Hi can I cut PVC with my glowforge?
No. A byproduct is acid which will destroy the laser and sensors very, very quickly.
The “C” in PVC is Chloride. You never want to burn that as it creates hydrochloric acid as well as toxic fumes which will ruin the machine in as little as one exposure.
Great question and I’m SO glad you came here to ask instead of trying it first!
Anything with the word “Vinyl” in it should be considered a no-no. With one exception, material that is described as “Vinyl” but is really some other plastic. If it has the word “Vinyl” and it’s advertised as “laser safe” it’s probably in this category. Laserable “Vinyl” decal sheets being an example.
Not to mention those “toxic fumes” are chlorine gas, which is a banned chemical weapon.
I grew up in DC near a neighborhood where they used to test chemical weapons during WWI and they’d find a chlorine shell every once in a while and have to evacuate a block or two until they got the Army to come clean it up. Apparently after first finding stuff in 1992, they finished the cleanup last week, more than 100 years after the war ended.
The one thing I recently learned about that has vinyl in the name but is not truly vinyl (which frustrates me that they call it that LOL) - many types of HTV (heat transfer vinyl) are laser safe. Most of the Siser HTVs are laser safe, but you can look up each separate one to verify.
Anyway, I would never have used HTV in the laser before learning about this so I’m kind of excited to give this a try. I feel compelled to state: Please note that regular adhesive vinyl is NOT LASER SAFE. lolol Just Heat Transfer Vinyl and only the ones that specifically say they are laser-safe for that exact brand and color and type.)
Thanks community - you are quite correct! While you can use many types of plastics in your Glowforge, unfortunately, vinyl isn’t laser-compatible. When cut or engraved, vinyl can release gases that are hazardous to people and can cause damage to your Glowforge.
If you’re interested in a hard plastic, we recommend acrylic as a substitute for vinyl. Acrylic is inexpensive, beautiful, cuts and engraves well, and is available in many colors.
If you’re looking for a flexible fabric, some have reported success with llyhttps://www.stahls.com/heat-transfer-material-thermo-film, but we haven’t tested it ourselves.