Advice for total laser newbie


#1

Hello all,

First post here - I have checked to see if I could find the info I need in another post and couldn’t find it so hope I’m not duplicating.

I’m an artist who hand-cuts MDF (between 8-12mm thickness) to make small art pieces (I also do larger pieces with a jigsaw). (You can see some of my smaller wood stuff here)

Whilst I love hand-cutting on my scroll-saw, I’ve recently received some commissions for multiple repeats of products that will simply be too time consuming to make on the scroll saw so I wanted to investigate whether it is worth me investing in a laser cutter.

Here are my total newbie questions:

  1. Is laser cutting a good solution for cutting small MDF pieces (average around 8-20cm)
  2. How long does it take to cut a small piece of around 15 x 5 cm?
  3. What would be a model you’d recommend for this? (Size is important as my studio is tiny. For info I work off an imac and use Adboe CC)
  4. If it isn’t worth me purchasing my own, is it possible to get somebody to cut a bulk of my designs for me?

I think that’s all for now. Any responses would be very much appreciated.

All the best

Steve
www.somethingsidid.com


#2

There are people more experienced than me but my stab at answering:

  1. Standard MDF is not fit for use in laser cutters, although laser-grade MDF is available (as is laser plywood which cuts better and with less residue).

Looking at your website it looks like you paint your pieces? Lasering leaves blackened edges that would either need heavy sanding or painting to cover.

  1. Time will depend on thickness, cut length and laser power, but I’d expect of the order of 1-10 millimetre(s) per second along the cut line. Based on your size needs you’d probably get an A4 size bed so might be able to fit 6 or 8 parts on a bed, though you’d need to keep an eye on it while cutting to deal with it if anything catches fire (wood residue can catch light, but is easily blown out if you do so quickly).

3&4. I’ll defer to others…


#3

Thanks so much Simon. That’s really helpful. I think I may have to either carry on hand cutting or look into changing materials.


#4

Hobarts is a good supplier of laserable materials:
https://hobarts.com/sheet-materials
They have laser MDF:
https://hobarts.com/laser-grade-mdf
I pretty much just use them (no professional connection)