What materials can lasers process?

Principles for selecting materials for laser processing


The primary principle for selecting materials for laser processing is non-toxicity. By non-toxic, it not only requires that the material is non-toxic under normal storage and usage conditions, but also that it does not produce toxic gases, toxic smoke or other toxic substances during laser processing. If the material is toxic or hazardous, or produces toxic or hazardous substances during laser processing, then for your personal safety and the safety of other property like the laser machine, we believe you absolutely cannot use laser processing on this material. If you insist on using it, we take no responsibility for the consequences.

Laser processable

After confirming the material is non-toxic, we still need to confirm that the material can indeed be laser processed. Materials that can be processed by non-metal laser engraving/cutting machines should:
  • Have not too high reflectivity. High reflectivity materials like metals are not suitable for non-metal laser engraving/cutting, because they will reflect most of the laser beam, making it difficult for the laser to act on the high reflectivity material. Not only that, but the reflected laser beam may harm the machine or people around it. If you want to laser process high reflectivity materials like metals, we recommend choosing a laser marking machine instead.
  • Be thermosetting materials. These materials do not easily melt when heated during laser processing, allowing the desired processing effect to be achieved.
  • Be non-flammable materials. These materials do not easily catch fire during processing. Additionally, do not choose materials that may damage the machine or wiring during processing, such as carbon fiber. If you insist on using them, we take no responsibility for the consequences.

Able and desired to use

After confirming the material is non-toxic and laser processable, feel free to choose your favorite material to laser fabricate with! If you lack inspiration or don’t know which material to choose, we provide some suggested reference materials below.

Suggested materials

Leyu Laser provides lists of materials and processing techniques suitable for the various laser engraving machines and marking machines they offer, along with comprehensive material parameter lists. Common materials for laser processing can be categorized into 7 major types: wood, metal, plastic, fabric, leather, stone, and paper.

Wood includes plywood like birch plywood, particleboard like oriented strand board and fiberboard, and solid wood like black walnut and purpleheart commonly used for interior furnishings.

Metals include common metals and alloys like stainless steel, brass, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, nickel, and anodized aluminum.

Plastics include various thicknesses and types like POM, dual color board, acrylic, PP, EVA and other common plastics, but not PVC which produces toxic smoke when laser processed.

Fabrics include smooth or fuzzy, soft or rigid fabrics from clothing to upholstery like 100% cotton, felt, imitation silk, canvas and more.

Leathers include imitation and genuine leathers suitable for making clothing, shoes, bags, furniture, etc.

Stones include marble, sandstone, slate, pumice, glazed tiles, ceramics, travertine, jade and other architectural/decorative stones, as well as graphite commonly used for refractory and conductive coatings.

Papers include various thicknesses and types like white cardboard, corrugated paper, sketch paper, sulfuric paper used for drawing, crafting, packaging, etc.

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