Seeking Help Finding Materials Locally/Online

materialsources
materials

#1

Hey all. I’m having trouble finding safe materials in Canada. Proofgrade can’t be shipped here yet, our Amazon selection sucks, and I can’t find any hobby store locally that specifically caters to laser cutting. The only stuff I can find locally is questionable, and I really don’t know what can be cut safely. I can’t find any guide on here for materials, just individual posts here and there.

Is there any laser cutting resource that lists laser-able materials?
Are there any US companies that will ship to Canada without doubling/tripling costs for the shipping?
Any advice on finding materials at woodworking stores, hardware stores, etc?

There’s one plastics store in my area, and they have a few different kinds of materials that MIGHT work but despite spending hours on google, I can’t find any definitive answers:

  • Acrylic with plastic wrapping. Do I have to remove the plastic? Is there any masking paper I can apply to get similar results to proofgrade?
  • ABS - I seriously can’t figure out if this would work or not, because there’s so much conflicting information.
  • Polypropylene - Also has conflicting information everywhere.
  • Styrene
  • Corroplast
  • PETG
  • Low Density Polyethylene
  • Polystyrene

I am also looking for plywood and hardwood, but I can’t find anything with information on what glues are used or anything like that. I have no idea where I can find that information, or where I could even buy various woods and plywoods in sheet form.

Thanks all!


#2

It’s been discussed before. In case you didn’t search…

https://community.glowforge.com/search?q=canada%20suppliers

https://community.glowforge.com/search?q=canadian%20suppliers

If you’ve searched and still didn’t get your answers… well, good luck! Not canadian so can’t speak from experience.

In general search for “material supplier” or “material source” and you’ll find online resources.

Like so:
hardwood supplier - https://community.glowforge.com/search?q=hardwood%20supplier

Hardwood source - https://community.glowforge.com/search?q=hardwood%20source

Oh and re: glues, look for an MSDS on the material in question. It should have what you need. Also search for “MSDS” because there’s lots of discussion about what they mean and how worried you should really be.


#3

Thanks for that!

I’m looking through those searches and its a lot of repeats of what I’ve already seen. Unanswered questions, suppliers only available in the US, and so forth. Was hoping I’d have a bit more luck with my own post and specific questions, since I can’t find too much information on here :confused:


#4

How about Trotec’s laser materials? It’s an Austrian company, but if I remember correctly, they have a Canadian subsidiary.

http://engraving-supplies.ca

One of the difficulties is that typical dimensions for laser materials is 12"x24" nominal which means 4" or so too wide for the GF. If you have a pro, you can stick in in the front slot and cut it down that way. Or a saw.


#5

The acrylic sold by Inventables, and meant to be lasered, has a clear plastic film on it. Most people remove it because it messes up their engraves. If you’re just cutting through it, it doesn’t really matter. As lasering acrylic doesn’t generate smoke, just stink, there is no real point (IMO) in having a masking material.

You can buy masking material. Just search masking material, or vinyl transfer paper, on this forum and there are plenty of threads and recommendations. A sign material supplier, like signwarehouse is generally your cheapest bet, but no idea on shipping costs to Canada. And the vinyl in vinyl transfer paper refers to its original purpose: cutting vinyl sheets with a drag cutter and then using this material to transfer the cut vinyl to where it is mounted. Just be sure to buy the paper backed stuff (the vast majority of it) and not the clear stuff. The clear stuff is bad for a laser unless it specifically says laser safe.


#6

During storage it keeps the acrylic from getting scratched up.


#7

masking on acrylic can also help with avoiding stray drops of solvent during glue-up.


#8

Now, that’s a tip worth having!
When I cut acrylic that comes with polyethylene masking, I’ve been removing the top side masking and leaving on the masking on e the bottom. The trouble with that is that cuts and engraves tend to leave a slight fogging on the top surface down wind of where the laser hits. No surprise – it’s where a little of the vaporized acrylic condenses before the air assist blows it away. I’ve been thinking about fixing this by covering the top surface with paper masking, but it always seemed like more trouble than its worth. But I’ve also been struggling with stray drops of glue, too. Now I have two reasons to do it.
So, when I make my next cut in that acrylic, I’m going to give paper masking a try.


#9

Definitely looking into Trotec. I sent them an email but haven’t gotten a reply yet. Guess we’ll see how ridiculously expensive they are hah


#10

A few spot checks looked competitive with the Glowforge material. Some stuff I checked was a little cheaper, but shipping was a bit more, so it looks like if you order more than one piece at a time you’re ahead.


#11

Trotec makes nice stuff but it is really expensive. If you cruise the web site you should be able to find a way to request samples. They are pretty liberal with the sample kit and catalog in my experience.

As others have said, remove plastic masking on acrylic before engraving.

Haven’t tried ABS, heard it’s a mess. Same with styrene.

PETG can be cut, kind of. I was able to cut simple shapes from I think .060" PETG with acceptable quality. (You can search my post history.) Cuts too close together caused it to get melty and yellow. If it’s too thick, I think you’re screwed too. It is in no way a substitute for the magic of acrylic but for some specific thin, simple things that need to be optically clear and TOUGH, it’s good stuff.