Small Laser or Plasma Recommendations, Please!

thanks for the detailed info. 1/8" max is fine for us since we have our waterjet. I already budgeted for a laser, so will definitely look at the Fablight. Team 368 also made a recommendation but I dont recall which machine as I was planning to follow up later.
A laser, a Datron router, and a CNC sheet metal press is next on my list of big ticket items.


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We have a Boss 100 Watt CO2 laser, and it is physically possible to cut polycarbonate (as in “Hey Coach, why does our laser-cut acrylic look terrible”? “…."ummm, because it’s polycarbonate?”)

Polycarbonate absorbs 10um wavelength really well, so it bubbles and discolors and melts and catches on fire easily.

But if it’s really thin, you don’t care what it looks like, got huge airflow, a fume extractor, and you’re ready with a fire extinguisher …. You CAN technically laser cut it.

I do NOT advise it though.

In my opinion, a small Boss laser would not be big enough for good prototyping. We struggle with ours being too small, and we can fit 39” x 24” (I think?) on the bed.


Presumably you’re referring to a CO2 laser, which radiates at 10.6 um. 1 um is closer to Nd:YAG (1064 nm), which is more versatile than CO2, but also a lot worse in terms of dollars-per-Watt.

CO2 lasers are way up in the LWIR band. Most plastics are going to absorb strongly in LWIR, but what makes polycarb unsuitable is its response to heat (it tends to melt and char, rather than vaporize cleanly), and its gaseous byproducts (some of which are reactive, and unkind to mirrors and lungs).


Yep, typing on an iPad is always a bad idea. Much like cutting polycarb on a CO2 laser…

although we looked at the FabLight, we decided instead for something else. We’re in the process officially of getting a Kern Laser system since I have funding for this. Its a 400W sealed system called the KT400.
It can cut plastic and still cut stainless steel and thin aluminum. For thicker pieces we will just keep using our jet.

A fablight FL4500 with tube capabilities would be…

Thanks for the update Glenn. It should be noted, fiber lasers and CO2 lasers are very different things. Do you plan to run oxygen with your setup?

we might get both as the Fablight doesnt do plastics, as we asked. I’m not sure about the oxygen setup. All I saw were optional packages we could add such as rotary tooling and metal cutting.
Our priority is the CO2 one and if we can get the fiber one also, even better.