Custom Laser Cutting

We offer custom cutting services and production cutting services for those who wish to sell their designs themselves. Please read through this page before contacting us for cutting services.

We do not convert plans to cut files. Currently we do not have anyone we can recommend for this kind of job. If you find a good CAD designer we would be happy to refer others to them.

Our laser is an Epilog Legend 36EXT. It has a cutting platform that is 24"x36" and has a 75W CO2 laser. We can cut or etch many materials - please email with specific requirements. Sorry, we cannot cut carbon fiber.

MATERIALS

Our stock is as follows (all dimensions in inches):

Balsa: 4x36, contest weight when available - otherwise AAA grade
1/32, 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4

Basswood: 4x24
1/32, 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4

Birch plywood: 12x24 sheets (12x36 sheets are available on special order)
1/64, 1/32, 1/16, 1/8

Liteply (poplar): 12x24 sheets (12x36 sheets are available on special order)
1/8

Note: plywood is produced in Europe and is actually made to metric dimensions. If you need close tolerances please send a test cut first. You will be charged for the test cut, but, it is better than designing a complete structure only to find out you have to change dimensions of slots/tabs/notches. Wood dimensions also vary quite a bit from batch to batch and sometimes from sheet to sheet. Variation of 0.010" thickness is not unusual.

Actual thicknesses are:
  • 1/8" nominal ply is 3.0mm
  • 1/16" nominal ply is 1.5mm
  • 1/32" nominal ply is 0.8mm
  • 1/64" nominal ply is 0.4mm
What Does Laser Cutting Cost?

We can provide cost estimates for your jobs. Cost for laser-cutting your file is made up of four components.

(1) A $20 setup fee for each new cut file. The charge may be higher if the cut file does not conform to our guidelines or is very large. If this is the case, we will notify you before cutting.

(2) $1.50 per minute of laser cutting time.

(3) Materials.

(4) Shipping.

To get a rough idea of your cost, count the number of sheets of wood you are using.

Balsa 4x36
1/32 to 1/8 thick = $10 per sheet
3/16 thick = $12 per sheet
1/4" = $14 per sheet

Bass 4x24
1/32 to 3/16 thick = $7 per sheet
1/4 thick = $8 per sheet

Birch plywood
1/64 to 1/16 thick = $0.15 per sq in
1/8 thick = $0.30 per sq in

Liteply
1/8 thick = $0.15 per sq in

Of course these are general numbers. If you pack a lot of small parts on a sheet the price will be higher. Things that increase costs include: a lot of lightening holes and notches, a lot of part number etching, double cutting, etc. Actual prices can be double the estimates above.

If you are interested in quantity production costs then we will cut one kit for you, at your cost, and give you the exact cost for producing your parts. Production costs may be 20-30% less than single unit costs. Production is six or more kits ordered at one time.

THE PROCESS


The process goes as follows:
1. You send cut files and we review them for compatibility with our system. We notify you if changes are required. We will provide you with an estimate of the cost.
2. Upon your approval of the cost estimate, we cut the files.
3. We calculate the cost plus shipping and send you an invoice via PayPal.
4. When we receive payment for the invoice, we ship your parts.

There are no refunds for custom work. If we make a mistake we will fix it at no charge to you.
Material size and parts layout affect shipping costs. For example, if your project contains full-length 36" balsa sheets and full 12 x 24" ply sheets, we may have to ship the cut wood in two separate boxes. For simplicity, cut that 36" balsa sheet into a 24 and a 12 or two 18's so that they fit in the same box as the plywood.

We have a large number of international customers. International shipping costs increase dramatically when the package has a dimension larger than 36". This is significant, because a 36" long balsa sheet has to go in a 38" long shipping box. Cut the 36" balsa sheet into a 24 and a 12 or two 18's so that they can fit in a 36" or smaller box.

CAD DRAWING GUIDELINES AND TECHNIQUES

We accept .DXF, .DWG, .CDR and .TCW (version 20 and earlier) vector drawing files. No other file types are acceptable.

We work in inches. If you send a file in metric dimensions, we will scale it by 0.03937

Splines, beziers, and other complex curves sometimes are not translated well and should be avoided. Also, using groups or blocks in your CAD drawings can confuse the laser. If you have any question about compatibility send us a sample and we'll see how well it converts.

Eliminate double or duplicate lines - they cause the laser to cut the line twice, which increases the cutting time, results in a wider kerf, and may cause a burn-out which ruins the sheet of wood.

Always use 'connector' or 'break' tags to hold the pieces in the sheet. These tags should be at least 0.05" wide for plywood, larger for balsa. Most parts should have at least two connector or break tags. If you have very small lightening holes (1/8" diameter or less) or other small pieces you don't need, you can let the pieces fall out. If you plan on kitting your design this does not look professional.

Leave a margin of at least 0.125" around the edges of each sheet of material. Balsa is notorious for shrinking and some of our sheets are not a full 4" wide.

Wood is susceptible to burning when too much heat is applied to a small area. This can happen with double lines or when two lines are too close together. To minimize burns, leave a space of at least 1/16" between lines. If two lines converge to a point, reduce the length of one of the lines so that it doesn't meet the other line. Remove all duplicate lines.

Our software does not nest your parts and it does not optimize the cut file for the shortest possible cut time. You can help to minimize the cut time by doing two things. First, remove all duplicate lines from your drawings. Second, convert lines to polylines (sometimes referred to as connected line or continuous line).

The width of the laser beam is approximately 0.005". However, the beam does widen in thicker material. If you need very close tolerances then you must account for that in your drawings. Please be aware that wood thickness varies by up to .010”. When cut ready drawings are sent, we make no guarantee of parts fit.

All lines to be cut or etched must be 0.0" or a "hairline" in Corel Draw. All text must be in vector fonts (*.SHX). For Corel Draw files, all text must be converted to curves. Etching will significantly increase the laser time and cost.

Using Layers

All lines to be cut must be put on a single layer. This layer should be black (RGB 0,0,0) or red (RGB 255,0,0).

Labels or other text to be etched must be on a separate layer. This layer should be green (RGB 0,255,0).

Sheet outlines and wood descriptions (i.e., anything that is not to be cut or etched) must be on another separate layer. This layer should be blue (RGB 0,0,255).