When cutting thin paper: Some way to keep fan from blowing scraps of paper all around?

I like to cut a lot of fine paper things, like this tri-fold card. The problem I run into is that when tiny bits of paper are cut out, the fan invariably blows it out of the way, and often the discarded bit of paper lands on top of some place that still needs cutting (and prevents it from cutting) or worse yet flops around at a weird angle and catches on fire because the laser hits discarded paper at an unfocused point.

Ideally, there would be some way for me to turn off the blower for these types of jobs. (After all, in this case, the blower is more likely to cause a fire than if it weren’t blowing at all!) But I’m sure that will never be an option.

So I’ve tried “Easy Tack” spray so to very lightly glue the paper to a second surface, and cut on this. This keeps the discards from blowing around, but that tacky sticky glue doesn’t really wipe off and keeps your paper work gummy for a while.

I’ve thought about manufacturing something like a blower-diverter that I can attach to the head for jobs like this, something that diverts the blowers air in a different direction.

Anyone else found solutions for this issue?

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The most common solution is seklema mats. Search the forum for “seklema” and you’ll see lots of discussion.

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Another solution is to make custom dash patterns to make your lines have tiny tabs so that you punch the pieces out after lasing. I’ve done it with tabs so small that you couldn’t even see the perforations after punching out.

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For some designs, some people just engrave everything so that the little bits are all burnt to ash.

Personally, I’m a fan of the Seklema mats. They are kind of expensive but, much less hassle than DIY repositionable adhesive approaches for what I do.

I just use krylon “easy tack” repositionable adhesive, but all my cut paper ends up being laminated to other layers so the residue is never an issue for me.

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Big fan of the seklema mats - they are double-sided, so they last a long time. But they don’t work with super thin paper. Looks like you’re using cardstock with reasonably thick lines, so I think it would be perfect for you.

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I underpower my cuts just barely so that I can punch them out, similar to what evansd2 mentioned, but instead of creating the dashed lines, mine are solid lines like normal. The downside to my method is if your optics aren’t clean or the natural degradation of the laser’s effectiveness occurs, the underpower may not be enough to get through the paper enough. This just means you’d have to test and tweak the settings slightly when it happens.

Here’s an example of some very delicate line work that I didn’t have the bits flying everywhere, and most of them fell out fairly easily.

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Depends on the paper, but I sometimes sandwich it between two pieces of cardboard (cereal boxes or corrugated). Sometimes the thin cereal boxes have enough weight, but nothing moves corrugated. The added bonus is that the lower level of the sandwich keeps the flashback from discoloring the middle paper.

You can always mix-and-match: thin on the bottom, then paper, then corrugated on top. (Hardest part: setting the laser height to the middle paper.)

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