Laser cutting graphic
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Laser Cutting Speed and Power Chart: Materials and Thickness (CO2, Diode, Fiber)

Laser cutting graphic

Are you looking to optimize your laser-cutting projects for maximum efficiency and quality? You’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, we explore the essential factors that contribute to successful cuts and provide you with actionable tips to improve your performance.

In addition to this guide, be sure to check out our post on how to get the best cut with a plywood laser cutter.

Get ready to unlock the full potential of your laser cutter with a speed chart for every popular material.

Short Summary

  • We’ve got you covered with speed and power suggestions for all popular laser machine materials.

  • It’s important to remember that the below numbers are suggestions; you’ll need to adjust based on your machine and materials.

  • We also run you through how to make a speed and power chart for your own laser machine.

Understanding Laser Cutting: Speed, Power, and Thickness

Laser cutting is an intricate process that requires a delicate balance between speed, power, and material properties. Understanding these key elements and their impact on the laser-cutting process is vital for obtaining optimal results.

We’ll explore how speed affects laser cutting, the role of laser power, and laser cutting thickness influences your settings. By gaining a thorough understanding of these fundamentals, you’ll be well on your way to knowing you have the right laser cutter for your projects so you can achieve maximum efficiency and quality.

And if you use laser cutting and engraving in your business, this guide will be an invaluable resource as you work on your projects.

Speed and Its Impact on Laser Cutting

Cutting speed plays a significant role in laser cutting, as it directly affects the exposure time of the laser on a specific point and, consequently, the depth of the cut. Faster cutting speeds result in deeper cuts and faster project completion times, which are especially important when cutting materials like wood board.

The cutting performance can be maximized by adjusting the laser power and cutting speed. This should be done taking into account the type and thickness of the material. When cutting acrylic, for example, low-pressure air assist (0.2 bar) with a large-size nozzle is recommended for optimal results, as gas pressure plays a crucial role in achieving the best outcome.

Power and Its Effect on Laser Cutting

Laser power determines the energy of the laser, influencing the depth and width of the cut, as well as the amount of smoke and charring produced. Different materials require adjustments to the laser power setting and the wattage of the laser to achieve the best results.

When cutting acrylic with a CO2 laser, for example, it is crucial to consider airflow control and fire prevention at the bottom of the material. To ensure the best results, opt for smaller air-blowing or side-blowing on the material surface.

Material Considerations in Laser Cutting

Cardboard laser cut horse

Material properties, such as thermal conductivity and thickness, play a significant role in determining the appropriate laser cutting settings. The choice of assist gas, such as oxygen, for cutting carbon steel can also impact the cutting process.

With the right combination of thickness and speed, you can achieve excellent cuts with maximum efficiency. Cutting too quickly can lead to subpar edge quality, whereas cutting too slowly may cause excessive heat buildup and material deformation. Ensuring the same thickness throughout the cut is crucial for optimal results.

Essential Factors for Determining Optimal Laser Cutting Settings

There are several essential factors to consider when determining the optimal laser cutting settings for a specific material and project. These factors include:

  • Material type and thickness

  • Laser cutter type and wattage

  • Focal length and spot size

  • Assist gas selection

Understanding the impact of each factor on the laser-cutting process allows you to fine-tune your settings for maximum efficiency and quality.

In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these factors in more detail to help you make informed decisions and achieve the best possible results with your laser-cutting projects.

Material Type and Thickness

Wood layers

Material type plays a big role in determining your settings. The denser the material, the slower you’ll need to go with higher power (think steel vs. foam).

Similarly, the thicker the material, the more power you’ll need to break through it, and generally, you’ll want to go slower for thicker pieces.

By accounting for the material type and thickness in your laser cutting settings, you can ensure that your projects are completed with precision and accuracy while minimizing material waste and production time.

Laser Cutter Type and Wattage

The type and wattage of your laser cutter play a crucial role in its cutting capabilities and overall efficiency. Different types of laser cutters, such as CO2 and fiber lasers, are better suited for cutting specific materials, and the wattage of the laser cutter determines its power output and cutting effectiveness.

Adjusting the laser settings according to the type of laser cutter you are using can help you achieve the desired results and optimize the laser cutting process.

Focal Length and Spot Size

Focal length and spot size are essential elements in the laser cutting process, as they influence the speed and power of the laser cutter. Different focal lengths and spot sizes need to be adjusted to get the desired results, as they determine the melting rate of the material and the thickness that can be processed.

By having a smaller spot size, you can achieve a higher energy density, thus enabling you to cut thicker materials.

