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Engraving plastic with laser diodes?

Discussion in 'Laser Cutters' started by damauk, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. damauk

    damauk Well-Known
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    I was wondering if anyone has had any success engraving plastic with a laser diode. I am looking for something that can make custom electrical panel labels from plastic like this: http://www.rowmark.com/laser/Lasermark/lasermark.asp

    I am currently using my CNC Shark Pro Plus at my house for this work and would like something that would be dedicated to this task that I can leave at my place of work.

    I am also wondering if anyone has any success in making edge lit acrylic signs with a laser diode (at least the engraving portion).
     
  2. Mark Carew

    Mark Carew OpenBuilds Team
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    That's a great question damauk , I would like to know if its possible as well.
     
  3. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    from what I have read the colored lasers go through the clear plastics, only infrared will melt it, sometimes.
    my idea is to 'color in' the surface of the plastic with a black sharpy so the laser has something to see.
     
  4. Mark Carew

    Mark Carew OpenBuilds Team
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    good idea David or maybe even a thin coat of dark stain?
     
  5. damauk

    damauk Well-Known
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    I was afraid the clear wouldn't be doable but I thought maybe the engraving plastic would be a possibility, since it is colored. I just haven't been able to find a whole lot of information on laser diodes and their capabilities. I guess I might have to get my hands on a sample and send it to someone that has a laser diode cutter, the only problem is the nearest plastic supplier that I know of is more than 300 miles away.

    I think the paint option might work, I remember seeing someone that used a co2 laser and painted copper clad board to make PCBs. It is possible that the laser diode would only burn the paint and then once it got to the plastic just go straight through.
     
  6. Mark Carew

    Mark Carew OpenBuilds Team
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    That would be the hope, in that it heated up the dark stain/paint (I think paint may be a little thick) while at the same time heating the plastic.
     
  7. Motions

    Motions Veteran
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    You can engrave clear plastic and glass if you paint it black first. Comes out great. A lot of people engrave colored plastic and acrylic very easily with really good results.
    No special paint on the clear, just a can of Krylon or similar.
     
  8. LouSiffer

    LouSiffer Well-Known
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    Most ( not all ) diode pumped lasers are running in the 1064 IR spectrum. If it is a real dense plastic, it may mark, but, it may be a melted mark. As mentioned before, they like to pass through certain objects. CO2 lasers are usually the best for this.
     
  9. Kellerplastics

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    Really nice work on post have good information about engraving plastic with laser diodes
    . You can contact us for custom plastic extrusions.
     
    #9 Kellerplastics, May 25, 2015
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
  10. GrayUK

    GrayUK Openbuilds Team Elder
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    There you go. :thumbsup:

    Looks cool

    Gray
     
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  11. Edgar Stanbury

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  12. Edgar Stanbury

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    Has anyone tried engraving on EVA (Close cell Foam) using diode laser?
     
  13. Rob Taylor

    Rob Taylor Veteran
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    Not yet, but I certainly intend to try once my laser's (405/445nm) up and running. Would make both packaging and costume-making details and greeblies much easier. It should be fine to cut, I'm thinking, but I don't know what combustion products it creates, they might be the kicker.
     
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  14. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    always vent outside. always. melted and burning plastics create very nasty byproducts.
    a motto : "if you can smell it, it is killing you"
     
  15. Rob Taylor

    Rob Taylor Veteran
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    Absolutely, but there's a big difference between "cellulosic smoke and nasty chlorinated VOCs that would likely be caught with a normal respirator" (most things) and, say, "phosgene gas, this can kill you, it's not even worth trying" (Teflon/PTFE and presumably other fluoropolymers that cause "polymer fume fever", if anyone's wondering). It pays to know what you're going into regardless of setup.

    I have plenty of exhaust and filtration stuff from the welding, sanding/grinding, bondo/modelmaking, fiberglass/moldmaking, painting, etc etc I do that I could use for normal byproducts just for testing, but not everything is going to be caught by a NIOSH olive/magenta filter, so I need to research it before even attempting it- which was my main point. And I'm in a basement shop, so I tend to err more on the side of caution when it comes to vapors and gases than most people need to in garages and spare bedrooms with windows and gravity on their side!

    Obviously for actual runs, proper ventilation is the order of the day, but my laser is also- by design- portable, where there won't always be nice permanent exterior extraction rigs set up. So I have to consider these things ahead of time, because sometimes a respirator and a distant fan may be the only option. Mottos are good, but don't always fit into practical application!
     
  16. Anthony Bolgar

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    EVA foam is laser safe. I cut it all the time.
     

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