MDF Cutting

Hello all.

I am digital fabrication teacher and my students will be making wood puzzles. I am giving the option of .25 inch, .5 inch and 1 inch MDF. Can the Glowforge Pro cut through 1 inch? Can i take out the tray and cut on the floor of the printer?

Has any one done this before? What is the power and speed needed at these thicknesses and how many passes did you use?

Thanks!

no. you’re not going to be able to do 1". and if you do enough passes to go through .5", it’s going to be a burned up charry mess around the edges. a 40w laser isn’t really strong enough to cut anything .5" or bigger cleanly.

it’s not impossible to do .5" material, but there are a lot of issues and it’s not simple. i would not suggest trying this with students.

1/4" and 1/8" are much better for puzzles, anyway (presuming you mean jigsaw puzzles). they would be very clunky any thicker.

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Stick with 1/4" and use the Thick Proofgrade Draftboard settings.

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You could also make puzzles with other materials. Chipboard is especially affordable. 1/8" plywood would work, acrylic, etc.

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yes. i would recommend 1/8" or 1/4" baltic birch. that’s what i make most of my puzzles with. mostly 1/8".

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I have a Pro and I also have 1/4 MDF. I have to use a speed of 120 and the edges are very badly charred.

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I literally make wooden puzzles as a business, and 1/4" ply is the standard. Since it sounds like a donation, I would go with the 0.25" MDF
– BUT–
Get some to test first! All MDFs are made differently, and each will cut differently. You may find that, like @shop said, you are left with a charry mess, regardless of the thickness you are attempting to cut.

Don’t rule out acrylic! Often you can get donations from a Sign and Trophy shop, and acrylic puzzle will cut consistently, unlike wood. Colored acrylic can be designed into a themed puzzle (think orange/green for a pumpkin), and mirror or white acrylic can be pre-colored with alcohol ink or other paints safe to laser.

Several years ago I designed a puzzle cutting lesson for the Glowforge for middle school students. In fact, if you are interested, message me and I’ll see if I can dig it up and send it to you :wink:

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