Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. One of the benefits of our wide skill set and strange collection of projects is that we are very familiar with a wide array of materials, techniques and technologies. This leaves us well suited to constructing models, mockups and functional prototypes. All aspects of these projects, including the initial consult, are considered to be strictly confidential. These services fall under our Design/Prototype services and currently bill at $125/hr.
The largest area we can cut or engrave in a single pass is 48″ x 96″.
We regularly do one-off pieces. Our sweet spot for work done in-house is generally 1-500 pieces, though it varies based on the size and complexity of the work. Higher quantities may be done in-house or through one of our production partners depending on timeline and budget.
Laser cutting cost is heavily dependent on cut complexity. Cutting a 3″x4″ rectangle will be very fast, while cutting 100 little stars in that same space will take a while. An accurate quote needs to reflect that difference, so in order to generate one, we need to see the artwork. Similarly, if the artwork changes dramatically between our quote and the final design, it may change the cost.
For laser cutting, we need vector artwork. We primarily work in Adobe Illustrator, so .ai or .pdf are preferred. We also support .eps, .svg and .dxf. If you are unable to provide vector art, we can generate it from a high contrast black and white image. This service is billed at an hourly rate.
For laser engraving, vector art will provide the sharpest result, but we can also use raster images. In addition to the vector and hybrid file formats above, raster files may be .jpg, .png, .bmp, and .tif.
Turnaround time depends on what the job requires in terms of preparation and laser time. But most jobs of 100 pieces or less can be done in 5-10 business days. If we are busy on other jobs, we will notify you in advance. We work to try to accomodate rush jobs, but if it requires interrupting or displacing other jobs on the schedule, we reserve the right to add a rush fee.
Yes! We have a camera registration system that allows us to accurately align to pre-printed content. The requirement is that you print special marks on the sheet along with your print job. Without these marks, the cuts may not align well to the print and it will cost more and take longer for us to do the registration manually. Please contact us well in advance of the job going to press. We can offer design feedback and instructions to make sure your laser cutting job is successful.
Laser cutting metal is a highly specialized application requiring equipment that wouldn’t be well suited to the wide array of other materials we use. Fortunately, metal often isn’t the ideal or most cost effective solution for many projects. Contact one of our engineers to see if another material might meet your needs.
We can cut any paper, though some papers will cut better than others. We recommend you provide samples to us for testing in advance so you know what to expect (at no charge). Many papers will show slight discoloration along the cut edge, some experience significant depositing of ash along the cut (Mohawk Superfine is particularly bad about this). This can almost always be prevented by applying a masking film to the sheet prior to cutting and removing it after, but this carries an additional cost in materials and labor so it’s generally best to try to select a paper stock that doesn’t require this extra step. In general, lighter colored stocks are more likely to mark on at least one side of the sheet. Metallic paper stocks show almost no marking at all. High gloss sheets such as Mirri, Curious Cosmic, and Krome Kote will almost always require masking.
We can cut all woods up to 1″ thickness. Typically the edge will be dark or black in color and may transfer soot to your hands if it’s not cleaned and sealed afterwards. Some woods cut more cleanly than others. In some cases, variations in wood density both in solid- and ply-woods may lead to spots where the laser doesn’t cut through completely, requiring manual cleanup or.
The best plastic for laser cutting is acrylic. We can easily cut up to 1″ acrylic. We can also cut acrylic mirror and most other film applied acrylics. We can cut most other plastics, rubbers, and silicones with varying degrees of quality. There are some limitations: (1) Any plastic that contains chlorine cannot be laser cut without damage to the equipment. The most common examples are PVC and vinyls (Note: not everything identifying as PVC or vinyl actually is. Some are actually Polyethelenes or other materials that can be cut safely. We can do a burn test for chlorine.) (2) Polycarbonate (aka Lexan) releases a nasty yellow liquid during laser cutting. For that reason, we typically avoid cutting it. We will do it in special cases, but will assess an additional fee for cleaning the laser afterwards.
The most readily available colors can be viewed in our Flickr album. Each sample was photographed with two steel balls, one in front of the sample, and one behind. This allows you to see the relative transparency of each color. All of these colors are available in 1/8″ (3mm) and 1/4″ (6mm) thicknesses. In 1/2″ (12mm) thickness, only clear, black and white are available. Depending on your needs, we can glue layers of 1/4″ to get 1/2″ in a particular color, but a seam may show.
We can order specialty materials from numerous vendors, allowing for a broad range of finishes and textures. Contact us for more information.
We can cut all leathers and any fabric except those containing PVC or vinyl. Leathers vary tremendously depending on animal type, tanning and dyeing processes. As a result, we recommend having us test a sample in advance (at no charge). Natural fiber fabrics will cut well, with some minor discoloration along the edge. Synthetic fibers will cut and seal the edges. Note that this may interfere with the stretchability of elastic and stretch knit fabrics along the edge. Again, we are happy to test this for you.
Fabrics are typically tacked down with spray adhesive for cutting, particularly if you want to retain small cut parts. Depending on the material, this may incur a mounting fee.