Assist Gas Selection

Selecting the appropriate assist gas and oxygen pressure for your laser cutting project can significantly improve cutting speed and quality. The type of material being cut, its thickness, and the desired edge quality should all be considered when choosing the right assist gas.

By optimizing the assist gas selection, you can enhance the cutting process and achieve the best possible results for your projects.

Laser Settings Covered in this Article

Ok, let’s get into the reason why you’re here. Below I’ve outlined laser cutter settings for the most common materials and laser types:

  • Tree materials: Wood, MDF, Cardboard, Paper

  • Plastics: Acrylic, PVC

  • Textiles: Leather, Rubber, Cloth, Foam

  • Metals: Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, Aluminum, Brass

Remember, these are merely suggestions for you to start off with. You’ll likely need to adjust and record your own settings based on your machine and materials.

Wood Laser Cutting Chart

There’s a variety of different woods you can use in laser cutting, and factors such as density, moisture content, and resin/sap content can impact the cutting process.

Diode Laser Speed Chart for Wood

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Number of passes
5.5W637
5.5W251
5.5W323
5.5W425
5.5W727
5.5W929
5.6W423
10W (80%)371

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Wood

Power (W)MaterialPercentageThickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)
25Wwood board100%3.04
30Wwood board80%2.54
35Wcedar100%6.410
40Wwood board100%3.08
40Walder100%6.44
40Wpine90%6.45
45Wpoplar100%6.48
50Wpine80%6.45
60Wwood board100%3.012
60Wwood board100%5.08
70Walder40%3.028
70Wwalnut40%6.415
70Wcherry40%6.413
70Wmaple40%6.416
80Wbirch65%6.412
80Wwood board100%318
80Wwood board100%5.010
80Wwood board100%10.06
100Wply85%8.925
100Wbalsa70%3.030
100Wbasswood55%3.025
100Wpoplar80%6.410
100Wmahagony80%6.45
100Wwood board100%322
100Wwood board100%518
100Wwood board100%1010
100Wwood board100%155
130Wwood board100%328
130Wwood board100%522
130Wwood board100%1013
130Wwood board100%158
150Wwood board100%333
150Wwood board100%528
150Wwood board100%1017
150Wwood board100%1513
180Wwood board100%337
180Wwood board100%532
180Wwood board100%1020
180Wwood board100%1515
200Wwood board100%348
200Wwood board100%542
200Wwood board100%1030
200Wwood board100%1522

MDF Laser Cutting Chart

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for MDF

Thickness >3mm5mm10mm15mm18mm
Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
25W3.5
40W73.5
60W128
80W15103.5
100W18135
130W20156.53
150W251895.5
180W28211174
200W352515107

Cardboard & Paper Laser Cutting Settings

Cardboard and Paper are unique in that they don’t require much power to cut, and if you cut them too slow they may burn. Here are a few parameters you can start out with, you’ll notice that the power doesn’t really matter. Try these and then adjust as needed based on your machine and material.

For Cardboard:

  • For CO2 lasers, try setting your speeds between 6 – 25 mm/s
  • For Diode lasers, try setting your speed to around 3 mm/s

For Paper:

  • For CO2 lasers, try setting your speed to 40 mm/s.
  • For Diode lasers, try setting your speed to 10 mm/s

Acrylic Laser Cutting Chart

Acrylic shapes

For acrylic laser cutting, low-pressure compressed air assist and specific power settings are crucial for optimal results.

Diode Laser Speed Chart for Acrylic

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Number of passes
5W254
5.5W4311
5.6W424
5.6W426
5.6W4310
5.5W523

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Acrylic

Thickness3mm5mm8mm1cm15mm20mm25mm30mm35mm40mm
Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
25W52
40W1052
60W157320.80.3
80W208531.50.50.2
100W25106420.70.3
130W301285310.40.3
150W351510741.50.80.50.1
180W40181210621.20.80.30.1
200W452515138431.50.70.3

PVC Laser Cutting Chart

Important note: laser cutting PVC releases hydrogen chloride gas. This gas is toxic to you and can cause your machine to rust. If you’re going to cut PVC, make sure your area is well ventilated!

