• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Lasercutting foam board

#22
so none of you have concerns about lasercutting foamboard?
i recently found out my hometown has a makerspace with several CNC mills and a 100w CO² lasercutter,
but the guys there don't allow cutting polystyrene(the foam in foamboard) with the lasercutter because of the resulting gas.
could you link me to the resources you used to determine lasercutting foamboard is safe? or did you just trial and error?
if it is harmless i would like to convey that to my local makerspace and sources would be very helpful
 
Last edited:
#24
I have had this pic for years, who knows where I picked it up at.
CO2_Laser_LowPower.jpg

Is the laser vented to the outside or internally (I assume with a filter box)?
If internal, it might not be about toxicity as much as smell.
Smoke (from wood/paper) will be mostly particulates where as acrylic and polystyrene (foamboard) will stink if they don't have carbon filters.
 
#25
Here's a pretty good link (quick google search) again, NOT hazardous gases, but a risk of fire...
http://www.atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials
And yes, I HAVE had FB torch on my laser... (mostly in complex curves... inkscape creates Many (sometimes thousands) of lines to represent a b-spline curve...) if I don't catch those sometimes the laser slows WAY down in those corners and starts a burn.

Do they have an airpump to force air out the nozzle?
 
#26
The lasercutter is a Radium Laser Model 1390 (attached pic below), i think it's an old industrial machine. I can't find documentation online so far.

i have not used it yet, so im not sure on the specific features it has. All i did is read the makerspaces self-compiled material list and talk to members there.

When i researched foamboard and lasercutting i found a lot of makerspaces allow it, although most of their material lists seem to be from experience.

I found a few reports that white foamboard can be problematic because it reflects too much light, has that been an issue for you guys? is black or brown foamboard better?
I have had this pic for years, who knows where I picked it up at.
[PIC]
Is the laser vented to the outside or internally (I assume with a filter box)?
If internal, it might not be about toxicity as much as smell.
Smoke (from wood/paper) will be mostly particulates where as acrylic and polystyrene (foamboard) will stink if they don't have carbon filters.

Here's a pretty good link (quick google search) again, NOT hazardous gases, but a risk of fire...
http://www.atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials

And yes, I HAVE had FB torch on my laser... (mostly in complex curves... inkscape creates Many (sometimes thousands) of lines to represent a b-spline curve...) if I don't catch those sometimes the laser slows WAY down in those corners and starts a burn.

Do they have an airpump to force air out the nozzle?
first off, eager to help as always, thank you!

yes they have a ventilation system leading to a bathroom (you can see the PVC pipe in the left bottom corner), i'm unsure if it is filtered. I'll find out next time i go.

in your first link i cant find polystyrene or foamboard?

the ATX link is pretty damning and says its a big firehazard.

i'm not sure what a FB torch is?
Also dont know about Air at the nozzle, i would assume so but ill find out.



Or more probably they use a polystyrene compatible cutter with adequate vent/filtering.
Well yes im not saying it is impossible or dangerous, the makerspace is saying they dont allow it (with their cutter). im looking for experience and possibly proof i can use :)


i personally found these two sources and think they make a good case for it
http://cdn.dickblick.com/msds/DBH_132020000.pdf
https://www.ulsinc.com/materials/foam-core-board


 
Last edited:
#27
That looks like a pretty amazing bit of kit! Mine is a chepo Chinese laser... :cautious:

I guess what I was saying is I've never seen it on a list of Don't cut for fumes reason. And I concede there is a fire risk (but there is with most things you laser cut... Just the nature of the beast.) I was trying to say I have torched a sheet or two of foamboard in my time.

One thing you might try is just working with them, acknowledge the risk and ask their lead laser guy to help you dial in the power levels. You said it was 100 Watt?... It might be hard to get that laser tube to fire and JUST mark the foamboard... I run mine pretty close to the bottom end when marking.

Also, Set the values low enough so it takes two passes to cut through. First reason is you will see less undercutting of the foam and second it should reduce the fire risk quite a bit.

I think if the guys see how it cuts foamboard (and you show genuine respect for the equipment) they might relax a bit.
 
#28
That looks like a pretty amazing bit of kit! Mine is a chepo Chinese laser... :cautious:

I guess what I was saying is I've never seen it on a list of Don't cut for fumes reason. And I concede there is a fire risk (but there is with most things you laser cut... Just the nature of the beast.) I was trying to say I have torched a sheet or two of foamboard in my time.

One thing you might try is just working with them, acknowledge the risk and ask their lead laser guy to help you dial in the power levels. You said it was 100 Watt?... It might be hard to get that laser tube to fire and JUST mark the foamboard... I run mine pretty close to the bottom end when marking.

Also, Set the values low enough so it takes two passes to cut through. First reason is you will see less undercutting of the foam and second it should reduce the fire risk quite a bit.

I think if the guys see how it cuts foamboard (and you show genuine respect for the equipment) they might relax a bit.
yeah it's quite the monster, i got a bit excited when i saw it :D

i have mailed the lead laser guy and i hope he'll at least let me test it.
I just wanted some ammo/knowledge first before i write my mail. thanks for your input.
If i get to test it ill keep your recommendations in mind
 
Last edited:
#29
I'm thinking of replacing my laser with a spin saw, which is basically a tiny router. Not because of the fumes, just the time it takes me to cut anything out. I realized my cheapo Chinese laser gives me a good basis to start, its software, basic as it is can handle 3 axis control and I'm thinking I can make something with a brushless RC motor to give me fester less "smelly" cuts. it would also mean i can use the water proof papered foam from here.
 
#30
I'm thinking of replacing my laser with a spin saw, which is basically a tiny router. Not because of the fumes, just the time it takes me to cut anything out. I realized my cheapo Chinese laser gives me a good basis to start, its software, basic as it is can handle 3 axis control and I'm thinking I can make something with a brushless RC motor to give me fester less "smelly" cuts. it would also mean i can use the water proof papered foam from here.
I might sound like cpt obvious, but check the 2nd thread of this subforum if you haven’t already
 
#31
I might sound like cpt obvious, but check the 2nd thread of this subforum if you haven’t already
I second that! Do you have a 3D printer to make the parts for a mpcnc?

The problem with the router idea is first you aren’t going to get clean cuts. Second the z height is going to be tricky (for 50% cuts for example.

The needle cutter is really the way to go!!
(If your driving your current setup with a ramps board, that should be fine for the mpcnc. )