Seklama Mat fail. Advice?

Hello all,

I recently purchased a Seklama 16x24in cutting mat for use in my glowforge, as I had a paper cutting project that required pristine output with no scorch marks.

Here’s the thing. I used the mat on a Universal laser (because it was bigger) and it worked MARVELOUSLY. like magic. I can’t stress how great it was for this project.

However, on then trying to use it in the glowforge (after crying a bit because I had to chop off about 4 inches of the end, or roughly $30 worth of mat…) it absolutely failed to work in the GF.

now at this point it wasn’t as sticky as it was when it was first unpeeled, but I’m not quite sure what the story is. The air assist kept blowing the paper upwards right off the mat, and ruining several successive sheets of expensive paper.

I tried washing it (as it suggests) to remove debris etc so it would regain some of it’s magical tacky properties, and it seemed to, but even so it just didn’t work at all and I ended up removing it.

I’m wondering if anyone else here has had Seklama success in a GF, and if so, what tips/tricks would you suggest for best use?

It’s pretty amazing when it works, and I want to not throw away $200 worth of mat here.

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I used some, likewise cut off a chunk, and found it worked perfectly. Mine started from new on the glowforge.

are you still using it? what are you cutting on it? is it still holding paper down?

I’m sure I need to do a better cleaning job on it, but I just have no reference baseline for how it works on the GF in a new state.

since it’s main purpose is as a mat for cutters, not lasers, there is a certain amount of material damage that happens as you lase into the substrate. I’m not sure how long it lasts with that sort of abuse.

I used it for about 10 pieces of paper and then moved on to something else. I haven’t used it again since. My main concern was shop dust ruining the stickiness of it. I wanted to move on to making some sort of vacuum table. haven’t gotten to it yet.

hmm. I used it in a very dirty industrial laser setting, so that’s probably what made the mat less sticky… but even so it’s not so great even after a wash down. I’ll have to see what the right cleansing method is and do a thorough clean again.

we ran about 20 sheets of large-size paper cutting through it, and that + the dust seemed to reduce it’s effectiveness. definitely something that needs a lot of cleaning when used with a laser.

Another approach to cut paper, could be to use some cardboard, and put the paper between two sheets of cardboard?

Haven’t tried, but thought it might work?

Good luck.

I have a seklema mat And, cut a lot of paper – heavy (80-115lb) cover stock, mainly. I’ve cut at least dozens of sheets at this point. So far, I have only used one side of the mat and, have left the protective film on the other side.

I have worked with CNC cutting machines (“sign,” “vinyl,” or “craft” cutters). The mats for those degrade over time and, my expectation is similar for the seklema mat.

My seklema mat is looking well and properly used at this point. It feels much less sticky than it did originally:

After each session using it, I have been washing it with cold water and dish soap. The amount of tack that restores feels marginal but, it helps quite a bit.

When I put a sheet of stock down, I use a scraper (one of these but, an expired credit card works well, too) to make sure it is evenly adhered in all spots. I will make even, overlapping passes in at least two directions (e.g., lengthwise, then widthwise or, across opposite diagonals).

While bits of unremovable ash may be reducing the tackiness, this gets any given spot as adhered as possible. That reduces the chances of small pieces blowing loose and causing problems during cutting. Even with my well-worn mat, I am not (yet) having many problems with that.

I note that my mat has developed a tendency to not lay perfectly flat. So, I use strong magnets to keep it flat and in place.

EDIT: I keep the mat covered with a sheet of stiff plastic when not in use to avoid accumulation of shop dust.

This is just my anecdotal input at this point, not final recommended best practices. If someone else has other suggestions, I hope they will come forward.

Once this side of my mat stops working well enough to use, I am likely to try some more aggressive approaches to cleaning (alcohol? Orange wipes? Surface abrasion?).

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Another thought: I dial in my cutting settings for each type of paper stock without the mat first. I try to get to something that just barely cuts all the way through. That way, I figure I am doing less damage to the mat.

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Scraping may be preferable when it can work, if it would be possible, and the least dangerous, however to be really useful there needs to be a breakdown of the bond that can be restored
I have been hearing of such chemistry and the mat is expensive enough that it should have that chemistry.

The problem is that the sticky is still working, but it is holding the dust and crumbs, what is needed is something to break the bonds to the dust but then come back still as sticky as ever. I do not have such mat to try things on, but of course you want to try it on places where failure will not matter a lot. It will be a solvent that can evaporate and not leave residue. Alcohol would be my first choice as least likely to damage the surface, failing that I would go with acetone first a gentle wash of a puddle and only scrubbing as a last resort.

I have used a Seklema mat several times with no problems.

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Can you just re-coat the mat with repositional spray adhesive? It’s what I do with my vinyl cutting mats and it seems to work.

The seklema mats are different than the vinyl cutter mats. The “adhesive” on the seklema mat is a ~1mm thick layer of something with the consistency of a stiff gel.

If you were going to re-coat with repositionable spray adhesive, I would just start over with something else, like a piece of MDF, draftboard or flexible laser-safe material of some sort.

As an aside, I found that approach really fiddly when using it with vinyl/craft cutters.

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Oh gotcha, I didn’t know it was gel. I could see how the gel might get clogged up with laser debris pretty quickly. After buying commercial vinyl cutting mats a few times I just started buying thin mats from the craft store and using the spray. Lot cheaper and worked well.

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This is what I do and it works great:

Get a can of this - 505 adhesive spray
Take a piece of thin draft board and remove the masking. Spray it with 2-3 light coats of the 505 and let it dry for 30 min. Now you have a reusable board to hold paper. You’ll need to reapply the spray from time to time and/or replace the board after heavy use.

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In the interest of science, I had a go at cleaning my seklema mat with 90% isopropyl alcohol. I used copious quantities (~1oz.) and, rubbed off the char and other gunk with a paper towel. With about 5 minutes of work, the surface adhesion is significantly restored. It feels about like it did when it was new. Anything on the surface came off. The only stuff that I couldn’t remove that way was in lines where I had etched into the mat with the laser.

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Cool! Good to know that alcohol works, as I’ve been considering picking up one of these.

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