Acrylic is a visually captivating material, known for its glossy finish, transparency, optical clarity, and vibrant hues. Owing to its stunning properties, acrylic is employed in a diverse array of products that enjoy high demand. Acrylic is typically available in sheets in the marketplace. That said, to create your desired object, you must cut the appropriate shape or pattern from these sheets. While there are numerous methods for cutting acrylic sheets, laser cutting is the most sought-after option due to its precise and refined results, which enhance the aesthetic appeal of the finished product.Shop Acrylic Sheets
Nonetheless, before attempting to laser cut acrylic, it's essential to acquire adequate knowledge and skills. To assist you in this process, we present a comprehensive guide on laser cutting acrylic.
In This Article
- Can You Laser Cut Acrylic? What Laser Cutter Can Cut Acrylic?
- Types of Acrylic to Laser Cut
- 9 Laser Cutting Acrylic Projects for Your Inspiration
- Best Acrylic Laser Cutter: xTool P2
- FAQs: Learn More About Laser Cutting Acrylic
Can You Laser Cut Acrylic? What Laser Cutter Can Cut Acrylic?
Yes. Laser cutting machines are favored for acrylic cutting due to their ability to deliver precise results in less time. Their versatility allows them to cut and engrave acrylic in various shapes from the sheet, maintaining fine results even at high speeds. To understand the process of acrylic laser cutting, let's first examine how it works.
How Laser Cutting Acrylic Works?
Laser engraving or cutting involves directing powerful laser beams at the material's surface, rapidly raising its temperature. The material transitions from solid to gaseous state depending on the material's boiling point. Acrylic, with a boiling point of only 200°C, directly transforms from solid to gaseous state when its temperature rapidly reaches the boiling point. Laser cutters can efficiently raise acrylic's temperature, causing the surface material to evaporate and leave a cavity or deep mark, known as engraving. Laser machines can also cut acrylic by easily penetrating the sheet with appropriate power and speed, resulting in the desired shape quickly.
Although a laser cutter can indeed cut or engrave acrylic, factors such as the type of laser machine, acrylic type, and acrylic color must be considered. Acrylic laser cutting or engraving depends on the laser's wavelength and color. For example, blue lasers cannot cut blue acrylic, as the blue color reflects the blue laser, preventing absorption and temperature increase. Likewise, clear acrylic cannot be cut using a blue laser, as the beams pass through the material without absorption.
In this case, a suitable laser, such as a CO2 laser cutter, is required. CO2 laser cutters emit laser beams in the infrared region, which can be absorbed by acrylic of all colors. Another crucial factor is the laser machine's power. A laser cutter with sufficient power can easily cut acrylic, ideally in a single pass, as it saves time and produces optimal results.
Can a Diode Laser Cut Acrylic? How to Cut Clear Acrylic with a Diode Laser Cutter?
A diode laser can also cut acrylic; however, it is crucial to understand the limitations related to acrylic colors. Generally, didoe laser cutters can cut some dark oqaque acrylic. Specifically, with a blue-light laser, engraving or cutting blue acrylic is not possible, as the material will not absorb the laser beams due to the matching color. Additionally, most diode lasers are incapable of engraving or cutting clear acrylic. Some users may apply paint or masking tape over the acrylic surface to prevent laser reflection or penetration, but this method is not always practical. Another factor to consider when cutting acrylic using diode lasers is the optical power. The machine must have adequate optical power to cut the acrylic in a single pass. A 15-20W diode laser can typically cut acrylic up to 6-8mm thick in one pass.
Types of Acrylic to Laser Cut
Acrylic can be broadly categorized into two types based on the manufacturing process of their sheets: Cast Acrylic and Extruded Acrylic. Cast acrylic is created by pouring molten acrylic into a mold, which determines the shape, size, and thickness. Extruded acrylic, on the other hand, is produced through mechanical pressing of hot acrylic sheets under rollers. The acrylic is rolled until the desired thickness is achieved. This continuous production process allows for large volumes of acrylic sheets, making extruded acrylic more affordable than cast acrylic.
Both types of acrylic come in sheet form but are manufactured differently. They have the same chemical composition but exhibit varying properties when exposed to laser cutting machines. Therefore, it is advisable to test each type to determine its suitability for laser cutting or engraving, ensuring optimal results.
Acrylic can also be classified based on color, thickness, mirroring, light diffusion, tint, texture, and radiation blockage. This variety allows you to select the most appropriate acrylic for your project.
When choosing acrylic for laser cutting, consider the color and thickness. A CO2 laser cutter can cut acrylic of any color, while a diode laser can only cut some dark opaque acrylic. The thickness of the acrylic is also important. Depending on your laser cutting machine's power, select a suitable thickness. A 20W diode laser can efficiently cut up to 8mm thick acrylic in one pass. CO2 lasers, being more powerful, can cut most commonly available acrylic sheets.
9 Laser Cutting Acrylic Projects for Your Inspiration
There are tons of acrylic laser cutting ideas you can implement using your acrylic laser cutter. Here are just a few ideas for your inspiration.
You can also visit our community for more creative ideas!
