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Thread: A better way to cut Mylar?

  1. #1

    A better way to cut Mylar?

    We are currently using our Epilog laser to cut 14mil Mylar for stencils. The best way we've come up with so far is to tape the surface, cut, and then peel the tape off the finished stencils. Has anyone found a better way? The taping and tape removal is very labor intensive.

    We've considered a desktop plotter, but the versions that will provide enough force (300g) are very expensive.

    Does anyone have any experience with using a plotter or have the perfect laser settings that won't require cleaning burnt edges?

    My cramped hands thank you in advance!!

    -Daniel

  2. #2
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    By "tape", do you mean a mask to prevent surface contamination from smoke? If so, a transfer tape should come off with a liberal application of water, and it won't hurt the mylar.
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  3. #3
    Run it as an engraving job and you'll get much better results. Takes longer, but the lack of consistent heat on the edge prevents it from curling / burning.

    If you want to run it fast as a cut, I have settings written down at home that I can share with you.
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  4. #4
    Dan, you are correct, I do mean a mask, I use a low-tack masking type tape, but I've had no luck removing it with water. This is probably because the pieces are very small; some are only 3/4" wide.

    Jay, I may just try it as an engraving job, thanks for the tip. I'd also love to compare your settings to what I'm using now.

  5. #5
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    The application tape that sign shops use will work better than masking tape. You can get different strengths of tack, from low to very high. So a low tack application tape applied before lasering and then soaked in water for the removal would make the job less labor intensive. The sign application tape is meant to release its bond after being soaked in water.
    Last edited by Bernie Fraser; 08-19-2015 at 5:00 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Are you making industrial stencils or arts and craft stencils. Are you using a vector cutting table. I cut .075 mylar at 18-25 watts with a speed ranging for 2 to 6.
    I have an 80 watt Trotec. We make thousand of stencils a month and they are vector cut.

    If I can be of further assistance, send me a PM.

    Robert
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  7. Question Stencils

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Tepper View Post
    Are you making industrial stencils or arts and craft stencils. Are you using a vector cutting table. I cut .075 mylar at 18-25 watts with a speed ranging for 2 to 6.
    I have an 80 watt Trotec. We make thousand of stencils a month and they are vector cut.

    If I can be of further assistance, send me a PM.

    Robert
    Hi Robert

    Seems like you're a pro with stencils. We have a Trotec Speedy 300. I have to cut some stencils for a hobbyist. Which thickness mylar is the best to use and do you have any tips and tricks you can share with me? I have not purchased my mylar yet so if you have any recommendations on where to buy it it would be appreciated. Can you cut more than one at a time?

    Thanks
    LaVerne

  8. #8
    May sound crazy but try to cut a peeled sheet in a pan of water just covering the piece. I've played with cutting through water with other plastics to stop edge burning.
    Chinese 6040 by NiceCut. Originally 60 Watt upgraded to 150 Watt.....I thought I had pretty much every problem in the book of laser cutting. It turns out that there is a set of books.

  9. #9
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    Please tell us more about your process to cut through water. Did you have to adjust the laser-nozzle-to-material height? How much more power did you have to use? Any other tips and notes about your workflow would be appreciated. This sounds like an interesting technique as long as the accuracy of fine cuts is maintained and repeatability was achievable.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Doug Fisher; 07-16-2017 at 11:56 AM.
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  10. #10
    might have to try the water thing-- my microphone customer brought me 4 thicknesses of Mylar awhile back-
    .001, .0015, .0125 and .015 inch-- I've successfully cut them all in my LS900, but my only 'buffer' was to cut thru transfer tape. While they looked good, the edge melt was severe enough to render them useless for his needs. And he's after me still, to figure out another way to cut them.

    I thought of trying my vinyl cutter, but it wouldn't make it thru the thicker stuff without many passes, and there is like 8 holes in these things that are something like .045" diameter, which is a mite small for a swivel knife.

    I'll have to find a small aluminum flat bottom dish and see what happens! (wonder if distilled water would work better than tap water?)
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  11. #11
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    Or cutting with a wet paper towel on top?
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa: Master Electrician, HVAC commercial, Hobby metal Fab and Machine shop and more... , Ray Fine 20w Galvo Fiber laser , LightObject 40w CO2. MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter.

  12. #12
    Before I go underwater, I'm going to try transfer tape again, but soaking it first, then make 2 or 3 light passes... I have to wonder what power setting I'll need to take 3 passes to get thru some .001" thick Mylar?
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  13. #13
    Not sure what's causing you issues Kev. Cutting mylar is a piece of cake. Do it all the time, and extremely intricate tiny shapes, like .015" x .050" wide slots. It takes VERY little power. Like 1 or less on the power. I think I'm at .5 on the power on one of the lasers. Can't remember which one.

    Stuff cuts clean and nice. No water needed.
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  14. #14
    According to what I see, even magnified 10x, I don't see a problem, but my customer says even though they look good to me the edges of the cut have enough raised melt to interfere with their use, which is some sort of gasket for a high-end, let's say audio device... To be honest if this is the case I don't think a laser is the right tool to cut these, and I'm not sure what would be. As sort of a comparison, the .006" approx laser beam width is about 1/5 the size of the mounting holes it's cutting (plus a larger center hole and the shape cut)...
    TEN CNC rotary tool engravers, 3- V3400's, 2- V5000XT's, 1- V5000, 1- V3200, 1- IS400, 1- IS7000, 1- C2000, all New Hermes
    TWO C02 metal lasers, 1- NH LS900 40w, 1- GCC Explorer 35w
    ONE C02 glass laser, Triumph 80w
    ONE Galvo fiber laser, Triumph 30w
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  15. #15
    Just Ignore the water....no smoke.

    Also try freezing. And cutting while cold. I have thought about but not tried cutting material frozen in a thin sheet/block of ice.

    Sorry to take so long to reply.
    Chinese 6040 by NiceCut. Originally 60 Watt upgraded to 150 Watt.....I thought I had pretty much every problem in the book of laser cutting. It turns out that there is a set of books.

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