Best material for laser cutting & flexibility

I want to design and laser cut some thin pieces of plastic that I can use to create arches and curved walls for a maze that Sphero robots can navigate. Any suggestions? I will be attaching the strips to a peg-board with 3D printed clips.

Acrylic would be the best laserable material. You can form it with heat if you need to, and if you use thin enough stock you’ll be able to make your curved walls and arches. The downside would be that acrylic is fairly brittle.
If it’s just strips, that you could cut with a table saw or similar, I’d consider expanded pvc. Will be more flexible than acrylic, but you wouldn’t cut it on a typical CO2 laser (or diode).

You have to watch out for Chlorine gas when you use a laser on PVC. I would stick with Acrylic.

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Thanks, guys!

@HarryC.Ragland Was that not clear in my post? I don’t want anyone to laser cut PVC based on reading it. I can edit if needed.

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How big are you wanting to make the arches? Have you thought about laser engravable plastic? I use Rowmark laser engravable plastic all the time and it works good, I make nameplates for desk and also use it for cutting out shapes for models. It bends easy and can also be bent with a heat gun.

These are arches that a 2" diameter robot could roll under, so they have to be fairly flexible. A heat gun is out because the kids would be creating the arches on the fly; design & make a maze, change it, try a different sized arch, change it, all during a competition. This gives an idea of what it would look like in place (from a recent, ongoing Kickstarter campaign): archForSphero

I used a piece of the 1/16” plastic and cut it out with a laser. The piece was 2”X8” and it bent over good

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Which specific plastic did you use? I am still overwhelmed by the diversity of the plastics world. Is your source Rowmark?

I’m not sure if this is what Russell used, but this stuff will give you the same results.

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I used Rowmark, we get it from JDS Industries. I use it to make models also. You can see that it bends good.

Thanks, Neil! I have another project that this might be perfect for…

Thanks, Russell! I’ll order some and post a picture of what we come up with…

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Thin and relatively inexpensive would be a product known as laser stencil material. Most of the ad copy references construction of the product as mylar and directly references laser cutting with clean edges. Half millimeter and rather strong and durable for such thin material. I have a sheet that I have yet to cut, but can confirm the durability. Amazon sells the stuff at various pricing levels depending on quantity.

Thanks, Fred. Have ordered a pack and report back on how well they work out.

I would recommend considering thin sheets of acrylic or polycarbonate. Both of these materials are available in a variety of colors and thicknesses, making them suitable for a wide range of projects.

Acrylic is a popular choice for laser cutting because it is easy to work with and produces a clean, polished edge. It is also available in a range of thicknesses, from very thin (less than 1mm) to quite thick (up to 25mm or more).

Polycarbonate is another option that is known for its strength and durability. It is often used in applications where impact resistance is important, such as safety glasses, riot shields, and machine guards. Like acrylic, it can be laser cut and is available in a variety of thicknesses.

If you’re looking for professional online laser cutting or engraving services for your projects, don’t hesitate to contact RazorLAB.