - as he was a printmaker and did a ton of monotyping on acrylic plates.
I literally went looking for linoluem and glowforge, and this is the article that came up.
I miss you friend! I look forward to future work parties once we can do that kind of thing in full force again.
Real Linoleum is basically linseed oil and compressed cork dust. I don’t think I can think of a more messy material to laser cut. The oil will cook off (evaporate) and only some of it will burn, the rest will condense back on to every surface in the interior of the machine. The cork will break down in to little specks that will burn, but that just turns them in to tiny specks of carbon instead of cork. And now there’s plenty of sticky oil covering every surface to act as a glue for those particles.