Ponoko

Laser cut metal

Stainless steel are great for creating durable and attractive products. Our laser cutting technology allows you to achieve a level of precision and build quality at unbeatable value. Build stunning art pieces, unique decorations, house appliances, and virtually anything you dream up!

Showroom

Showroom
Laser Cut Cable Car
by San Gatiche
Silver Laser Cut Aluminum Seder Bowl
by Yair Emanuel
Birdie TV Necklace
by Erica Schwartz

Materials

Metal
Stainless Steel

0.036 inches

Metal - Aluminum

What is it

6061 grade Aluminum.

This is a medium strength alloy possessing good ductility and therefore good formability. Aluminium alloy 6061 is known for work hardening rapidly and is readily weldable. It also possesses high corrosion resistance particularly in marine environments.

Photochemical Machining

Photochemical Machining is great for intricate designs like jewelry and name badges. The materials available are stainless steel, brass and copper. You can etch into one side of your design. The formatting requirements are slightly different for PCM so see here for the guide - Everything you need to know for Photochemical Machining (PCM).

Design notes

The fabrication process for metal is different from all our other materials - as such there are a few important points to note:

  • We won't be able to apply Prime discount pricing to metal orders.
  • Getting your metal pieces cut may take longer than standard orders. If you want to make designs on other materials as well, we would recommend placing the metal order separately.
  • Please read Everything you need to know for Photochemical Machining (PCM) before starting your project as there are some specific design requirements for this material.

Environmental info

Recyclable.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Aluminum is best connected with mechanical fastenings or welding.

A two part epoxy may be used to stick metal to other materials. For more info about gluing metal see this site.

Metal - Stainless Steel

What is it

304 grade Stainless Steel.

This is the most versatile and most widely used stainless steel, available in a wider range of products, forms and finishes than any other. It has excellent forming and welding characteristics.

Photochemical Machining

Photochemical Machining is great for intricate designs like jewelry and name badges. The materials available are stainless steel, brass and copper. You can etch into one side of your design. The formatting requirements are slightly different for PCM so see here for the guide - Everything you need to know for Photochemical Machining.

Design notes

The fabrication process for metal is different from all our other materials - as such there are a few important points to note:

  • We won't be able to apply Prime discount pricing to metal orders.
  • Getting your metal pieces cut may take longer than standard orders. If you want to make designs on other materials as well, we would recommend placing the metal order separately.
  • Please read Everything you need to know for Photochemical Machining before starting your project as there are some specific design requirements for this material.

Environmental info

Recyclable.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Stainless steel best connected with mechanical fastenings, soldering, brazing or welding.

A two part epoxy may be used to stick metal to other materials. For more info about gluing metal see this site.

Getting started

Latest article about laser cutting

How far into the material does laser engraving cut?

All you need to know about laser etched depth

When your design calls for laser etching, whether it is Line Engraving or Area Fill Engraving, the laser burns away a very small amount of material – just enough to make an impression on the surface. The lasers are calibrated to provide a crisp contrasting visual effect, rather than a guaranteed depth. But if you still want to know how deep laser engraving goes, we can take a closer look and also talk about a few alternatives for when your design requires a greater depth than laser engraving can achieve.

How deep does the laser cut?

This varies from material to material, but it is always just a surface impression. In 3mm acrylic you can expect around 0.25mm (0.01″) deep, and in some of the woods the laser will cut up to 0.5mm (0.02″) deep. To go further into the material than this will increase the risk of undesirable damage such as warping (in acrylic) and excessive burning (in timber).

In certain circumstances it can be difficult to predict exactly how laser engraved lines or areas will come out, as we can see in the sample images. Note how the very small Area Engraved text is patchy and even has some elements missing. Here is what Josh has to say in the Ponoko Support Forums:

One thing you can do to improve the quality of the engraving is put a vector engraving line around your text or shapes to make the edges more crisp. There are pros and cons for using this technique and it largely depends on which material you are using. Personally I like a heavy raster engraving on any of the plastics but a medium raster engraving with a medium vector outline on the timbers.

With this in mind, we recommend experimenting with different settings on a test piece (the P1 template is handy for this!) before going ahead with the final design. You can also learn a lot by checking out the Material Samples, and this very handy Laser Engraving Cheat Sheet.

The Ponoko Support Forums are a great resource when it comes to learning all about laser cutting, and you’ll find guides on both line engraving and area engraving complete with sample images in a range of materials and tips on how to get the best results.

What if I want to go deeper than this?

Laser engraving is not always the way to go… some designs call for a larger amount of material to be removed than laser engraving can provide. Depending on your requirements, there are a number of ways to achieve this. Two of the most common solutions are:

1. Use a secondary process to remove the material (for example, cutting a strip halfway through the material using a milling machine or table saw). This is not a part of the Ponoko service, and would need to be done in your own workshop or maker space.

2. Build up the structure from several layers of material. Control the depth of cavities and cutouts by placing a solid layer on the bottom and then reducing the size of subsequent layers to create the required change in depth. This can be easily achieved with laser cutting and is often used to make enclosures for electronics in acrylics from the Ponoko Materials Catalog.

What has your experience been using different laser engraving settings? Let us know in the comments below.