Diode Laser Speed Chart for PVC

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Number of passes
5.5W4311
5.5W5315
5.5W348
5.5W1501
10W1121

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for PVC

Thickness ->2mm3mm4mm
Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
25W1310
40W322720
60W453830
80W584840
100W807065
130W786863
150W887873
180W988880
200W11810898

Leather Laser Cutting Chart

Laser cut leather

Diode Laser Speed Chart for Leather

Power (W)Power PercentageThickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Number of Passes
5W100%0.5171
5.5W100%0.7101
5.6W100%3.856
10W100%0.5361
10W40%0.3171
10W80%0.3331

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Leather

Speed (mm/s)
25W5
40W12
60W17
80W20
100W25
130W35
150W40
180W45
200W55

Rubber Laser Cutting Chart

Diode Laser Speed Chart for Rubber

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Number of passes
5W0.5171
5W1.066
10W0.5361

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Rubber

Thickness ->4mm6mm
Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
25W41
40W138
60W2010
80W2715
100W3318
130W3823
150W4328
180W4833
200W5843

Cloth Laser Cutting Chart

Diode Laser Speed Chart for Cloth

Power (W)Power PercentageThickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)
5.5W100%138
5.6W100%38
10W60%417
10W80%417
10W100%433

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Cloth

Speed (mm/s)
25W20
40W38
60W58
80W98
100W195
130W295
150W395
180W495
200W590

Foam Laser Cutting Chart

Diode Laser Speed Chart for Foam

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Gas Pressure (bar)
2.8W13630.7
10W316.380.3

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Foam

Power (W)Power percentageThickness (mmSpeed (mm/s)Gass pressure (bar)
25W100%4451
40W100%5330.3
60W100%5450.3
65W60%6250.3
100W100%254961
100W55%6250.3
150W40%6250.3

Stainless Steel Laser Cutting Chart

Laser cut steel

Below we’ve outlined the speed and power charts for the most popular types of metals that can be laser cut or engraved. To find the best laser engravers for metal, see our comprehensive guide here.

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Stainless Steel

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Gas Pressure (bar)
150W2815
180W21515
180W3718
200W24015
200W32518

Fiber Laser Speed Chart for Stainless Steel

500W1kW1.5kW2kW3kW4kW6kW8kW10kW12kW
Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
117535839245054260083396711251292
262158175192283367458600792967
312366788133183325417542650
421336383108217292358450
51117366779167242308358
614275058125183225300
814293875117167217
1012173667117167
12811254067117
14812254067
208112540
2591125
308911
4089

Carbon Steel Laser Cutting Chart

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Carbon Steel

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Gas Pressure (bar)
150W2815
180W21515
180W3718
200W24015
200W32518

Fiber Laser Speed Chart for Carbon Steel

500W1kW1.5kW2kW3kW4kW6kW8kW10kW12kW
Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
1133150342450583625642642642642
263889689103110117135158192
3404555656975869298104
423374653606671757575
517293843515363656568
613253237464957606060
8172025374245505050
10131620272936414141
12111418222527282828
141013191828303030
1611141519222222
188121313131313
20111313131313
2281111111111
2577888

Aluminum Laser Cutting Chart

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Aluminum

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Gas pressure (bar)
150W2815
180W21515
180W3718
200W24015
200W32518
4kW11768
4kW210910
4kW52516

Fiber Laser Speed Chart for Aluminum

500W1kW1.5kW2kW3kW4kW6kW8kW10kW12kW
Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
18313325033350061783395011171283
21750100133233317417533617733
3175083120167250417500583
420427183183250417533
513255067108183267333
613335083100183267
81214174283100183
10913254583100
127820284383
16612222843
2010132228
25101322
351013

Brass Laser Cutting Chart

CO2 Laser Speed Chart for Brass

Power (W)Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Gas Pressure (bar)
150W2815
180W21515
180W3718
200W24015
200W32518

Fiber Laser Speed Chart for Brass

500W1kW1.5kW2kW3kW4kW6kW8kW10kW12kW
Thickness (mm)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)Speed (mm/s)
179133175217458458833100011671333
2135363100133167458583650733
31333548396250417542667
422296773150233325483
51018294288133200325
6923286392133200
81014325392133
10517315392
125193153
1481219

Laser Cutting Glass

Since most people don’t actually cut glass, I decided to leave it out of this guide. However, if you’d like to learn more about how to engrave glass, see our beginners guide to engraving glass.

Creating Your Own Laser Cutting Speed and Power Chart

One thing I recommend for every laser machine you have is to create your own speed and power chart.

This involves testing different combinations of speed and power settings, documenting the results, and using pre-existing charts as a starting point.

This process allows you to tailor your laser cutting settings to your specific machine, material, and project requirements, ensuring optimal efficiency and quality.

In the following sections, we’ll guide you through the steps to create your own laser-cutting speed and power chart, helping you achieve the best results for your projects.

Testing Different Speed and Power Combinations

To identify the optimal settings for a specific material and project, it’s essential to test various speed and power combinations. By adjusting the settings on your laser cutter in small increments and running test cuts, you can observe how the material responds and fine-tune your settings accordingly.

This process helps you find the perfect balance between cutting speed and power, resulting in precise and accurate cuts with minimal material waste and project completion time.

