Laser Cutting Acrylic

Laser cutting acrylic is an exceptionally popular application for China cut Laser machines because of the high-quality results that are produced.  Depending on the type of acrylic you’re working with, the laser can produce a smooth, flame-polished edge when Laser Cut, and it can also produce a bright, frosty white engraving when laser engraved.Types of Acrylic Before beginning to experiment with acrylic in your laser, it’s important to understand the different types of this substrate. There are actually two types of acrylics suitable for use with the laser: cast and extruded.  Cast acrylic sheets are made from a liquid acrylic that is poured into molds that can be set into various shapes and sizes. This is the type of acrylic used for most of the awards you see on the market. Cast acrylic is ideal for engraving because it turns a frosty white color when engraved. Cast acrylic can be cut with a laser, but it will not result in flame-polished edges. This acrylic material is better suited for engraving.  The other type of acrylic is known as extruded acrylic, which is a very popular cutting material. Extruded acrylic is formed through a higher-volume manufacturing technique, so it is typically less expensive than cast, and it reacts very differently with the laser beam. Extruded acrylic will cut cleanly and smoothly and will have a flame-polished edge when laser cut. But when it is engraved, instead of a frosted look you will have a clear engraving.Laser Cutting Speeds Cutting acrylic is usually best achieved with relatively slow speed and high power. This cutting process allows the laser beam to melt the edges of the acrylic and essentially produce a flame-polished edge.  Today, there are a several acrylic manufacturers who produce a variety of both cast and extruded acrylics that feature different colors, textures, and patterns. With so much variety, it’s no wonder acrylic is a very popular material to laser cut and engrave.Laser Engraving Acrylic  For the most part, laser users engrave acrylic on the back side to produce a look-through effect from the front. You’ll see this often on acrylic awards.  Acrylic sheets typically come with a protective adhesive film on the front and back to prevent it from getting scratched. We recommend removing the protective adhesive paper from the back of the acrylic before engraving, and leaving the protective cover layer on the front to prevent scratching while handling the material. Don’t forget to reverse or mirror your artwork before sending the job to the laser since you’ll be engraving the back side.  Acrylics generally engrave well at a high speed and low power. It doesn’t take much laser power to mark the acrylic, and if your power is too high you’ll notice some distortion in the material.Interested in a laser machine for cutting acrylic? Fill out the form on our page to get a full product line brochure and laser cut and engraved samples.

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