1. Which materials are particularly good for laser cutting with Mr Beam?
Wood: laser plywood (poplar up to 4mm, birch up to 3mm), balsa wood (up to 4mm), kraftplex (up to 3mm)
Textiles / Fabrics: felt (up to 6mm), jersey, cotton, etc.
Paper & Cardboard: Photo paper, cardboard (up to 5mm)
plactics: acrylic (certain colours, up to 3mm), foam rubber (up to 20mm), foam (up to 20mm), polypropelen (up to 0,8mm)
Leather: natural leather (up to 1mm), artificial leather (up to 1mm), vegan leather
Latex and natural latex (up to 1mm)
2. Which materials are particularly good for engraving with Mr Beam?
Wood: cork, bamboo, laser plywood, most of the wood types
Textiles / Fabrics: e.g. coloured and thick textiles like jeans, jersey, felt, etc.
Paper & cardboard: grey cardboard, packaging cardboard (single wave, double wave)
Stone: e.g. slate, concrete, pebble
Leather: natural leather, artificial leather, vegan leather
Acrylic (certain colours)
Dark or black anodized Aluminium (please note that blank aluminium won't, as it reflects most of the laser light)
Mirror (the backside)
Floormat: e.g. coconut-fibre floormat
And this is how our material library looks like in the Mr Beam software app, which we regularly update with new materials and laser parameters:
In the following we would like to explain why different materials react to laser-cutting or engraving in different ways, and what you should pay attention to when planning your next project.
3. What is happening with the material when it's being laser-cut or engraved?
Laser cutting is a thermal process - this means the energy of the laser light needs to be absorbed by the material. The amount of absorbed energy is the amount of light which is not reflected by the material and is not passing through a (semi-)transparent material.
Example: A mirror is reflecting 100% of the laser light, a piece of clear acrylic is passing 100% of the laser light. In both cases the material cannot be laser-cut or engraved.
4. Why does the colour of the material matter?
The colors we perceive are the wavelengths a material reflects. Black objects, for example, reflect almost no light, blue objects reflect only light in the spectrum 440-470nm. All other light in the visible spectrum is absorbed. We have a blue laser beam (450nm), this means blue and white objects reflect the laser light best, while black objects absorb it best. Additionally, colors complementary to blue in the color circle (yellow, orange, red) absorb most of the blue light. The more blue light is absorbed, the better our laser cutter works.
Gerenerally speaking: The more blue light can be absorbed, the better can the material be cur or engraved by our laser cutter. Lighter colours require more laser energy than darker colours. E.g. an orange felt is much easier to laser cut than white or light-blue. But apart from the colour of the material, other properties like material density and texture play a major role. Thus in contrast to white felt, you can laser-cut or engrave white coarse paper fairly well.
5. Which materials cannot be laser-cut or engraved with Mr Beam?
Transparent, mirroring or very bright materials are generally very hard or not possible to laser-cut or engrave. This is true for most of the metals, transparent acrylic or glas.
Is it possible to cut or engrave metals with Mr Beam?
Mr Beam cannot cut or engrave metals, as in this case laser beam is reflected by the material and thus has no effect on it. The only exception is dark anodized aluminium. The laser only removes the anodized coating, so there is no actual deepening in the material.
Can Mr Beam cut acrylic?
When working with acrylic, it's its colour which plays a very big role. Red-ish, black and dark acrylics up to 2mm can be cut with several passings with Mr Beam dreamcut. Blue and light colours cannot be cut, unfortunately. Have a look at our article on synthetic materials and plastics.
Can Mr Beam engrave glas?
Unfortunately, glas cannot be engraved with Mr Beam, as the blue laser beam transmits (goes through) the opaque material and has no effect on it.