Acrylic Laser Cutter: The Basics You Need To Know

Updated On

As a hobbyist or professional, owning an acrylic laser cutter is a step closer to achieving your laser-cutting goals. This is because you’ll be guaranteed accurate cuttings, and tell me what could be greater than that.

Unlike other laser cutting machines, for instance, laser cutters for metals, this specific acrylic laser cutter solely does the job of engraving or etching designs on acrylic materials.

What is Acrylic?

Acrylic, often referred to as the wonder plastic, is a versatile and durable material initially used during World War II for airplane windows and canopies. Over the years, acrylic has been utilized in numerous applications across various industries because of its outstanding properties. 

Its strength-to-weight ratio, versatility, and weather resistance make it a popular choice for many uses today.

Acrylic is significantly more impact-resistant than standard glass, boasting approximately 10 times the impact resistance. This durability, combined with its lightweight nature, makes acrylic ideal for products that require both strength and ease of handling. 

Acrylic, a type of plastic known for its clarity and versatility, is commonly used in various applications such as signage, display cases, and decorative items.

It’s used in everything from signage, aquariums, and protective barriers to furniture, medical devices, and even art installations. The material's resilience to harsh weather conditions without degrading also contributes to its widespread use in outdoor applications.

In summary, acrylic’s impressive durability, versatility, and weather resistance have made it an indispensable material in many fields, continuing to prove its worth far beyond its initial military applications.

Key Components of Acrylic Laser Cutter

An acrylic laser cutter has distinctive features that make it stand out, ensuring you maximize its usage and effectiveness. As such, an acrylic laser cutter machine has several key components, each playing a critical role. These components include:

  • Laser Tube

For the laser tube, there is always the option of a diode or a CO2 laser tube. However, we highly recommend a CO2 laser tube because it generates a laser beam that can cut through the materials without any problem. Furthermore, the power of the C02 laser tube is always anywhere between 40W to 150W, sufficient for fast-paced cutting. 

  • Power Supply

The power supply is an essential component of all laser cutter machines. This is because it provides the necessary electrical power to the laser tube. Moreover, it converts the input power to the desired voltage and current required by the laser tube.

  • Cooling System

One thing we have to agree on is that whenever a laser-cutting machine has a high cutting speed, there will be chances of the machine heating up hence requiring cooling down. As a result, an acrylic laser cutter has a water cooler.

It maintains the laser tube at an optimal temperature to prevent overheating and ensure consistent performance. Additionally, a water cooler improves the system by circulating water around the laser tube, effectively dissipating heat and preventing overheating.

  • Laser Head

It contains the focusing lens and mirrors that direct and focus the laser beam onto the acrylic material. What’s even better is that the precision and quality of the lens and mirrors are crucial for accurate cutting. So, with the right laser head, you don’t have to worry about the accuracy of your cutting.

  • Control System

For the control system, we have both the controller board and software. Now, the controller head manages the operation of the laser cutter, including the movement of the laser head and the power output of the laser tube. Plus, it interfaces with the software and interprets design files.

Whereas the software allows you to design and prepare files for cutting. Most importantly, it converts your designs into machine-readable instructions. 

  • Motion Systems

For our acrylic laser cutters, we have the stepper or servo motors and the rails and bearings. The stepper or servo motors work by driving the movement of the laser head along the X, Y, and sometimes Z axes. These motors are controlled by the controller board to follow precise paths.

On the other hand, the rails and bearings work to ensure a smooth and accurate movement of the laser head, giving you accurate cuttings and etching.

  • Work Bed

As natural as with every other laser-cutting machine, a work bed is essential for placing your acrylic materials for cutting. As such, it may have features like a honeycomb structure or adjustable height to accommodate different materials and improve ventilation.

  • Exhaust System

There’s no doubt your laser cutter machine will produce fumes and particles while in use, especially at high speeds. And for this reason, we have installed a fume extractor to remove such fumes and particles. This is crucial for ensuring a safe working environment and ensuring the longevity of the machine.

  • Safety Features

Emergencies are bound to happen provided you are using a machine. So, if and when such emergencies happen, don’t panic. Simply press the emergency stop button located on the machine. It will allow for an immediate shutdown of the machine.

