Ponoko

Laser cut wood

Wood is an incredibly versatile material for laser cutting and engraving. You can use it for jewellery, fashion accessories, ornaments, decorations, custom containers...heck, even furniture!

Almost any wooden item you dream up can become a reality with Ponoko.

Showroom

Showroom
Bamboo Cake Toppers
by Valerie Thai
Castle Under Attack
Toy Model

by Andrea Garuti
Fox And Babies Brooch
by Sally Crossthwaite
Wood Camera
by Christopher Bril

Materials

MDF
Natural

0.251 inches

Bamboo
Amber

0.106 inches

Cork
Natural

0.118 inches

MDF - Natural

What is it

A particle board consisting of fine wood fibres pressed into a panel with the addition of resin and wax.

MDF has a thickness tolerance of +/-10% the stated material thickness.

Design notes

MDF has a smooth sanded finish that is a pale brown color.

Typical uses

MDF is typically used joinery and furniture applications.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Construction adhesives will bond boards well. Follow the adhesive manufacturer's instructions for application processes. Screw joints should be pre-drilled to avoid splitting.

Order a sample

Bamboo - Amber

What is it

Five layers of bamboo veneer cross laminated to produce a plywood board.

Bamboo has a thickness tolerance of +/-10% the stated material thickness.

Design notes

A golden brown color with a fine grain. The bamboo joints are visible on the surface and break up the grain creating a unique appearance.

Sometimes sheets of this material may not be very flat when we get it from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, this is the nature of material. The inherent tension in the grain of the wood and the way it is constructed means the panels can warp after manufacturing.

Be aware of this when designing for this material. If possible arrange your designs on P1 sized templates.

Grain direction will always run horizontal as drawn on the computer screen.

Typical uses

Cabinetmaking, furniture fittings & linings, Also ideal for commercial and residential interior fittings and linings. Not suitable for exterior use.

Environmental info

Bamboo is 100% renewable.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Bamboo panel can be cut and sanded using conventional woodworking equipment and offers excellent dimensional stability. It can also be glued or mechanically fastened using the same materials and fasteners commonly used with wood.

Order a sample

Cork - Natural

What is it

Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree. Cork is light weight, rot resistant, compressible and recoverable, expandable, fire resistant in its natural state, impermeable, soft, and buoyant.

Design notes

A brown/tan spotty color.

Be aware of this when designing for this material. If possible arrange your designs on P1 sized templates.

Grain direction will always run horizontal as drawn on the computer screen.

Typical uses

Coasters and placemats. Bulletin board material and sectional wall covering. Also ideal for certain gasket applications, shipping and spacer pads, protective backing and numerous other industrial, commercial and hobby requirements.

Environmental info

The cork bark can be 'stripped' off allowing new bark to grow in its place without killing or damaging the trees. This makes every tree a renewable source of raw material.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Construction adhesives will bond boards well. Follow the adhesive manufacturer's instructions for application processes.

Order a sample

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.