What Materials Can I Laser Engrave?

Makermade only recommends using the J Tech 2.8W laser for etching, not cutting. However, there are some very thin materials such as cardboard and paper that the M2 can laser cut. 

Here is a full list of safe and unsafe etching and cutting materials from J Tech.

*Please note that many of these materials have not been tested by Makermade.


Etching can be done on almost anything, wood, cardboard, aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, marble, stone, tile, and glass.

MaterialMax ThicknessNotesWarnings!
Many Woods
Avoid oily/resinous woods
Be very careful about cutting oily woods, or very resinous woods as they also may catch fire.
Plywood/Composite Woods
These contain glue, and may not laser cut as well as solid wood.

MDF/Engineered Woods
Engrave OnlyThese are okay to engrave but are very hard to cut with lasers. The glue in the mixture makes it very hard to cut so we recommend engraving only.

Paper, Card Stock
Cuts very well on the laser cutter, and also very quickly.

Cardboard, Carton
thickerCuts well but may catch fire.
Watch for fire.
Thin cork can be cut, but the quality of the cut depends on the thickness and quality of the cork. Engineered cork has a lot of glue in it, and may not cut as well.
Avoid cutting thicker cork (5mm). Engraves well, cuts poorly.
Cuts extremely well leaving a beautifully polished edge. Only can cut dark colors like black. Clear will not cut and light colors like white are hard or near impossible to cut. Takes a ton of passes depending on thickness and color.

Thin Polycarbonate Sheeting (<1mm)
Very thin polycarbonate can be cut, but tends to discolor badly. Extremely thin sheets (0.5mm and less) may cut with yellowed/discolored edges. Polycarbonate absorbs IR strongly, and is a poor material to use in the laser cutter.
Watch for smoking/burning
Delrin (POM)
Delrin comes in a number of shore strengths (hardness) and the harder Delrin tends to work better. Great for gears!

Kapton tape (Polyimide)
Works well, in thin sheets and strips like tape.

Works well if it’s thin. Thick mylar has a tendency to warp, bubble, and curl
Gold coated mylar will not work.
Solid Styrene
Smokes a lot when cut, but can be cut.
Keep it thin.
Depron foam
Used a lot for hobby, RC aircraft, architectural models, and toys. 1/4″ cuts nicely, with a smooth edge.
Must be constantly monitored.
Gator foam

Foam core gets burned and eaten away compared to the top and bottom hard paper shell.
Not a fantastic thing to cut, but it can be cut if watched.

They all cut well. Our lasers can be used in lace-making.
Not plastic coated or impregnated cloth!
Leather is very hard to cut, but can be if it’s thinner than a belt (call it 1/8″). Our “Advanced” laser training class covers this.
Real leather only! Not ‘pleather’ or other imitations .. they are made of PVC.
Magnetic Sheet

Cuts beautifully

NON-CHLORINE-containing rubber

Fine for cutting.
Beware chlorine-containing rubber!
Teflon (PTFE)
Cuts OK in thin sheets. See https://www.ulsinc.com/materials/teflon ; the issues listed in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymer_fume_fever should not matter because our lasers are fully vented and exhausted.

Carbon fiber mats/weave 

that has not had epoxy applied

Can be cut, very slowly. 

You must not cut carbon fiber that has been coated!! 

Coroplast (‘corrugated plastic’)
Difficult because of the vertical strips. Three passes at 80% power, 7% speed, and it will be slightly connected still at the bottom from the vertical strips.


WARNING: Because many plastics are dangerous to cut, it is important to know what kind you are planning to use. Here’s a How-To for identifying unknown plastics with a simple process.

PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leather
Emits chlorine gas when cut!
Don’t ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, causes the metal of the machine to corrode as chlorine is released and ruins the motion control system.
Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate/Lexan
Cuts very poorly, discolors, catches fire
Polycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation! This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting. It creates long stringy clouds of soot that float up, ruin the optics and mess up the machine.
Melts / Cyanide
ABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt). Cutting ABS plastic emits hydrogen cyanide, which is unsafe at any concentration.
HDPE/milk bottle plastic
Catches fire and melts
It melts. It gets gooey. It catches fire. Don’t use it.
PolyStyrene Foam
Catches fire
It catches fire quickly, burns rapidly, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!
PolyPropylene Foam
Catches fire
Like PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.
Burn / Smoke
Epoxy is an aliphatic resin, strongly cross-linked carbon chains. A CO2 laser can’t cut it, and the resulting burned mess creates toxic fumes ( like cyanide! ). Items coated in Epoxy, or cast Epoxy resins must not be used in the laser cutter. ( see Fiberglass )
Emits fumes
It’s a mix of two materials that cant’ be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)
Coated Carbon Fiber Emits noxious fumes
A mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying – but not when coated.
Any foodstuff ( such as meat, seaweed ‘nori’ sheets, cookie dough, bread, tortillas… )
The laser is not designed to cut food, and people cut things that create poisonous/noxious substances such as wood smoke and acrylic smoke.
If you want to cut foodstuffs, consider purchasing a food-only laser cutter for the space that is kept as clean as a commercial kitchen would require.
Material with Sticky Glue Backing
Coats lens, cracks lens
There are many normally laserable items such as thin wood laminates that you can purchase that become un-cuttable when the manufacturer adds a layer of peel-off glue on the bottom to attach them to surfaces. Examples include cork tiles, thin wood laminate, acrylic tiles, and paper stickers. Never cut these materials in the laser cutter if they have this backing. The glue will vaporize forming a coating on the lens that will coat it, cloud it, heat it, and then potentially crack the lens. The glue residue is worse than resin, and can’t be removed without risking damage to the lens requiring a lens replacement.

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