Are you having trouble perfecting your laser cutting and engraving? Wood is a natural material and often behaves in unpredictable ways, but laser cutting on wood doesn’t have to remain a mystery. If you’re doing everything right but still getting lousy results, this guide can help!
Read on to learn some handy tips to step up your laser cutting game.
Choose the Best Wood
Carefully selecting the best wood for your project will improve your end result. Different types of woods behave differently when being cut by a laser and it’s important to know the differences.
For instance, you’ll get a better cut quality if you choose a non-porous wood for 3D laser cuttings. Try wood like maple, cherry, birch, and select white pine for these types of projects.
For laser etching, choosing a non-porous wood is not as critical, but take a close look at the grain structure and orient your wood in a way that will respond well to the etching.
It’s also important to look out for knots. Knots don’t behave the same way as the rest of your wood will when being cut. They can often have open gaps and a denser core, which will lead to inconsistency in your end product.
Plywood is a different beast all together. It is a manmade wood and is comprised of wood veneer and glue. There is often a lot of air pockets between layers which affect engraving. When a laser has air in front of it, the beam will expand and will result in a cut that is not crisp or focused.
Glues and chemicals used in plywood construction also have a tendency to flare up and leave burn marks on your finished product. Go here to learn more about these types of differences.
Clean Your Machine Regularly
Have you noticed slower performance in your laser machine? It might be time to give it a thorough cleaning. A laser cutting machine is a precise piece of machinery that requires regular maintenance. Pay close attention to the optics as this is where the business happens.
Wood is notorious for creating dust and small particles, so thoroughly clean all moving parts. Check your vacuum lines for any clogs and make sure the ports are clear. Follow your user manual for routine cleaning steps.
Don’t Skip the Test Run
One way to ensure your product comes out exactly how you designed it is to do a test run. Even if you’re using presets, you never know how a final product will look until you see it.
Find a scrap piece of the same material you will be cutting for your test run. There are always variations in materials, especially wood, so using a piece from the same lot is ideal.
Become a Laser Cutting and Engraving Pro
Like anything, laser cutting and engraving takes practice. But these tips will surely help you improve your laser cutting game and get you one step closer to perfection! A good material cut on a clean machine will result in a good, finished product.
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