A Guide to the Use of Acrylic in Laser Cutting and Engraving

Laser cutters are versatile machines that can be used on a variety of materials, but acrylic is a common choice among today’s makers. In this guide, users will learn about the acrylic types used in laser cutters and engravers.

Extruded Acrylic

This type of acrylic is created by melting resins and filling a die with the liquid. Then, the material is sent through rollers that give it an even finish and width. Extruded acrylic has a more consistent width than cast acrylic does, and it’s easier to bend, heat, and vacuum shape, but it’s also more likely to crack in some cases. It’s made by the sheet, so it’s relatively inexpensive. Extruded acrylic is perfect for uses requiring flat, straight pieces that don’t change color when engraved or cut.

Cast Acrylic

Cast acrylic is formed by being molded between glass sheets with rubber gaskets. Because this type of molding is imprecise, the thickness or tolerance of cast acrylic may vary from one part of a sheet to another. This material is more versatile than extruded acrylic, but it’s costlier as well. Cast acrylic pieces won’t warp when they’re heated, and they’re scratch- and impact-resistant. Engraved pieces turn a frosty white color, which makes cast acrylic a good medium for trophies, plaques, and awards.

Static Prevention

Acrylic acquires a static charge rather quickly, and the static may attract dirt, lint, and dust. This can make pieces look unattractive, and normal cleaning practices can’t prevent the problem. However, silicone lubricant or anti-static spray may prevent pieces from attracting dust, as long as the spray is reapplied every several weeks.

Crazing

Acrylic pieces may sometimes be cracked because of chemical damage or stress. Not only do the cracks make pieces weaker, they can adversely affect the appearance of the piece. Some types of acrylic, like Plexiglas, are craze-resistant. However, the most effective way to prevent crazing is to avoid the use of certain cleaning fluids.

Acrylic is a great medium to use with the cutters and engravers discussed in the boss laser cutter review, but there are considerations to make before beginning a project. By learning about the types, care methods, and challenges of acrylic, makers can ensure a successful outcome for any project.