Wood is one of the most popular, widespread, accessible and environmentally friendly resources on earth. It can be found in all spheres of human activity: household, industry, construction, etc. There are many technologies and methods for its processing, each of which differs in terms of technology, cost and quality of manufactured products. One of the most accurate processing, guaranteeing high quality characteristics of the finished product, is cutting wood on a laser machine.

laser cutting machine for wood

Principle of operation of a wood laser cutter

Cutting wood on a laser machine is a technology of fine processing of material with the help of a point directed light beam. The laser beam acts on the area without contact, i.e. without applying pressure. The laser spot heats up the area, which destroys the wood’s fibres.

There’re two methods of treatment:

  • Laser cutting wood: material is burned through completely. This method is employed for accurate cutting of wooden blanks.
  • Laser engraving wood: only the top layer is burnt. This allows you to apply drawings, inscriptions on the surface and give it relief due to the difference in thickness.

There are three large groups of lasers: diode lasers, fibre lasers and CO2 gas lasers. The last type of device is one of the most popular and used. Let’s understand how it works.

Where does the laser come from? For this purpose, it is necessary to understand what a wood laser machine consists of. There are four main elements in its construction:

  • Control board. A device that receives and processes information from the user and all electronic components of the machine. It forms control actions based on the set programme.
  • Laser tube ignition unit. Generates the initial powerful pulse necessary for pumping the active gas medium (CO2).
  • Laser tube. Sealed, consists of a mixture of gases – CO2, nitrogen, helium. It’s used to create a high-voltage laser beam.
  • Mirror focusing system. It is made up of mirrors and lenses that allow the energy flow to be focused into a precise area that is the necessary size.

Wood laser cutters work as follows: the nitrogen molecules in the gas mixture begin to be stimulated by the electric current. A voltage of about 10–20 kW is supplied for this purpose. After being stimulated, the molecules go into a high-energy state. Convergent laser radiation is created simultaneously by the release of photons. The entire release of photons resulting from the interaction of helium and nitrogen is the last stage. The optical system then focuses the beam.

Furthermore to the main generating unit, there is also a positioning system. It represents two drives and drivers, which are controlled by the control board. They are the ones that ensure that the engraving or piercing is carried out at the specified coordinates.

In addition, to ensure reliable, long-lasting and comfortable operation, the machines require: cooling, ventilation circuit, lighting, protective covers, etc.

Wattsan machines

Wattsan is a global manufacturer of CNC machines. A separate large direction of the brand is the manufacture of laser wood-cutting machines. The line of equipment offers customers a huge choice: from basic models for hobby and home to powerful units that are suitable for mass production.

Work area 900 x 600 mm
Tube power 80-90 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1490x1030x670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
laser cutter engraver wattsan

Of the main operational advantages of Wattsan products should be emphasised:

  • Robust foundation. All models have a frame construction, which protects the equipment from external negative factors. The stable frame significantly reduces vibration, which extends the life of all components and allows it to maintain accuracy for a long time, without alignment.
  • Large frame thickness of 2.7 mm or more. In addition, the metal is heat-treated. This means that there is no fear of metal deformation during intensive use.
  • Precise positioning system. An important engineering decision was the replacement of two-phase drives with three-phase drives. This made the travelling step smaller and the stroke smoother. Also, belt drives have a positive effect, which not only additionally crush the pitch, but also extend the service life of the motor.
  • Speed characteristics. The strong beam and quick positioning movement ensure that the operations will be performed at a high intensity. The front wall of long workpieces can be removed. This makes it possible to roll the workpiece through the laser wood cutting apparatus.
  • Clean cut. The nozzle completely eliminates oxidation or burning of the heated surface. The element’s shortened design makes this feasible.
  • High operating life. All technical solutions and hardware units are designed for a long period of use. For this purpose, the company’s engineers carefully approach electronic and mechanical components. For example, instead of silicone tubes for air, polyurethane tubes are used. These are more resistant to pressure and have greater tensile strength. The laser tube for basic models is designed for 1500 hours. For professional units, this figure is 6000 hours.

Like any technical devices, wood laser cutters need to be maintained and repaired. Therefore, in addition to reliability and performance, the plus point of operating the units is ease of use during a long service life. This applies to all stages in the operation of the equipment:

  • Maintenance and repair. The technical components are conveniently located. They are easily and quickly accessible. This makes it as easy as possible to replace consumables on your own.
  • Adjustment. The laser tube has special fasteners, with the help of which it is possible to carry out quick alignment, making downtime minimal.
  • Engraving and cutting. Every step is designed to keep the operator as safe as possible. Because of the anodised surfaces, there is no beam reflection. If a batch of workpieces is crooked, no readjustment is required. The autofocus head helps to compensate for the curvature.

The entire range of Wattsan wood laser cutters is popular. Therefore, spare components and parts for them are available. This makes maintenance and repair of laser wood cutting machines easy and fast, even in the current political situation. In addition, if necessary, service assistance in Russia is provided by engineers who are the company’s certified experts.

Which woods can be processed?

Wood laser cutters can make quite a few different items: toys, souvenirs, frames, furniture, chandeliers and much more. But which material to choose as a workpiece?