Documenting Results and Adjustments

Documenting the results of your test cuts and any adjustments made to the settings is crucial for ensuring consistency and efficiency in future laser-cutting projects. By keeping a record of the settings used for successful cuts and analyzing the documented data to identify patterns and trends, you can optimize the laser cutting process and share best practices within your organization or with external stakeholders.

This documentation will serve as a valuable reference for future projects, helping you achieve optimal results with minimal trial and error.

Using Pre-existing Charts as a Starting Point

Pre-existing laser cutting speed and power charts can be an invaluable resource when creating your custom speed chart. These charts provide a helpful guide for cutting speed and power settings for various materials, giving you an excellent starting point for your tests and adjustments.

By using these pre-existing charts as a reference, you can save time and energy in the trial and error-process, ensuring that you achieve the best possible results for your laser-cutting projects.

Tips for Optimizing Laser Cutting Efficiency and Quality

Optimizing laser cutting efficiency and quality is crucial for achieving the best results in your projects. In this section, we’ll provide you with tips on fine-tuning speed and power settings, regular equipment maintenance, and adhering to safety precautions.

By following these tips, you can ensure consistent, high-quality results in all your laser-cutting projects.

Fine-Tuning Speed and Power Settings

Adjusting speed settings and power settings based on material properties and project requirements can greatly improve cutting efficiency and quality. By fine-tuning these settings, you can tailor the laser cutting process to suit the specific material and thickness, resulting in a precise and accurate cut with minimal material waste and production time.

Regularly testing different speed and max power combinations and documenting the results will help you optimize your laser cutting settings for maximum efficiency and quality.

Equipment Maintenance

Regular equipment maintenance is essential for ensuring optimal performance and extending the lifespan of your laser cutter. By keeping your laser cutting machine clean, inspecting it regularly, and replacing any worn or damaged parts, you can minimize the risk of unexpected downtime and maintain the quality of your cuts.

Additionally, calibrating your laser-cutting parameters and ensuring that all safety protocols are followed will help you achieve consistent, high-quality results in all your laser-cutting projects.

Safety Precautions

Following safety precautions is crucial for minimizing the risk of accidents and damage to the material during the laser-cutting process. Always wear protective gear, such as safety glasses and gloves, and ensure that the area is well-ventilated.

Adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use and maintenance of the laser cutter will also help to ensure a safe working environment for operators and achieve consistent, high-quality results in all your laser cutting projects.

Summary

In this guide, we have explored the essential factors that contribute to successful laser cutting and provided actionable tips for optimizing efficiency and quality. By understanding the roles of speed, power, material properties, and essential factors like laser cutter type and wattage, focal length, and spot size and assist gas selection, you can fine-tune your laser cutting settings to achieve optimal results.

With the knowledge gained from this guide, you’re well on your way to unlocking the full potential of your laser cutter and achieving outstanding results in all your laser-cutting projects. May your cuts be precise, your waste minimal, and your creativity soar!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best speed for laser engraving?

This varies greatly depending on your laser type, power setting, material thickness, and material properties. It’s best to use the above charts as a starting point and then experiment with your own machine to dial in the right speed.

What is the best wattage for laser engraving?

This varies greatly depending on your laser type, power setting, material thickness, and material properties. It’s best to use the above charts as a starting point and then experiment with your own machine to dial in the right speed.

What is the difference between power and speed on a laser engraver?

Power determines the strength of the laser, while speed controls how quickly the lens moves back and forth – a slower speed leads to deeper engravings but can also cause scorching or melting.

However, it is important to find the right balance between power and speed to achieve the desired results. Too much power can cause the laser to overheat, while too much speed can lead to shallow engravings. It is important to experiment with different settings to find the best combination.

How fast is 10W laser engraving?

With the ORTUR Laser Master 3 LE, 10W Laser Engraver, and Cutter, you can achieve a cutting speed of up to 6000 mm/min, which is eight times faster than that of the 1.6W Laser Module, making it an incredibly efficient engraving tool.

This makes it perfect for a wide range of applications, from engraving logos and text on wood, leather, and other materials, to cutting paper, cardboard, and even acrylic. It is also capable of engraving on metal surfaces, making it a versatile tool for any project.

What are the roles of speed, power, and material properties in laser cutting?

Speed, power, and material properties are all key factors when it comes to laser cutting – speed affects exposure time and depth of cut, power influences cut depth and width, while material properties determine the cutting settings for optimal results.

Optimal results require careful consideration of these factors, as well as the right cutting settings. The right settings depend on the material being cut as well as the desired outcome. For example, a thicker material may require a higher power setting, while a thinner material may require a lower power setting.

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