Material Availability in the UK



I’ve been wondering about material availability recently and the number of topics with people showing the benefits of proof grade materials has me a little bit concerned. So I’m wondering if anyone knows any good suppliers of laser materials in the UK? I assume ordering proof grade materials from the US would be very expensive and I imagine the same goes for inventibles.

Failing that would I still get good results from regular materials?

This may be my first post but I’m one of those who ordered pre-October 2015 and I’m eagerly awaiting my unit.


Proofgrade material is a very new concept. People, including myself, have gotten really good results from “regular” materials using laser-cutters for a long time. It just requires a bit more experimentation on your part. You find some material, make a few test cuts/rasters to see how it behaves (you can also google it to get a good “starting point”). Once you know those settings, then you’re good to go.

I don’t know of any sources for material in the UK, since I live in Canada. I’ve found some local things here that have worked very well for me.

I now have 1/2 dozen different materials that I regularly use. I wrote down the settings to use for those material. When I use them, I just have to look up the settings in my notebook. It’s not as “easy” as proofgrade, but it’s not a big hassle either.


Thanks for the reply, it’s very reassuring! I know proof grade materials are a new concept by glowforge but I was mostly trying to see if anyone knows any good UK based suppliers of materials specifically designed for lasers or just ones that provide good results.


I have bought a range of materials from Horbarts in the UK but I haven’t got a Glowforge to test them with yet! I actually bought them years ago when I was planning to build my own laser cutter but never got around to it. I have 1W and 12W near IR diode lasers, so I might actually put together a laser cutter before my Glowforge arrives if it doesn’t come this summer.

Laser diodes give a much smaller spot than CO2 so you don’t need as much power to get the same power density. They are only just below the visible spectrum though, so you can only cut optically opaque materials that don’t reflect red light.

Where to buy materials in New York?

@m_raynsford should know of some.


Kitronik is my go to place, they were already stocking good materials but they really understand the importance of high quality knot free materials for lasering.

Otherwise I keep a list of what I use and where I buy on my website


Hi my name is Yurri… where you located in Uk… I was ordered GF is well!!! I interest about materials is well!!!


Hi Yurri!


This isn’t really true, the lasers have a focusing lens that focus the beam down to a small spot, it’s that that creates the power dense enough to vaporise the materials. I find that my 80W laser has a much smaller spot size than my 1W diode because it is better focused


There is a limit to how small you can focus the spot related to the wavelength. LED IR lasers have a wavelength an order of magnitude smaller than CO2 lasers, so the spot can be an order of magnitude smaller I believe. Also it comes out of the diode very small to start with instead of about 5mm for a CO2 tube.


The challenge is that spot size is also related to coherence length, and the coherence length of most laser diodes is minuscule - you can get a sense of it here. I don’t have the coherence length handy for our tube but it’s going to be rough order of magnitude similar to the HeNe tubes mentioned.


Interesting read–thanks! Learned lots. Relevant to my latest project of using laser pointers to calibrate a spectrophotometer I’m building.

Do you happen to know the M^2 factor for the GF laser?


I’ve got a new word…collimated:relaxed:
Now, got to figure out how to work it into a conversation with my brother. :innocent:


“Hey brother, can you help me work collimated into a sentence, please?”

There done. 5$. Cheque or cash please.


ROFL! We play a little game of “stump the sibling” when we get together…he generally nails me to the wall with his surgical terminology. I can sometimes get him with an obscure engineering reference!

(Kid can knock out the NYT Crossword in like half an hour. With a pen. Annoying as all get out.)


When you say something simultaneously, you blurt, “collimated, you owe me a soda.”


Never looked through something like Google Glass so can’t know if it works the same way. But the Heads-up-Displays in jet aircraft and displays used in modern fighter pilot helmets are all collimated displays. It just means that the imagery and symbols projected on the glass, windscreen or helmet visors seem to be focused at infinity. So you don’t have to refocus your eyes when looking back and forth between the image and the real world.

Cars are starting to get those types of displays.

Just love it when I get to slip in a comment about something I knew before buying the GF. Only happens about .002% of the time here.


That might be doable…he’s big on flashy car tech! What guy isn’t?
(He-he-heh!) :innocent:


Yep same thing. I have a dev version of Glass. Disappointed it never made it - but all the people who thought Glass wearers were using the Glass camera to film them created too much backlash.

That and the card interface was not necessarily intuitive.


The Explorer program has ended, but Google Glass is still being developed. Very much so.

It did not fail, it was just promoted and hyped to the general public way too early (sound familiar?).