The following kinds of wood can be processed by laser wood cutting machines:

  • Softwood. Its processing takes the least amount of time and low laser power because of the material softness. This includes balsa, poplar, corkwood, etc. They have a lighter shade, so the engraving is less contrasting.
  • Hardwood. Processing requires a more powerful laser and time expenditure. Bright representatives of the group include oak and cherry. Engraving on them has a brighter contrast.
  • Veneer. Array of natural wood due to the homogeneous structure is well suited for engraving.
  • Plywood. This is a composite blank, which consists of three layers glued together. Selecting specific plywood kinds for laser processing is essential. If there is no such thing, then it’s imperative to use a light-coloured glue.
  • MDF, Particleboard. Smooth structure with a high degree of homogeneity makes laser cutting wood fast and easy. There is a small peculiarity that needs to be taken into account: after cutting, the edges turn out dark.

There is no coniferous wood on the list. This does not mean that this type of wood cannot be processed. This is possible, but it takes time to find optimum settings. And it doesn’t mean that the settings made for one will work effectively for another. This is due to the heterogeneous and complex structure of woods such as larch and spruce. That’s why it is better to avoid these types of wood, especially if you are a beginner.

Cool laser cutting wood ideas

With a laser wood cutting machine, you may make a range of objects: from simple trinkets to unusual interior items. If you are just beginning to master this direction and don’t know what to make, here are some amazing ideas.

Engraving wooden key chains. It’s very simple in execution. It takes a minimum of materials and working space. Finished products can be sold or given to friends and family.

Heat trivets. They’re also very simple in implementation, and cool in the final version. You can make it for yourself or give it as a gift to someone on holiday.

Mobile phone cases. Blanks for a particular model of phones can be ordered on the Internet. They are sold without a picture and inscriptions. All you have to do is choose your favourite image or words and engrave them on wood using a laser machine. A great idea for business!

cutting plywood on cnc laser machine

Toys. Here you have a wide choice of products to make. For example, you can make simple flat souvenirs, Christmas tree toys, parts of various constructors, engaging puzzles, etc.

Woodburning. Due to the possibility to adjust the laser strength, a clear image with different shades can be obtained. This allows you to make wooden paintings of landscapes, family pictures and portraits of people. Also, you can create a variety of plaques, signs, etc.

Creating plaques and signs. Burnout on a flat wooden surface carries a limitless number of different designs. You can create a cool plaque with the address of your house, phone number of the owner. This idea is easy to scale into a business project. Many companies will be happy to complement their interior with an unusual sign board made of wood.

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Creating unique accessories and souvenirs. Here everything depends on your imagination. For practical use, you can create a wooden package for your favourite drink cans. Such a gift can be given to a friend. For lovers of reading, you can make stylised bookmarks. On them you can place any illustrations or inscriptions. Such bookmarks will last for a very long time.

Business card production. A wooden card with contact details is a great way to present so that you are remembered. In addition, if you are starting a business with woodworking, a wooden business card will be the best advertisement. Also, in this style you can design wedding invitations that your guests can keep as a memento of the important event.


plywood on cnc cutter machine

Within the framework of one article, it is difficult to disclose such a deep topic as laser wood cutting machines. There are a lot of details here that are better left to your own experience. However, in conclusion, we will answer the most common questions that beginners may have.

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What are the drawbacks of laser cutting wood?

When working with wood, much will depend on the material. Plywood from different manufacturers will be processed differently. It is important to remember that the quality of the engraving is greatly influenced by the thickness, uniformity, stiffness and shade of the wood.

As wood is a combustible material, it is important to choose the right settings. Otherwise, the wood will simply burn under the laser.

How thick can wood be cut with a wood laser cutter?

The thicker the wood, the stronger the beam required. For example, if you need to burn a 10 mm board, the output should be at least 100 W. Increasing the thickness of the board for the same power will increase the time needed to process the product. This leads to an increase in energy consumption. In addition, soot marks can form at the processing points.

For thicker workpieces, it is often more economical and practical to use CNC milling machines.

What is the easiest type of wood to cut with a laser wood cutting machine?

In laser cutting wood, the homogeneity and softness of the material plays a major role. Therefore, soft woods as well as derived workpieces such as MDF and chipboard are perfect.

What is the price of a laser wood cutting machine?

Work area 200 x 300 mm
Tube power 40 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 810x500x265 mm
laser cutting engraving machine for wood

The price of a particular model of a wood laser cutter depends on its parameters: overall parameters, the maximum size of the workpiece to be processed, power characteristics of the beam, cutting and engraving speed, positioning accuracy and a number of other properties. Desktop machines for home and small-scale production with a working field of 200×300 mm.

The cost of the laser wood cutting machines with a working area of 2×3 m and more for mass production.

Is it possible to cut plywood with a wood laser cutter?

Yes, it is. When choosing plywood, you should consider the following characteristics:

  • Thickness. The optimum value is between 3 and 12 mm.
  • Type of glue. It is better to avoid plywood glued with bakelite or phenolic glue. It is better to use blanks glued with urea resin.
  • Homogeneity of the workpiece. Poor quality material may have a lot of knots and resin inclusions, which makes it difficult to work with.

In conclusion, we can say that laser cutting wood is a modern, technological and effective way of giving wooden workpieces the desired shape. It is very precise and productive. The choice of production areas is limitless. It is possible to produce both decorative and functional objects. In addition, the technology has a number of positive characteristics:

  • Near-silent operation;
  • No additional fixtures needed;
  • Clean and accurate cut;
  • Precise positioning;
  • Different materials can be processed.

A huge range of models in different price categories allows you to find the best option to realise your goals. Wattsan laser wood cutting machines are ready-to-use models, in which everything has been thought through. They are as safe as possible, so they can be used at home. All of this makes laser cutting wood the perfect hobby and a great business idea!

be adjusted when working on wood or other materials. However, when replacing the tube, you often have to change the high voltage unit, too. Usually machines used CO2 emitter.

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