How to find best laser cutting settings?

I’m specifically talking about cutting completely through, but this probably applies to just ‘engraving’ as well.

I’m assuming the short answer is “trial and error”. But after spending WAY too much time in the shop, I’m about tired of this little test star and can’t seem to get it right! I’m basically just tweaking 1,2, or 3 of these settings:

  1. Laser speed per minute
  2. Number of passes
  3. Depth per pass (edit: this should logically only change if #2 changes right?)

Is this what it looks like for y’all when trying to find the right settings? I’m on setting tweak #18… Is there a better way? I’m assuming since I want to cut through, I can keep laser power at 100%, then use the 3 options above to find some perfect cutting cocktail.

(I’m working with 1/8" Basswood)

Thanks. Yes, this is the 3.8W JTech.

I know it’s more for engraving/picengraving, just had a request from someone if I could cut something out for them in super fine detail . aka laser. And I really didn’t want to go balsa wood it’s so dang fragile. So figured this was the next closest option

And by air assist, you mean blowing some compressed air where the laser is cutting to remove some of the “char” so it’s actually cutting fresh wood?

I use a 40 watt CO2 laser and I will tell you that if you are using “cheap” ply, you will never have consistent cuts.
There are way too many variables when “burning” wood. The biggest is the glue used. Then there are the fillers for holes and defects. I just did some work for a friend making frig magnets. One of the cuts would flair up at one spot and never cut. I hate to say that using a laser is not an exact science but it has a lot more variables than just cutting it with a router and a bit!
Just my 2 cents.

You can check this out for some better info on the subject

“Four years ago, we began making laser-cut plywood jigsaw puzzles. In that time, we’ve gone through four different plywoods in search of a material that works well for laser cutting intricate parts. Along the way, we’ve learned a great deal about how plywood is produced and confronted a fundamental problem: There is no commercially available plywood made in the US designed specifically for laser-cutting. Ultimately, we’ve had to have our own custom plywood manufactured.”

1 Like