One of more fascinating aspects of running CNCROi.com, a custom CNC laser cutting and engraving, is that the same machine that cuts through 3/4 inch laminate can also delicately cut through even the thinnest paper or satin without causing any damage. It’s like using a sledge-hammer to nail a frame to the wall… and it works wonderfully!
The set-up for paper is pretty straight forward, unlike acrylic where you got flames or wood with smoke, paper just vaporizes instantly on the spot. No flames, very little smoke and a bit of dust easily wiped off. Now, we aren’t doing NORMAL paper but pretty damn expensive high-end paper in this test. It has a bit of extra stuff (that does flame-up) in there to give it the texture of steel and other materials but at a price point that’s a fraction of the real thing… even compared to laminate!
I decided it was time to start having CNC laser cut samples for my meetings as it’s a wonderful material when the application warrants it. As I wrote about earlier, there are many ways of accomplishing the same result, it depends on budget as to which approach is taken.
As paper is relatively thin, it cuts fast with little effort by our laser. We don’t even run it at full power but do at full speed… otherwise we’d just be wasting electricity. CNC lasers like electricity and will take everything you give to them… the bills at the end of the month prove that!
For projects such as these, this isn’t the set-up I’d use but for showing customers and filming purposes, some deviation from the actual methods of properly cutting paper must be made otherwise these pictures and videos will be as much fun as watching grass grow.
The cut out from the paper just falls out, this is what you want, especially on such a delicate material. The challenge with paper is optimizing your CNC laser settings to get through but not burn, it sounds counter-intuitive but my goal here at CNCROi.com with paper is to now have burn marks on paper, just straight vaporization.
These papers are a bit more of a challenge as I’m optimizing the cutting process across several varieties of material, each with their own sweet spot.
We have a number of partnerships, including this one with a high-end paper distributor and manufacturer. Basically, you tell us what kind of paper you want, just like the acrylic, wood and metal we offer in endless combinations, and we’ll get that for you. That’s what custom is all about!
These are regular A4 sheets of paper, as you can see, there is plenty of wood on our Austrian CNC laser’s bed to put full sheets of paper for ultimate ROI. The way we traditionally work is that a customer (or we source) a sheet of material that fills the entire bed so we can optimize the quantity of designs cut in one production run rather than placing smaller sheets of paper one at a time on the bed.
I used this black grid table as it supports the paper and as there is no flashback or flames in our laser cutting process for paper, there is no damage to be had. It also provides a fantastic contrast for these pictures for the videos.
Taking a look at the whole bunch, pretty good results! We can improve on the finish and cutting times on these by doing additional material testing but this should give you a rough idea of what can be accomplished.
What’s the application for paper?
Why would somebody want to laser cut paper? The answer is it depends on the application… what comes to mind first would be wedding invitations, corporate invitations and as a replacement for die cutting. You may not realize this but print shops have to make jigs to cut through your business card, they are expensive, done manually and rather limited as well (ask the print show owner to show you one and you’ll see the issues right away).
What do you gain by using a CNC laser?
- We can start right away, print shops don’t make the dies in-house, they take a week to be manufactured.
- Like a die, we are repeatable, unlike a die, we have no size limits – this table could be filled with ONE production run of 50 wedding invitation and we’d be done in 24 hours easily… can’t do that at a print shop!
- We can mix and match materials, for instance, corporate awards can have a paper inlay to add a bit more contrast instead of using more expensive acrylics, woods etc.
- RESOLUTION – CNCROi.com can repeatedly cut intricate details in paper (and any material really) that a die simply cannot do… and we can repeat this onto other media for matching rubber/wood stamps, Delrin seals and even plaques.
Watch the video of this paper being cut and remember, if you are looking for a Custom Numerical Control shop, you’ve just found CNCROi.com. Contact us!
BTW, I wasn’t kidding about the 3/4 inch laminate, here’s a picture!