Asylasaur Material List

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Note: To sort any of these tables, click on the arrow symbol at the top of whichever column you wish to sort by.


Materials known to be cuttable

Material Thickness Cutting Etching Notes
Solid Wood Up to 3/8" Oily resinous woods should be watched for smoke/fire risk
Balsa 1/8" 8000/20% 4000/100%
Plywoods Up to 1/2" Exterior grade plywood glues may create thicker and or toxic smoke
Baltic Birch 1/8" 1400/100% 8000/60% Great looking, source from Boulter Plywood
Baltic Birch 1/4" 400/100% 1500/100% Great looking, source from Boulter Plywood
MDF, Eng. Woods Up to 1/2" Exterior grade glues may create thicker and or toxic smoke
Paper 8000/60% 8000/30% Be sure to tape down, cut interior first and clean bed
Aeronaut Coaster 5000/90% 8000/50% Better start collecting them...
Acrylic/Lucite Up to 1/2" Top focus cuts beautifully with clean edges. AKA Plexiglass/PMMA NOT Lexan
Clear Acrylite 1/8" 500/100% 2000/100% Remove top paper
Clear Acrylite 1/4" 400/100% 2000/100% Remove top paper
Green Tinted 3/8" 200/100% 1500/100%
Mirrored Cut with mirror facing down
Mirrored Acrylite 1/8" 800/100% 3000/50%
Delrin Up to 3/8" Minimal heat deformation. Higher Shore numbers (harder) cut better
Kapton Tape or sheet
Mylar Thick sheets may curl/bubble. Gold-coated reflects beam
Styrene A lot of smoke but reportedly works okay; some concern about toxic styrene monomer
Depron foam Good for RC, architectural models, but must be monitored closely
Gator Foam Commonly used but see warning for polystyrene foam under "AVOID"
Cloth Heavy synthetics may contain unacceptable chlorine
Leather Leathers are hard to cut - use high power low speeds
Cowhide Great for marking but leaves notable edge taper
Magnetic sheet Cuts very well. Available at Staples
Rubber (non-chlorine) [1] If you don't know the source (best assurance), try the Flame Test in Footnote [1]
Carbon fiber/mats Uncoated carbon fiber only. Cut ends of mats may fray

Materials known to be etchable

Material Speed/Power Notes
Ceramic Regular hardware store tiles will work, in addition to fancy "laser tiles". A layer of Moly lube can be applied to absorb IR and cut some depth into (e.g.) durable hardware store 'subway' tile
Anodized Aluminum
Painted/coated metal
Finished stone
Tempered hardboard Glues/resins in some engineered wood product may fume

Materials to avoid

Material Hazard
PVC, Vinyl

Chlorinated rubbers (Neoprene, etc.) [1]

Anything with halogens [1]

When vaporized, any plastic with Fluorine or Chlorine (and possibly Bromine, Iodine or Astatine) decomposes into toxic/corrosive compounds/free radicals that are bad for humans, the Asylasaur's optics, and the outside environment. A laser is usually not the best tool for cutting these materials.

Plastic/artificial leather

Bonded Leather

"Pleather" usually contains vinyl. Other leather substitutes have diverse chemistries, often proprietary/secret, so we can't know their safety.
ABS Gives off cyanide when cut. Tends to melt rather than engrave.
HDPE Tends to melt to sticky goo and may burn, rather than cutting clean edges.

Polystyrene foam

Foamcore > 1/8in

Gatorboard (etc.)

Polystyrene is the #1 cause of laser-damaging fires (partly because many makerspaces permit it). Most foamcore is polystyrene covered in paper which may act as a candle wick. Even in a successful cut, the plastic foam edges cup inwards, rather than cutting squarely. Laser is usually not the best tool.
Fiberglass Glass fibers scatter IR instead of cutting; the binding resin gives off fumes.

Coated carbon fiber

Carbon composites

(Anything with epoxy)

Plain carbon fiber cuts okay (with possible fraying) but anything containing epoxy or similar resins will give off toxic/corrosive fumes when vaporized.
Bare Metals Metals generally won't cut or etch, but a laser may burn paint/coatings off metals for a nice effect. Cermark or moly grease can be used to mark metal.
Polypropylene Melts and burns with thick black smoke. Melted drops become rock hard on cooling. These can be difficult to remove, and may adhere the plastic sheet to the grid.

Materials Sourcing

Material Type Thickness Size Cost Cost Per sq in Source Link
Acrylic .117" 24" x 48" $34.13 $0.02 Amazon (Prime)


[1] How do you know if a rubber or plastic is halogenated or not?

Chlorine-containing rubbers usually give a green flame color on a flame test, as follows:

  1. Flame a loop of steel or copper wire in a torch flame to remove all impurities;
  2. Dab the loop on the material under test to melt a small sample onto the loop;
  3. Place the loop and sample back in the torch flame and look for a telltale green flame.

A few ions (e.g. borates, cuprates) may give a false positive, but assume all positive (green) flames indicate chlorine unless you know otherwise. Note that a copper wire will work for this test, because even a large amount of copper itself is not enough to taint the test.

I will conduct tests to see if a flame test for fluorine, iodine (purple) or bromine is reliable when/if I encounter sufficient suitable samples of those materials, but chlorine is the most common/worst (known) offending halogen. Fluorine is potentially nasty, but bromine (a common flame retardant in ABS and other plastics) and iodine are potentially much less hazardous

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