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What Are the Best Tips for Making Laser Cut Plastic?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Laser cut plastic often is used for signs and awards, and knowing the best way to cut plastic can help to avoid discolored edges and improper cuts. Depending on the person’s priority — quantity or quality — he should adjust the laser’s speed for laser cut plastic. There are many types of plastics, and each one reacts differently to laser cutting. The table holding the plastic should be cleaned regularly and should not reflect light. Engraving often is done with plastic, but many people forget to properly align the text or graphics before engraving.

A laser’s speed is capable of changing the quality of the cut with laser cut plastic. A laser set at a high speed can go through plastic quickly, which is good for quantity, but the edges may not be polished. The edges tend to look better when the laser is set to a slow speed, but it takes longer to cut the plastic, which may not be appropriate if the person cutting the plastic needs to cut many sheets in a limited time.

Various forms of plastic exist and, while acrylic is the most commonly used in laser cutting, there are hundreds of different plastics that can be cut with a laser. Each one is made in a different way, so each will react to the laser in a different way. Plastics that are cast and made with less stress tend to have better edges, which may be better if the plastic will be openly displayed after being cut.

To create laser cut plastic, the plastic is placed on a table and then cut with the laser. During the cutting process, the excess plastic may turn to powder and can coat the table. If the powder is not removed through a dry cleaning process — wet cleaning can cause the powder and dyes in the plastic to smear — then it may interfere with cutting or decrease edge quality. The table itself also should easily absorb light, because a table that can reflect may interfere with the laser.

Plastic often is used for signage and awards, so engraving is a common practice with laser cut plastic. The engraving usually is done on the back of the plastic so it does not interfere with the front side. If the engraving is done through the back so it shows up on the front, then the operator should mirror any text or graphics used or the engraving will not read correctly.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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