Our supply: Stock material
Thickness: Available in 3mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm,
Sheet sizes: 1500×1500mm, 1200×710mm, 900×600mm, 600×600mm, 600×300mm
Your supply: Not all plywood can be laser cut. Make sure your plywood is interior grade with an MR glue line. Get in touch to find out more.
A high strength laminated sheet material made from Birch timber. Both faces are grade BB which allows for patches and other minor knots / imperfections. Commonly used wood material for laser cutting and engraving. Bonded with MR glue line and known as laser plywood in the industry.
Art & sculpture, Jewellery, signage, model making, light construction work, furniture and cabinet making, retail display.
As a natural material, please be aware the tone and grain line can vary from sheet to sheet. Thinner sheets can also be prone to warping. All sheets are laser cut engraved with a horizontal grain line.
As a natural material burn marks are caused during the cutting process that are minimised using the following standardised cutting methods.
Compressed air (usually 4 bar of pressure) is used to prevent flaming, scorching and charring on the top surface. In some cases a subtle discolouration can occur around the surrounding area of the cut line (particularly on thicker plywood.) These can be easily sanded off with a fine grit wet and dry paper.
Very small flares can occur on the surface where the laser fires at the beginning of the path of a vector line / shape. These marks can be easily sanded off with a fine grit wet and dry paper.
For up to 6mm as standard, the bottom surface is masked with protective tape to minimise burn marks caused when the laser meets the laser bed. Unfortunately for thicknesses of 9mm and over protective tape can’t be used as it peels during the cutting process. Therefore burn marks will occur on the reverse.
The average cutting kerf (how much the laser takes away) for MDF is 1.5-6mm thickness: + / – 0.1mm , 6-12mm thickness: + / – 0.2mm, 12mm+ in thickness: + / – 0.3mm
As a benchmark, we recommend that minimum cut widths be no smaller than the corresponding thickness of the material. See more on min cut widths and kerf of the laser.
Birch plywood laser cuts with brown / black edge which is darker the thicker the plywood being cut. The edge can get very dirty on plywood thicker than 9mm and in some cases mark if in contact with the material surface.
As a natural material, wood knots and other imperfections are occurrent within the plywood layers. They are slightly harder than the plywood layers which can have an effect on the clarity of laser cutting. When the laser meets these knots, it can cause the laser to flair up slightly resulting in darker markings on the surface. Sometimes the hardness of a knot will prevent the laser from cutting all the way through the sheet. In this case we will need to use a knife to trim out the wood knot. On birch plywood above 9mm, wood knots can make the cutting quite messy particularly on the underside.
In some cases pockets of air around the wood knot can cause the top surface surrounding the knotted area to burn away making a slightly uneven cut line. Unfortunately this is unpreventable as there is no way to determine where the wood knots are situated within the veneer layers.
We have established optimised engraving settings for all our own supply materials. For birch plywood the marking is a shallow light surface scratching. Engraves with excellent clarity. 0.8mm and 1.5mm thick plywood engraves with a black / brown tone. 3mm -12mm thicknesses engrave with a lighter more subtle orange / brown tone.
As a standard with all wood materials we engrave with the grain line horizontal (left to right) to ensure the best clarity. If you would prefer to engrave against the grain, you’ll need to specify this in your job request.
Please be aware that as a natural material, a slight variation in the tone of the engraved finish can occur from sheet to sheet from the same standard engrave settings. Tone of wood, grain line and density and moisture content all have an impact on the engraving tone. Variation in tone can also affected by power distribution if you have lots of pieces of artwork to engrave that vary in size.
If you would like your engraving to be deeper than our standard settings, you will need to specify this in your job request. Be aware that the higher laser power and slower processing speeds required can cause more oils from the wood to be released and therefore mark the surface. The laser machine extraction can also pull these oils / fumes over the top surface creating a scorched edge appearance to the engraving that is stronger the deeper it is. Some people like this effect but be aware if you want to keep a clean result, it’s best to stick with our optimised settings.