Types of Acrylic
Before beginning to experiment with acrylic in your laser, it's important to understand the different types of this substrate. There are actually two types of acrylics suitable for use with the laser: cast and extruded.
Cast acrylic sheets are made from a liquid acrylic that is poured into molds that can be set into various shapes and sizes. This is the type of acrylic used for most of the awards you see on the market. Cast acrylic is ideal for engraving because it turns a frosty white color when engraved. Cast acrylic can be cut with a laser, but it will not result in flame-polished edges. This acrylic material is better suited for engraving.
The other type of acrylic is known as extruded acrylic, which is a very popular cutting material. Extruded acrylic is formed through a higher-volume manufacturing technique, so it is typically less expensive than cast, and it reacts very differently with the laser beam. Extruded acrylic will cut cleanly and smoothly and will have a flame-polished edge when laser cut. But when it is engraved, instead of a frosted look you will have a clear engraving.
Laser Cutting Speeds
Cutting acrylic is usually best achieved with relatively slow speed and high power. This cutting process allows the laser beam to melt the edges of the acrylic and essentially produce a flame-polished edge.
Today, there are a several acrylic manufacturers who produce a variety of both cast and extruded acrylics that feature different colors, textures, and patterns. With so much variety, it's no wonder acrylic is a very popular material to laser cut and engrave.
Who are some of the main acrylic suppliers?
You can acquire cast and extruded acrylic from a number of materials suppliers. Here are a few common sources:
Find more materials suppliers in our Industry Links listings.
What types of acrylic projects can you make?
Acrylic is a durable and practical material for laser processing. The variety of colors and textures make this material ideal for all kinds of things:
- Point of purchase signage
- Directional signage
- Cake/cupcake toppers
- Custom awards
- Holiday ornaments
- And much more!