How To Cut Clear Acrylic With Diode Laser: A Guide

How To Cut Clear Acrylic With Diode Laser: Full Guide

Clear acrylic is a popular material used by artisans of all skill levels. It’s versatile enough for a variety of applications. You can make everything from picture frames to jewelry thanks to the unique properties of clear acrylic’s chemical composition.

Investing in laser machines makes it easier for craftspeople to achieve professional results through precise cuts that produce clean edges on acrylic. This comprehensive guide walks you through how to cut clear acrylic with a diode laser.

Before You Begin Cutting Acrylic

Before you start working with acrylic, ventilate your workspace to ensure you don’t suffer the effects of breathing in the fumes produced by using your laser cutter for acrylic. You may also want to purchase a fume extractor to help get rid of the toxic vapors.

You should also clean up the workspace of any obstacles that make the cutting process less safe. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from laser debris and radiation. It’s a good idea to have a fully-charged fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.

Place your laser cutter on a level, stable surface. That helps prevent vibrations or movement that affect your cutting accuracy. Compact units like the 

Have a reliable power source nearby with the proper voltage and current rating. Do not overload the outlet or use extension cords unsuitable for your equipment’s power requirements.

Keep your transparent acrylic material stored in an organized manner, away from moisture, heat sources, and direct sunlight. That keeps it from warping, becoming discolored, or incurring other damage. Learn the ins and outs of how to shut off your laser cutter safely during an emergency or unexpected situation.

Step-By-Step Process of Cutting Acrylic With Diode Laser

Once you set up your workstation and have your acrylic ready, you can start working on your latest cutting project with your chosen fiber lasers.

Step 1: Design and Prepare Your Cut File

Look for software compatible with your plexiglass cutter. Examples often used with laser machines include Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, and CorelDRAW.

From there, you can start building your design or import an existing one. Diode lasers usually work from vector-based files. You’ll need to convert your design if your file isn’t already in a vector format like a scalable vector graphic (SVG) or a drawing exchange format file (DXF).

Figure out your cutting parameters based on the type of acrylic, its thickness, and the capabilities of your laser type. Consider factors like your laser’s cutting speed, power, the number of passes required, and focal length. Review the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines to ensure you use the correct machine settings based on your type of material.

Step 2: Prepare the Acrylic Sheet

Choose acrylic sheet material best suited to your current project. To achieve optimal results, pick acrylic types that don’t have color additives. They should be completely flat and free of any warping or distortion that might affect your cutting accuracy.

Next, clean your acrylic sheets with a mild soap solution and clean cloth to remove dust, dirt, or fingerprints. Rinse the sheets, then let them dry completely to keep water spots or streaks from popping up during laser cutting.

You can add masking tape or masking paper designed for laser cutting to protect acrylic surfaces from scratches. It also helps you produce cleaner edges and keeps the acrylic sheet from moving while cutting.

Step 3: Set up Your Laser Cutter

Turn the power on to allow the laser to warm up based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Look at the laser beam and ensure it aligns properly with the cutting head and focal point. Use the alignment tools provided with the laser to ensure proper alignment and to adjust the beam’s position.

Make sure that laser cutter optics, like the lens and mirrors, are free of dust and debris that might affect the quality and precision of the laser. It’s a good idea to clean them with a lint-free cloth and a mild cleaning solution suited to the laser.

Next, focus the acrylic laser cutter beam before loading your cutting file. Perform a test cut on scrap transparent materials to calibrate your laser engraver correctly. From there, position the laser cutter at your chosen starting point.

Step 4: Place the Acrylic Sheet

Secure your acrylic sheet to the laser’s cutting bed with masking tape to keep the sheet in place during the cutting and engraving process. Leave enough space around the sheet to allow your laser-cutting head to achieve a full range of motion when cutting acrylic sheets.

Step 5: Start Cutting

Use your machine’s software controls to start the acrylic laser-cutting process. Keep a close eye on the laser’s movements to ensure it cuts the acrylic cleanly and accurately.

Adjust as needed to achieve your desired outcome. Pause if there are any issues or if you encounter an unusual situation while cutting. Address the problem before you proceed with laser cutting.

Step 6: Remove and Clean the Acrylic

Let the laser complete the cutting process until you cut your entire pattern into the acrylic sheet. Turn the diode laser cutter off when you finish your work. Check whether the cut edges of your cut acrylic sheet are smooth and free of defects or irregularities.

Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove any residue from the laser-cut acrylic. Finally, apply a finishing treatment like a polishing compound or flame polishing technique to the edges of the finished product.

Use Only the Best Diode Laser for Your Projects

Diode lasers deliver high-quality precision cutting results, allowing you to achieve intricate designs and fine details on acrylic and other materials. They adjust to a wide range of acrylic thicknesses, making them flexible enough for a range of projects.

OMTech lasers use a minimal amount of material during the cutting process. That helps you reduce waste and make optimal use of acrylic sheets. Our diode lasers use non-contact cutting, meaning there’s no physical contact between the laser and the acrylic sheet.

Look through our catalog of laser products to find a machine best suited to your project needs.