Laser Cutting for Beginners
What is a Laser Cutter ?
A laser cutter is a creative tool that uses a very focused beam of laser light to cut through or engrave onto materials. The high power beam of light is focused to a very fine point, thinner than a human hair, allowing very accurate cutting and engraving to be achieved. Laser cutters are considered a CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) machine and rely heavily on their control systems and software to operate correctly.
What do I need to start Laser Cutting ?
Generally you will need the following items:
A Laser Cutting Machine
Emblaser machines come with everything need to start laser cutting & engraving.
Laser Cutting Software
All Emblaser machines include a fully licensed copy of LightBurn, the most powerful and intuitive laser cutting & engraving software on the market.
Materials to Cut and Engrave
With will need materials to cut and engrave.
Darkly Labs offer a range of ‘ECM’ or ‘Emblaser Cutting Materials’ which are safe for laser cutting and for use with the Emblaser range.
Design files instruct your laser machine on what it needs to do.
Easily create your designs in the LightBurn software or can get inspiration from our free projects.
How do I use a laser cutter ?
To use a laser cutter you need a design file and material to cut or engrave.
A design file can be as simple as a downloaded image or as complex as a design you have created using design software.
Emblaser laser cutters work with many file formats including images (jpg, png, bmp etc) to vector files from design software such as (pdf, ai etc) all the way to CAD design files such as (dxf, dwg etc).
What about safety?
There are several important considerations before deciding on a laser cutting machine. Check the topics listed below:
What laser 'class’ is the machine?
Laser cutters receive a ‘Class’ rating depending on their power rating and safety features.
Class I is the safest laser and can be used without the need for protective eyewear and PPE. Other classes of machine may pose safety risks that need to be carefully addressed.
Is my material safe to laser?
Not all materials a safe to laser cut or engrave. It’s important to know what the material is you are planning to use.
Some materials are dangerous when laser cut.
For instance, any material containing Chlorine produces extremely toxic fumes.
Emblaser 2 & Core Supported Materials
|SUPPLIER||CATAGORY||MATERIAL||PART NUMBER||CUT (mm)||ENGRAVE||COMMENTS|
|Fabric||Felt (Natural)||6||N||All colors except white.|
|Fabric||Felt (Adhesive Backed)||1||N|
|Leather||Leather (Vegetable Tanned - Brown)||3||Y||Treatment & color dependant. Air-Assist recommended.|
|Metal||Stainless Steel||-||Y*||*Engraving possible with coating (see Spectrumark)|
|Paper / Card||Corrugated Cardboard||6||Y|
|Paper / Card||Pasteboard||2.6||Y|
|Paper / Card||Card (350gsm)||1.25||Y|
|Plastic||Acrylic (Green, Red, Yellow,Black)||3||Y|
|Plastic||Acrylic (Transparent / White)||-||Y*||*Engraving possible with coating.|
|Plastic||Polypropylene (Black, Red, Yellow, Green)||1||Y||Air-Assist required.|
|Wood||MDF||3.0*||Y||*Cutting dependant on composition and moisture content.|
|Darkly Labs ECM Range|
|Plastic||Laser Contact Film (Blue)||DL-ECM-CFBLU||0.2||N||**Only ECM range safe for laser cutting.|
|Plastic||Laser Contact Film (Yellow)||DL-ECM-CFYELL||0.2||N||**Only ECM range safe for laser cutting.|
|Plastic||Laser Contact Film (White)||DL-ECM-CFWH||0.2||N||**Only ECM range safe for laser cutting.|
|Plastic||Laser Contact Film (Black)||DL-ECM-CFBLK||0.2||N||**Only ECM range safe for laser cutting.|
|Plastic||Laser Contact Film (Red)||DL-ECM-CFRED||0.2||N||**Only ECM range safe for laser cutting.|
|Plastic||Laser Contact Film (Light Blue)||DL-ECM-CFLTBLU||0.2||N||**Only ECM range safe for laser cutting.|
|Wood||Plywood (Poplar-Laser)||DL-WPP30, DL-WPP60||6||Y|
|Wood||Plywood (Eucalypt-Laser)||DL-WEP10, DL-WEP25||2.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Matte Black - Brass)||TROPHYFLEX LZ417015||0.7||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Br. Copper - Black)||TROPHYFLEX LZ894-015||0.7||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Br. Silver - Black)||LASERLIGHTS S63-1224||0.3||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Br. Gold - Black)||FLEXIBRASS 602-734||0.7||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Br. Gold - Black)||LASERMAX METALS LM922-734||1.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Br. Steel - Black)||METALGRAPH PLUS MP922-314||1.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Natural Teak - Brown)||THE NATURAL TN922-178||1.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (White - Black)||LASERMAX LM922-204||1.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Red - White)||LASERMARK 922-602||1.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Blue - White)||TEXTURES 822-503||-||N|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Desert Sand - Black)||TEXTURES 822-854||1.5||Y|
|Plastic||Ply-Acrylic (Mattle - Br. Aluminium)||(Reverse Lasermak 922-361||1.5||N|
|Plastic||Acrylic Red - Cast Sand Texture||ColorHues CH341-631||2.8||Y|
|Wood||Plywood (Red Alder)||RW1224125ALD||3.2||Y|
|Wood||Plywood (Colorshop Woods Range)||All||3||Y|
List of materials tested and supported on the Emblaser 2 & Core.
How are fumes produced by the laser cutting process handled?
Laser cutting produces fumes that must he safely handled.
The Emblaser2 has an inbuilt exhaust fan and exhaust hose. A dedicated fume filter is also available.
What additional safety features are available with the machine?
Laser machines can use include safety features to prevent injury to the user. The most common are interlocks that prevent the use from accidentally interacting with the laser beam.
The Emblaser2 includes lid interlocks that turn off the laser when the lid is opened. It’s also made from a fire rated enclosure and includes a material ignition alert system . They also ship with a fire blanket in the event of a mishap.
What can I do with my laser cutter?
Your Emblaser machine will allow you to create virtually anything. To help you get you started, Darkly Labs offers a variety of projects guides. The guides available on the Darkly Labs site range in difficulty and complexity to ensure all skill levels are catered for.
For Classroom use, the main focus is the overall safety of students and teachers whilst using any of the Emblaser, hence each of the guides you see below have been rigorously trialed to ensure that they are easily repeated and safe to follow.