Can I cut acrylic with a diode laser?

January 10th, 2024

Many people start their laser cutting journey with a diode laser.  I did.  They are a cheap entry into the laser world and a perfect way to see if this technology is for you.  I ran some tests with 30 different varieties to see if cutting acrylic with my diode laser was worth the time.

I am by no means an expert.    The results are my opinion from the specific tests I ran.  It certainly is reasonable to think with more time and effort dedicated towards optimizing the power, speed, and passes, one could achieve better results.  Your results may vary and I encourage you to run your own tests if this topic interests you.  But, if you value my opinion, here it is :)


Laser - 10W Atomstack X7 diode laser

Power - 100%

Speed - 800mm/min

I ran tests with 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 passes with the above settings

  • 3mm black acrylic worked well.  It cut cleanly through somewhere between 5 and 8 passes.  If I was selling a product I would have no problem cutting it with my diode laser.
  • 3mm black glitter worked fairly well.  It cut cleanly through somewhere between 9 and 12 passes.  There was some bulging on the back and front of the acrylic from heat.
  • 3mm red and 3mm yellow worked.  Both cut cleanly through between 13 and 16 passes.  There was some bulging around the cut on the front and significant bulging on the back.
  • 3mm navy also worked.  It cut cleanly through between 17 and 20 passes.  There was even more bulging around the cut on both the front and back of the piece.
  • All other 25 variations did not cut through after 20 passes.

In my opinion, 3mm black and 3mm glitter black are the only two types I would feel comfortable cutting and selling.  The other three that did cut had too much bulging and too many passes to make it worth the time, effort, and money.  In my opinion, I would rather save the money and put it towards a CO2 laser that will cut all the acrylics!

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