1. Laser Cut Acrylic Earrings
Using an acrylic laser cutting machine, you can make distinct, attractive, and fashionable earrings and other jewelry items. You can cut and engrave almost any design on acrylic, and due to its shiny appearance and diffusion and reflection of light, it looks awesome.
There are various designs available for different occasions, such as Christmas, Halloween, National day, and St Patrick’s day. You can also find other stylish and unique designs or create your own. You only need to attach the earring hoops and hooks.
2. Laser Cut Acrylic Signs
Laser cut acrylic signs are in great demand. You might have these signs in offices, buildings, homes, etc. These are used for branding, designing the main sign of the business, symbols, nameplates, etc.
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Depending on the working area of your acrylic laser cutter machine, you can make a wide range of designs and signs. For instance, you can make door signs, LED wall signs, table signs, etc.
3. Laser Cut Acrylic Awards & Trophies
The most common and preferred use of acrylic is in the making of awards. You might have seen shields and awards at different conferences and events. These are usually made from acrylic. The main part of the award is acrylic, and it is cut and engraved using a laser machine.
Photo by Claudio Schwarz Unsplash
These awards have a huge demand in schools, offices, corporate events, businesses, etc. Creating such an award is pretty easy, as you only need to cut and engrave acrylic. You can make the base of the award using acrylic, wood, or any other material.
Pre-made awards are also available. So, you only need to engrave them and write whatever you want.
4. Laser Cut Acrylic Keychains
You can make customized keychains using acrylic sheets. It is one of the most common ideas, and people love to buy such keychains. It will cost you minimal, but the profit margin is excellent.
You can cut the keychains in the desired shape and then engrave the name, logo, photo, date, design, or anything else. There are also pre-made keychains available on the market, and you only need to engrave them.
5. Laser Cut Acrylic Christmas Ornaments
Christmas ornaments are one of the hot-selling items on occasion. These are used for house decoration and Christmas tree decoration. People frequently buy these from online stores.
There are dozens of designs of ornaments available for different occasions, such as Halloween and Christmas. With a laser cutter and some acrylic sheets, you can easily add a personal touch to your home decor on special occasions.
6. Laser Cut Acrylic Wedding Invitation
If you are looking for a distinct wedding invitation, then the laser cut acrylic invitation could be the right choice. Acrylic wedding invitations look more than appealing. They are personalized and look classy. All you need to do is cut the invitation in the desired shape and then engrave it.
Photo by InvitationSuite on Etsy
To make it more appealing, you can use foil writing on transparent acrylic. It looks more than exceptional. The best thing about it is that the person who will order the invitation will definitely order several pieces for distribution. So, you can make excellent profit from this idea.
7. Laser Cut Acrylic LED Lamp
An LED lamp is a beautiful item that everyone would love to have in their home. You can make eye-catching lamps using acrylic. The LED blanks are available on the market, and you only need to cut and engrave acrylic. Then, finally, place the acrylic over the lamp, which make it look mesmerizing, and people buy it for their bedrooms, living room, and gifting.
The design of the lamp depends on your creativity. You can make almost any design. Customized designs can be made for couples and families. You can write names on the acrylic sheet. Special LED lamps can be made for special events, such as Christmas, Halloween, weddings, and housewarming parties.
8. Laser Cutting Acrylic Toys
Acrylic can also be used to make toys for kids. You can cut puzzles or DIY toys using acrylic sheets. It is a great activity for children to join all the parts of the puzzle or toy. You can make a plane, jigsaw puzzle, cartoon character, and similar things. There are various options to make.
Photo by InvitationSuite on Etsy
These toys are not only for kids but they can also be used as décor items. You can keep it in your house or office.
9. Laser Cutting Acrylic Cake Toppers
Acrylic cake toppers do not need an introduction. These are the must-haves on every birthday or celebration. You can make beautiful acrylic cake toppers using the sheets. It is one of the simplest acrylic laser cutting ideas that beginners can also try. If you want to sell these like hotcakes, make sure to introduce some new designs that are unique and appealing.
Best Acrylic Laser Cutter: xTool P2
xTool P2 CO2 laser cutter is a powerful CO2 laser cutter that is more than ideal for acrylic cutting. Whether it be clear acrylic or any other color, you will get perfect results in no time. Due to its compact size, you can use it for your small business or hobby, and it could be the right choice for home and small shop usage.
The optical power of the laser machine is 55W. It can cut acrylic up to 20mm thick in only one pass, which is more than incredible. Moreover, the speed can reach up to 30mm/s for cutting 3mm acrylic in one pass. With that being said, it does the job at lightning speed and ensures impeccable results every time. Not only acrylic, but you can also cut and engrave a wide range of materials, including wood, rubber, ceramics, metal, stone, paper, cardboard, leather, glass, plywood, etc.
The machine is quite smart. There are two 16MP smart cameras that give you a detailed live preview of the working area. Due to the panoramic camera, you get the whole picture in only a few seconds. Furthermore, you can process multiple objects at a time to finish the task in minimal time. With the help of these smart cameras, the design can easily be placed on the object.