Again, to find your way around this easily, always prioritize reading our user-guide manuals that come along with every machine you acquire from OMTech.

Additionally, we have also installed a safety interlock on the machine for emergency cases. It prevents the laser from operating if safety covers are not properly in place.

Maintenance and Care of Acrylic Laser Cutters

Whether you’re a hobbyist or dealing in laser cutting as a business, you already know that proper maintenance of the machine will always guarantee better performance and lifespan. As such, maintaining and caring for an acrylic laser cutter involves several key practices which include:

  • Regular Cleaning

Cleaning is extensive, however, when you know the right areas to clean on your laser cutting machine it even becomes much simpler.

First, always clean the optics. Regularly clean the laser lens and mirrors to remove any dust, smoke, or debris. Most importantly, use appropriate lens cleaning options and wipes. Avoid touching the lens with bare fingers.

Secondly, do bed cleaning. Clean the cutting bed to remove any residue that can accumulate. Remember, when residues accumulate, they can always affect the quality of your cuts.

Lastly, ensure your exhaust system is free of obstructions. To do so, always clean the filters and check the ductwork or any buildup that could block airflow.

  • Maintain the mechanical parts

You can maintain the mechanical parts of your acrylic laser cutter by simply performing lubrication. Regularly apply lubrication to the moving parts, such as the rails and bearings, to ensure smooth operation. The best way is to ensure you use lubricants we often recommend in the manuals.

Additionally, check the belt tension and adjust them if necessary. Remember, proper tension ensures accurate and consistent cutting.

Lastly, always perform alignment checks. Regularly check and align the laser beam. Misalignment can lead to poor cutting performance and potential damage to the machine.

  • Safety Checks

A machine could appear to be in proper condition, however, it is still advisable that you perform safety checks on it. Regularly test the emergency stop button and any other safety features to ensure they function correctly.

An Excellent Choice for Acrylic Laser Cutter: K40+ CO2 Laser Machine

The OMTech K40+ 40W CO2 laser machine is an excellent machine for cutting and engraving acrylic due to its powerful features and capabilities:

  • Powerful 40W CO2 Laser: The 40W CO2 laser tube delivers a strong laser beam, efficiently cutting through acrylic with high precision.
  • LightBurn Compatibility: Compatible with popular engraving software like LightBurn and LaserGRBL, making design and operation seamless.
  • Enhanced Precision with Honeycomb Bed: The upgraded honeycomb bed reduces glare and reflections, providing enhanced precision and flawless cutting results.
  • Digital Control & Temp LCD: A user-friendly LCD control board with temperature displays keeps you updated on the laser power and cooling water levels.
  • Removable Bottom Plate: The detachable drawer base allows easy collection and disposal of carving waste, ensuring a clean workspace.
  • Water Cooling System: The pre-installed water cooling system, using distilled water, keeps the machine at optimal temperature, ensuring smooth operation.
  • Adjustable Laser Head: The height-adjustable laser head facilitates engraving on thicker acrylic materials up to 3 cm.
  • Built-in Air Assist & Exhaust Fan: Superior smoke extraction with the built-in air assist and exhaust fan system ensures a clean and clear-cutting process.
  • Safety Features: Equipped with built-in ventilation, emergency stop, automatic shutdown, and a flame-retardant viewing window, ensuring safe operation.

These features make the OMTech K40+ 40W CO2 Laser Engraver an ideal choice for precise and efficient acrylic cutting and engraving.

If you are interested in CO2 laser machines for acrylic laser cutters, please click here to learn more and choose the machine according to the power and table size you need. 

Conclusion

Acrylic laser cutters are growing popular by the day in various industries. This is due to their ability to produce high-quality, precise, and customizable cuts and engravings, making them a valuable tool for both hobbyists and professionals. Most importantly, we hope that this article has helped you learn about the essentials that surround acrylic laser cutters.

At OMTech, we have a variety of laser-cutting machines that aim to answer your needs and demands around laser cutting. Furthermore, we have a dedicated team that will always respond to your inquiries, so don’t hesitate to contact us.