PrintAWorld New York Explains Laser Cutting Services

Laser Cutting, Etching, and Engraving ~ Oh my!

PrintAWorld New York Explains Laser Cutting Services

Image courtesy of WALLPAPER ABYSS à la Disney / Pixar
(John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft)


‘They say art imitates life, or is it the other way around?’

A classic chicken-and-egg, or “How did the zebra get stripes?” kind of question, one could easily wonder the same when it comes to the invention of laser beams.

Whether it was X-Men’s Cyclops (1963), James Bond’s Goldfinger (1965), Star Wars’ Death Star (1977), or Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear (1995), laser beams are certainly a part of global culture today.

However, not everyone is fully aware of just where and how they came to be. Skipping over the semi-technical nature of advancing approaches since its 1960 inception, one can simply think of lasers the same way dubious kids fry ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass.


Laser Cutting Laser Cutting Laser Cutting
PrintAWorld had the honor of laser cutting
Yan Gabriella's collection of princess calendars


By amplifying energy through the focus of a lens, controlled power settings allow a laser to cut, etch, or engrave just about any surface on the planet!

However, it is important to be mindful that like most technology, there are still limitations to physical reality, so for reasons Jimmy Whales is proud to tell you about on Wikipedia, we are stuck with the following capabilities depending on the material(s) you choose:

Material Cut? Engrave? Thickness (in. | mm) Avg. Kerf (in.)
Acrylic Y Y 1/16” | 1.5 mm
1/8” | 3 mm
1/4” | 6 mm
.007”
.009”
.01”
Birch Plywood Y Y 1/16” | 1.5 mm
1/8” | 3 mm
1/4” | 6 mm
.006”
.008”
.01”
Glass N Y n/a n/a
MDF Y Y 1/8” | 3 mm
1/4” | 6 mm
0.5” | 12 mm
.006”
.008”
.01”
Museum Board Y Y 2 ply (1/32”) | 1 mm
4 ply (1/16”) | 1.5 mm
.005”
.005”
Stone N Y n/a n/a



What is a kerf, one might ask? No - it’s not a knock-off Dude Perfect NERF prop, but rather, the amount of material which is cut or melted away by the laser between edges. For most projects, this is not important, but when you need the parts to line up perfectly, kerf becomes extremely important to pay attention to.

While etching / engraving is really limitless in terms of materials which can be used, cutting all the way through is limited to the following maximum thicknesses per material:

Material Max Thickness
Acrylic 3/8”
Wood 3/32”
Card Paper 1/4”
Fabric / Leather 1/8″ (or 1 oz.)


In homage to the giants which came before us, we want to take a moment to thank and acknowledge New York City’s own Western Electric Engineering Research Center, whom without, laser cutting machines would never have emerged. At PrintAWorld, we love having the opportunity to carry on the next chapter of its legacy!


If you have an idea for a project, or need quick service with high quality results? Get your free quote today - we’d love to help!





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