Laser Cutting

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We have a 100w Boss Laser LS-1630.

Laser Material


Some materials cannot be used in the laser because they make a mess or are a fire hazard, while others will literally create poisonous gasses that will destroy the machine and the lungs of anyone standing around it.

This list of forbidden materials tries to be inclusive, but is nonexhaustive. Just because a material isn't listed here, does not mean it is safe to use in the laser!


Because many plastics are dangerous to cut, it is important to know what kind you are planning to use. Makezine has a nifty guide to Identifying Unknown Plastics.

PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leatherEmits chlorine gas when cut!Don't ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, causes the metal of the machine to corrode as chlorine is released and ruins the motion control system.
Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate/LexanCuts very poorly, discolors, catches firePolycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because ''polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation!'' This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting. It creates long stringy clouds of soot that float up, ruin the optics and mess up the machine.
ABSMelts / CyanideABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt). Cutting ABS plastic emits hydrogen cyanide, which is unsafe at any concentration.
HDPE/milk bottle plasticCatches fire and meltsIt melts. It gets gooey. It catches fire. Don't use it.
PolyStyrene FoamCatches fireIt catches fire quickly, burns rapidly, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!
PolyPropylene FoamCatches fireLike PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.
Epoxyburn / smokeEpoxy is an aliphatic resin, strongly cross-linked carbon chains. A CO2 laser can't cut it, and the resulting burned mess creates toxic fumes ( like cyanide! ). Items coated in Epoxy, or cast Epoxy resins must not be used in the laser cutter. ( see Fiberglass )
FiberglassEmits fumesIt's a mix of two materials that cant' be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)
Coated Carbon FiberEmits noxious fumesA mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated.
Any foodstuff ( such as meat, seaweed 'nori' sheets, cookie dough, bread, tortillas... )The laser is not designed to cut food, and people cut things that create poisonous/noxious substances such as wood smoke and acrylic smoke.If you want to cut foodstuffs, consider sponsoring a food-only laser cutter for the space that is kept as clean as a commercial kitchen would require.
Material with Sticky Glue BackingCoats lens, cracks lensThere are many '''normally''' laserable items such as thin wood laminates that you can purchase that become un-cuttable when the manufacturer adds a layer of peel-off glue on the bottom to attach them to surfaces. Examples include cork tiles, thin wood laminate, acrylic tiles, and paper stickers. Never cut these materials in the laser cutter if they have this backing. The glue will vaporize forming a coating on the lens that will coat it, cloud it, heat it, and then potentially crack the lens. The glue residue is worse than resin, and can't be removed without risking damage to the lens ... requiring a lens replacement.

Approved Materials

Material Settings

These settings were taken directly from Boss Laser.

Cut Settings

MaterialPower (%)Speed (mm/s)Interval (mm)Thickness
Balsa Wood5525N/A1/8"
Bass Wood5525N/A1/8"
Birch Wood7015N/A1/4"
Birch Plywood7515N/A1/4"

Engrave Settings

MaterialPower (%)Speed (mm/s)Interval (mm)Thickness
Anodized Aluminum20325.065Any
Balsa Wood20350.065Any
Bass Wood25350.065Any
Birch Wood25350.065Any
Birch Plywood25350.065Any
Powder-coated Metal20325.065Any
Mirror – Back-side20325.065Any


Laser Cutting was last modified by Derek Payton on Dec. 29, 2023, 3:49 p.m.