Where to get good materials for laser projects?

projectinspo

#1

I’m very new to this so can some of the people with experience give us some recommended placed to find good laser cutting materials like acrylics, wood, leather, etc. I know that you can laser a lot of things but I’m sure some things and materials are better than others. What should we look for and/or avoid?


#2

Have you been to http://inventables.com ? Check out the Materials section.


#3

Love Inventables! Zach’s a good friend. (Also a great place to get an inexpensive CNC to compliment your Glowforge). We’ll also sell materials when we get closer to shipping that you can use.

For budget options, ebay is a good choice as well.


#4

Thin Boards on etsy is a great place for you to buy wood in the 1/4" and 1/8" range. Lasers supposedly take a long time to cut wood of this depth, but I find it easy if you are using solid wood instead of plywood. The glue seems to mess things up and refract the laser, taking much longer to cut (3x and burned) than solid wood, in my experience.

You can also get other materials from your local big box hardware store or craft store at a premium. I said this in another post, but never cut vinyl (including contact paper), as it emits chlorine gas and will ruin your laser, and always look up the MSDS for a material before cutting. Laser decomposition isn’t the same as burning, exactly, so you might have to dig to find info about laser-cutting a given material. I recommend looking at maker-space wikis and college laser info pages, as they are a wealth of information on materials. Here’s an example of a good one

Leather, cloth, paper, wood and acrylic all cut great. Foam-core tends to cut well but melt the foam as it cuts, giving a curved appearance, but this can be fixed by cutting it at lower power or faster or both. Pink styrofoam insulation cuts very well at low power. I’ve heard other styrofoam catches fire easily, and is ill-advised, but I have no experience with this myself. I hope this helps!

side note: Certain plastics aren’t great for cutting, and emit toxic fumes beyond just PVC. I’ve read a few places that one shouldn’t cut Plexiglass, but I’ve read many other places it is merely a trade-name for acrylic sheets. Here’s a more comprehensive write-up someone did on laser-cutting plastics.


#5

Laserbits.com is also a good source.


#6

I think it would be a good idea to include a sample pack with the machine. This way we get to see what it can do and it would encourage us to order more of what we like from the store. Thanks for the posts guys.


#7

It’s a great idea mxjoker. Check out this thread; I’d love to hear your suggestions about what a sample project should be.


#8

Great resource for Thin Boards! The Flat Rate shipping is more than awesome!


#10

Wow, the idea to laser cut the packaging material for a project, is an insanely good idea. I want that! :smiley:


#11

I got this sample box of laser-engravable products from Bur-Lane at the ISA2015 trade show. I don’t know if they send out sample kits by mail, but it could be worth asking. I saw on their site that they have digital and print catalogs available.


Does anyone know what this material is?
#12

CHEAP AS HECK LEATHER!

I’ve found quite a few places to buy cheap leather to experiment on, but the most out of control deals are on this Facebook group, “Leather Swap, Trade, or Sell”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147800435424123/?fref=nf

Last week I bought twelve 6-8’ square hides for a grand total of $48.

Today, someone has a lot of 25 lbs of veg-tanned leather pieces for $50. All the pieces are between hand-sized and 4x that or so.


#13

This interested me immediately because I’m hoping to do some work with leather when I get the Glowforge. Unfortunately, their rules would leave people like me out, as they require proof that I have done leatherwork…which I have not…yet. Good resource though for those that have already done leather work.


#14

Good point, @Xabbess! Here is another group that’s just as good and doesn’t have that restriction, and has many cross posts with the other group. It also allows sales of leatherwork tools, which is a nice bonus.

Leather Tools, Patterns, and Leather–For Trade Or Sale: https://www.facebook.com/groups/484035025024607/


#15

Thank you. I’ve bookmarked that site.


#16

You could always try typing in “leather goods” on google maps, and cold calling all the local companies that show up. I’m sure that there are still many who do not think about or bother to sell or recycle their scrap.

I met a bootmaker this past weekend, who, after hearing about the glowforge and what I might be able to do with it for his business, offered me scraps of their 10oz veg-tanned leather that they currently throw away. I gave him my number, and i really hope he calls. Free scraps to play with and a possible B2B sales connection? yes please.


#17

Thanks for the tip Morgan. Are you wearing horns??? :smiling_imp:


#18

I was Hell’s Libarian for Halloween a few years ago. :stuck_out_tongue:


#19

Ny neighbor across the stree I noticed his work truck is a cabinetry contactor, I asked if he works with veneers and thinner wood pieces, No Im hoping I have a soiurce as Ive asked him so save anyu scraps. He pulled oua a beautifil maple 1 inch by 5 in by about 24 inches for me to try something with. ( MY make some pen blanks to turnm but also got some mdf with veneer laminate from him,. Now for the laser… need to get that cheep chinese laser up and running. Got one last week 0 still havent had time to look at it.


#20

When you get your laser reward his generosity by making him something with some of the material he provides, perhaps his logo… you never know where that might lead.
Cabinetry would likely yield a nice assortment of scrap. Trash for him, but valuable material for you.
Great resource!


#21

You mention CNC, but isn’t the Glowforge also technically a CNC (computer numerical control) machine? It seems like people usually mean routers when they talk about CNC, but it seems like GF is a CNC laser cutter. Am I wrong?