The best thing about the machine is that it can create a 3D model of the object and help in engraving curved surface. It automatically adjusts the focus according to the object. You won’t find this extraordinary feature in other desktop machines.
Additionally, the machine offers an automatic passthrough, which can engrave objects up to 96 inches long. Thus, cutting long acrylic sheets won’t be a problem. You can also attach the 4-in-1 rotary machine to engrave 90% of the cylindrical and spherical objects.
xTool P2 is equipped with some commendable safety features that almost eliminate accidents and ensure the safety of the user. When you cut acrylic or any other material, the laser machines produce smoke and debris. xTool P2 is completely enclosed, so it won’t pollute the environment. Secondly, the exhaust fan removes the smoke from the machine automatically. Thus, cutting the materials becomes a lot easier. Moreover, you can also attach the smoke purifier to remove the contaminants from the exhaust air.
On top of that, it has an emergency button in case of any emergency. The light-filtering lid helps you keep an eye on the object without risking your eyesight. You can use the Fire Safety kit to automatically extinguish the fire or flame. Surprisingly, it gives some warnings if there is any problem with the machine.
xTool P2 is a complete package that can engrave and cut acrylic like a hot knife on butter. It is compatible with a wide range of materials and ensures ideal performance. It is compact, powerful, efficient, and versatile. The extraordinary features take your laser engraving business to the next level.
FAQs: Learn More About Laser Cutting Acrylic
Q1. How Thick of Acrylic Can a Laser Cutter Cut?
The optical power of the laser cutter determines how thick of an acrylic sheet it can cut. A diode laser with 40W optical power like xTool D1 Pro can cut up to 15mm thick black acrylic in one pass. This is the highest optical power available for desktop diode laser cutting machines as of now.
CO2 laser cutting machines are more suitable for acrylic laser cutting. They have higher optical power and can cut through thicker acrylic sheets in one pass and can cut acylic of any color. For example, xTool P2 can cut up to 20 mm thick acrylic in only one pass.
Q2. Is Acrylic Easy to Laser Cut？
Yes, acrylic is relatively easy to laser cut, especially when using a CO2 laser cutter. It produces clean, precise cuts and engravings with minimal effort. However, it is essential to consider factors such as laser type, acrylic type, color, and thickness to achieve optimal results.
Q3. What Laser Do I Need to Cut Clear Acrylic? How to Laser Cut Clear Acrylic?
To cut clear acrylic, you need a laser that can emit infrared beams that can be absorbed by the transparent material. A CO2 laser cutter, with wavelength of 10,640 nm (infrared light), is a good option for this purpose. A CO2 laser can cut through clear acrylic sheets with a glossy, flame-polished edge without any additional post-processing. A diode laser, on the other hand, will not work for clear acrylic because its light will travel through it without altering it.
Q4. Do You Laser Cut Acrylic with or without Film on?
Acrylic sheets usually come with two types of protective film: plastic masking and paper masking. It is generally recommended to remove the plastic film from both sides of the acrylic before laser cutting, as it can produce fumes and cause edge deformation during the process. However, it is ok to leave the paper masking on during laser cutting, as it doesn't cause issues associated with plastic films.
Q5. How Do You Prevent Burn Marks When Laser Cutting Acrylic?
To prevent burn marks when laser cutting acrylic, use the correct laser settings (power, speed, and pass), and maintain the focus of the laser beam. Keeping the paper protective film on the acrylic may also help reduce burn marks. Additionally, using air assist, which blows air over the cutting area, can help minimize heat buildup and remove debris from the cut, reducing the risk of burn marks.
Q6. What Setting Do You Use to Laser Cut Acrylic?
The ideal settings for laser cutting acrylic depend on your specific laser cutter model, the thickness of the acrylic, and the desired cutting speed. Always refer to your laser cutter's manual for recommended settings, and perform test cuts to determine the optimal combination for your project.
Q7. Is All Acrylic Ok to Laser Cut?
Most acrylics are suitable for laser cutting, but some factors, such as color and type, can affect the process. For example, blue lasers cannot cut blue or clear acrylic. It is crucial to test the specific acrylic you plan to use, ensuring it is compatible with your laser cutter and produces the desired results.
Q8. How Do You Clean Acrylic after Laser Cutting/Engraving?
To clean acrylic after laser cutting or engraving, gently remove any protective film, if present, and use a soft cloth or sponge dampened with a mild soap and water solution to wipe the surface. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as they may scratch or damage the acrylic. Rinse with clean water and pat dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Q9. Are Fumes from Laser Cutting Acrylic Toxic?
The fumes from laser cutting acrylic are not lethal but they can be unpleasant and irritating to the lungs. They can also cause headaches, nausea, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. Therefore, it is important to use an appropriate exhaust system and ventilation and wear a respirator when laser cutting acrylic. The fumes can also linger on the laser cut acrylic for some time after cutting, so it is advisable to place the finished project in a well-ventilated area.
Q10. Where to Buy Acrylic Sheets
At xTool, we offer a variety of acrylic sheets for various laser cutter projects. Whether you need colored, transparent, glitter, frosted, or mirror acrylic, we have it all. Browse our selection and find the perfect match for your project needs.