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.
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.
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.)
Yeah if the laser never gets to the mat, then sure. As @ekla said, it’s a bit risky, it’s easy to over engrave paper goods. Why chance it then there are better solutions? If you’re just engraving paper, you don’t need to worry about it blowing away and can pin or weight it down however you like. For example:
They do eventually wear out if you are cutting through your material on them. I’m on my third mat in something over five years. I cut several hundreds of jobs on paper a year. I am not aware of anyone else here wearing out even one mat yet.
If you are careful to adjust your settings so that you just cut through the material (using this method, perhaps), you will minimize damage to the Seklema mat.
If you are just holding leather patches down while you engrave them, I would not expect you to be damaging the Seklema mat much at all.
Ash accumulation will make it less tacky but, you can clean that off with isopropyl alcohol and paper towels periodically, as needed.
The mats are double-sided. So, you get two sides to wear out per mat.
As @ekla suggests, a piece of MDF coated with the Odif 505 Temporary Spray Adhesive will also work well for some stuff. The cost of a can is probably worth a try if you are hesitant on the Seklema mat.