What laser machine is the best for cutting acrylic?

Acryl is a special polymeric plastic. Other names – plexiglass, PMMA. This material is available in different versions: transparent, mirror, translucent, colored.

Acryl is used to make souvenirs and awards, outdoor advertising structures and POS-materials. Products made of it are often used in decoration of stores, trade and entertainment centers.

High durability and ease of processing make acrylic very popular.

Acrylic sheets are produced using one of two technologies – extrusion and cast. Each method allows to solve certain problems and gives the material certain characteristics. And when processing different types of acrylic (cast or extruded) it is necessary to take into account their peculiarities. This also applies to laser cutting of this material.

If you need to cut wood, use Wattsan cutting machines.

Which plexiglass to choose for laser cutting?

According to experts, the best option for cutting on a laser machine is cast acrylic. Sheets of this material are well processed by the laser, as it has no residual stress. This makes it possible to obtain high quality products. However, the thickness consumption of the sheets is quite high, and it is important to take this into account when making parts for prefabricated products. Cast acrylic is more expensive than extruded one.

Extruded acrylic is less consumed in thickness. But the presence of residual stress in it can provoke cracks when machining on a laser machine or a few days after cutting. This makes this material not very suitable for laser processing.

Features of cutting acrylic with a laser

When cutting with a laser, acrylic releases substances that are harmful to human health. To protect yourself from inhaling such components, it is important to close the machine lid when processing acrylic. It is also necessary to use an exhaust hood to remove the resulting vapors that can ignite.

How to adjust the cutting speed and power?

The speed and power of the machine when cutting acrylic is set according to the power of the laser tube that is installed in the equipment. In most cases, the same parameters as for cutting plywood are used.

It is important to select such parameters so that you can make the cut in one pass. The more passes the laser makes on plexiglas, the lower the quality of the finished product will be.

This is due to the settling of plexiglas vapor on the cutting edges during the second and subsequent passes. Because of this, it becomes rough and bubbles. This is especially noticeable on sheets that vary in thickness from 5-10 mm.

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It is recommended to set power and speed using a sample item. This will help avoid problems when you start cutting the actual product. If the sample test shows that the material cannot be cut through with the first pass, you need to increase the laser power or decrease the speed of the laser head.

What is important to consider when processing acrylic with a laser?

The first rule that helps to get a high quality result is accuracy. The easy processing of plexiglas has a downside – it can be very easily damaged with a laser.

To prevent this from happening, the sheet is securely fastened to the table beforehand. It has to be perfectly still, because even with a microscopic shift, waste is guaranteed.

The second tip of the professionals is to reduce the blowing. To find the right pressure, you can use a simple criterion. First blow on your finger with maximum force and remember the feeling. Then turn on the laser head fan, put your finger under the air jet. And adjust the flow until the feeling is the same. If the airflow is adjusted correctly, the edges of the finished product will be smooth and no murky ripples will appear on them. 

How to engrave acrylic with a laser?

Before engraving begins, it is necessary to remove the film from the plexiglas. To prevent the formation of soot, a thin layer of soap solution is applied to the surface of the acrylic sheet. It should dry. When the engraving is finished, the sheet is wiped down, removing the soap. The result is a product with smooth, mirror-like edges and no soot.

To engrave plexiglas on a laser machine, choose a weak blowing, adjusting the airflow as in the previous example. But if contour engraving is required, blowing is not used at all.

Minimum laser power is set to engrave the contours. Together with the lack of blowing, this allows you to get thin lines on the surface of the acrylic.

For engraving wood, it is better to use Wattsan engravers.

If you work long enough without blowing, it is important to check regularly whether the lens and mirrors are dirty. And wipe them down when needed.

If the soot has appeared.

There are ways to eliminate it. 

  • Acetone. When the engraving is completed, it is used to wipe off the areas where there is residue.  This must be done very carefully and quickly, since acetone can dissolve acrylic. And this leads to the appearance of a whitish coating.
  • Polishing paste. It is applied to the edge in a small amount. And polish the plexiglass, using a soft cloth. Small scratches can also be removed in this way.
  • White Spirit. It’s used to wipe down the edges.

Do not remove soot with spirits. This leads to the formation of small cracks. It is not possible to get rid of them.

Top machines for cutting acrylic: recommendations of professionals. 

When choosing a machine for cutting acrylic, experts recommend paying attention to the equipment of Wattsan brand. The equipment of this manufacturer makes it possible to create high-quality products from plexiglas with minimal time expenditures.

Wattsan 0203 micro

Work area 200 x 300 mm
Tube power 40W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 810 mm * 500 mm * 265 mm
laser cutting engraving machine for wood

The machine with a working area of 200 by 300 mm is suitable for making small items. The equipment can be used for hobby or production of items for sale in small batches. The dimensions of the machine, 810x500x260 mm, allow placing it on a regular desk or working table.

The 40 watt laser tube is designed for 1500 hours of operation. 

Wattsan 0503

Work area 500 x 300 mm
Tube power 60W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1040 mm * 650 mm * 575 mm

The model is designed for mass production of items made of acrylic, wood, plywood, cardboard, paper, rubber, leather, fur and fabric. Using a special thermal paste, you can engrave ceramics, aluminum and some stones.

The front wall of the machine slides out, which allows you to perform through cutting and process materials of unlimited length.

The size of the working area is 500 by 300 mm. 

Wattsan 6040

Work area 600 x 400 mm
Tube power 80-90W
Max engraving speed 500 mm
Dimensions 1165 mm * 765 mm * 600 mm
Mini laser cutting and engraving machine

Medium-format model that can handle non-metallic materials. Through-cutting function is available.

The frame design helps to eliminate vibrations during operation, ensuring high cutting accuracy and a long service life of the equipment.

Application of Fotek inductive sensors, triggered at a distance of 5 mm from an obstacle, prevents collision of portal elements during machine operation.

Wattsan 6090 LT

Work area 900 x 600 mm
Tube power 80-90W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1490 mm * 1030 mm * 670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
laser cutter engraver wattsan

The universal dimensions of the working field (600 by 900 mm) make this machine suitable for processing workpieces of different sizes, including materials of unlimited length.

As in other laser machines of the brand, three-phase step motors and ¼ belt gearboxes are installed in this model, which improves the quality of engraving.

Wattsan 6090 ST

Work area 900 x 600 mm
Tube power 80-90 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1030 mm * 1490 mm * 670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
laser cutter engraver wattsan

The model is designed for processing common materials, except for metal. There is a through cutting function.

It is convenient to perform alignment due to the use of universal laser tube mounts with a measuring scale and an adjusting screw. Such units are used in all models of Wattsan CO2 laser machines.

Wattsan 1290 ST

Work area 1200 x 900 mm
Tube power 100-120W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1790 mm * 1410 mm * 670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
laser engraving machine

This model is very popular with manufacturers. Dimensions of the working area, 1200×900 mm, allow processing both small workpieces and elements of medium and large size, including through cutting.

For expert advice on choosing a laser machine for cutting acrylic, please contact Wattsan.

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