Laser Cut 1/4 Hardboard

Hello Team,

I was wondering if anybody has had any luck laser cutting hardboard. Specifically 1/4 inch Hardboard. I am trying to make a cake topper for a friend’s wedding and cannot get the laser to cut through the material. I have actually had no luck cutting any material to this point.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I tried a few test files and the integrated Lightburn test run with no luck.

Thank you in advance :hugs:

I have only cut 1/8 inch hardboard with my SainSmart Genmitsu 5.5w laser. I wasn’t able to cut it until I slowed the speed down. Looking at your speed numbers I’m guessing they are in mm/min. On the advise of someone else on this forum I cut my hardboard at 120mm/min so maybe you are a little too fast at 600.

@_Michael thank you for replying. I will try a slower speed. Should I reduce the power too? I am trying to cut without the burn.

Did you run a test cut file or just create a shape? Also do you know what you did for number of passes and z-step?

Sorry for all the questions.

@BrandonB In my testing, the laser will fry anything that thick before it actually cuts through it. If you are to have any luck at all, make sure that you have the setting to drop Z down after each pass turned on. Also, use a G2 lens. Even then, I wouldn’t count on getting good results on 1/4" material. If the project allows, you will be much better off using the router.

If you go manage to get good results with the laser, please post your power and feed settings.

I used 5 passes at 85% power with 0.75mm z step. My laser is not as powerful as the laser beam so you might burn at that power, I don’t know. As far as the shape and test file goes, I think I ran a test but I can’t find it. The project was making little stackable boxes.

Good luck, I have never cut anything that thick with the my laser.

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I’ve had some success cutting through maple and cherry, and more consistent success cutting through baltic birch plywood all 1/4 inch thick. Speed is set at 10mm/sec at 100% power with 30 passes and the G2 lens. But I just came across some ultra thin plywood at 1.5mm thick which I used all the same settings and still had to do 30 passes. Not sure why the inconsistencies but I just keep making passes until it cuts through. If anyone has any insight I’m open to ideas as well.

Hello @Arborister. Did you happen to use the z step or just do 30 passes?

At the time i didn’t use the z step, only 30 passes. But I have tried since and it didn’t seem to really help

So I FINALLY had time to assemble my laser and start messing around with it. It engraves GREAT, but I too was hoping to be able to cut things. I bought some 1/4 (5.2mm) Lauan plywood to see if how long it would take to cut through. I setup multiple examples, running at different speeds, passes etc… At 10 mm/sec it took between 150-175 passes to cut a 1/2 circle. I didn’t do a Z-step, had the dip switch on 5, and of course 100% power. Is it because it’s a differnt wood than baltic birch? Not super familiar with what Lauan wood is. Might try basswood and baltic birch next week, but Lauan is definately a no-go for me. (Unless I screwed up somewhere)

I should also note that I did a series of trials going all the way down to 2 mm/sec with 10 passes and still nothing. Didn’t even make a dark spot on the back side.

@EdwardS If you intend to do a lot of cutting of material that thick, you bought the wrong laser. Diode lasers are not optimal for cutting as you have seen. 175 passes? That’s nuts IMHO. However, if you want to keep trying, you need a proper air assist. The one that comes with the laser beam does not supply enough pressure and is not directed into the cut where it needs to be. Look into air nozzles that surround the laser beam and direct air directly downward into the kerf. Then, get a good air pump.

You will still not have a unit that is good at cutting thick material, but it will be better than you have now. Unless there is some fitment reason, you would be far better off simply putting a 1/16" bit in the router.

I can’t imagine 175 passes gives a consistent, thin kerf.

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I’m not, just wanted to see what the limits of it were (on my own). I mainly will be cutting 3mm birch, which I’m cutting now at 10mm/sec with 8 passes. Probably could get away with 7 but just in case some areas have thicker glue between the layers. I was only seeing if it was possible with a reasonable time frame. I’d rather cut 2 times the 1/8 material and glue them together if it was absolutely necessary to have 1/4 thickness. Thank you for the reply though!!