Materials to use on glowforge

Quick question to everyone out there. We just received our Glowforge at school yesterday and we are wondering what non “Glowforge” materials everyone has used? We have plexi glass squares already cut and are wondering if anyone has used their own acrylic plexi or not? Also if anyone has used their own 1/8 plywood and what what type of wood is best? Newbie here trying to get my class up and running with this amazing machine. Thanks in advance!

Various acrylics and woods. Aluminum. Cork. The other day I cut Velcro (although I’m pretty confident it released toxic fumes. But it was only for a couple of seconds, so I took the risk and it worked great.).

Yep. Smelled even worse (WAY worse, actually) than :proofgrade: acrylic.

I’ve used a bunch different thicknesses and brands.

“Best” can’t really be answered by anybody but you. So many woods, so many projects, so many different tastes. Try them all! :slight_smile:


There are so many links about this in the forum, search around, you don’t need to wait for someone to reply to this.

Basically, we’ve engraved everything from rice grains (@jules) to rat skulls (@evansd2), cut everything we can think of that isn’t nailed down or poisonous, and glued/slotted/nailed/magnetted/screwed/inlaid it all together. We’re collectively posting new and different ideas every day, what you’re asking is so broad that you won’t believe it when you start digging through the forum.


This is a list of banned materials at the Twin City maker space, it also gives reason why not to use it. Will be following this with my own. No need to replace the operator right away.


Besides wood, especially for a class, I would recommend stocking up on some nice cardboard. Its super cheap and will allow the class to test things out and make sure everything fits well before using wood. I found some nice heavy duty 3 layer cardboard that is 1/4" thick and a nice 2 layer that is 1/8" thick that I test everything on before I run it though on my nice wood. As for what materials i have used, it depends on what you want to do. Generic printer paper and card stock are fun (pop-up cards), acrylic sheets everything from 1/8"(jewelry), 1/4" (windows for a wood box) to 1/2" (parts for a robot). I have cut all types of my own non-proofgrade woods (walnut, oak, maple, wenge) from 1/8" to 1/4" and i have cut pine up to 1/2", all for making decorative boxes, vases, Christmas ornaments. But for a class, i would recommend having a bunch of different options on hand, but making everyone test cut on cardboard first, just make sure you have cardboard the same thickness as your woods.


A note… Plexiglass is a term that many folks use for any old clear acrylic looking sheets. At The big box stores they have plexiglass and lexan in the same bin and it looks the same. It is not. Acrylic is ok but varies in laserability. Lexan is not acrylic and will give very bad or disappointing results.


One other note…the plexi glass you get from the big box stores tends to be extruded acrylic. It is going to STINK to high heaven when you laser it, and might be too much for some folks to handle.

Cast acrylic has a much lower smell factor and the Proofgrade stuff is cast acrylic. (I know this sounds like I’m plugging for proofgrade again, but there really is a huge difference. Make sure you buy cast acrylic, even if it’s not Proofgrade, before you get to lasering it.)

Lasering extruded acrylic first can put you off of lasering acrylic permanently.


I would look into chipboard. It comes in varying degrees of thickness and is great for testing etc. It’s cheap. It’s more consistent than regular cardboard. And, it’s not nearly as “flamey”.


Cast acrylic edges are clear and get a flame polished when cut. It engraves with a white textured resulting surface. Extruded acrylic tends to be brittle, fractures with sharp edges and has nearly transparent engraves. It’s a bit less expensive and more consistent in thickness. Cast is a little less consistent in thickness across a large sheet.

Seconding chipboard here. You can get it in various weights (thicknesses) and colors (usually one side) or natural. You can find it at Blick’s as well as art supply stores.

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Blicks offers free shipping (or stupidly cheap?) on it with orders over $35, which is a huge value for the bigger sheets.


I think it was free last time I ordered some. I got 20 sheets of 18x24 thick chipboard. Really good deal. :slight_smile:

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Congrats on the new GF! I love knowing they are making their way into schools for creative kidlets to use.

I’m a huge fan of acrylic and simply adore the stuff. You don’t really have to worry about who you get the acrylic from as long as you can confirm the type of acrylic it is (cast vs extruded). I’m not sure where you are located, but take a look for a plastic store near you as it might be an economical place to find material for your students. I have an acrylic store in my town called Tap Plastics and they offers scrap for just $1 a sheet. It’s so inexpensive that acrylic has become my go-to materiel for just about everything. Even if there’s no Tap store near you, check around as I’ve seen several others that sell scrap as well.

This was about $25 worth as my store was trying to get rid of a bunch of scrap and basically threw it at me lol :slight_smile:


Personally, I would not recommend the use of cardboard (specifically corrugated) in highschool classroom no matter how cheap or convenient. Way too prone to flame ups. Perhaps other cardboard or thicker paper stock would be a good option. Obviously anything being hit with a laser has hazards but corrugated cardboard is not the least bit forgiving. It will be engulfed in flames in no time.


Polyester felt works very well. I’ve used my own sourced acrylic. Some hard ware store plywood. Cat food box cardboard or cereal box cardboard. Great for making letters. I’ve done natural rubber for a stamp. Denim and thin cotton. Leather. Marble and corian.

Thank you for this post! Very helpful!

What’s the website?