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I'm brainstorming a new project with my wife and was wondering what type of laser I could use to cut multiple layers of fabric?

F.Y.I. I'm a total noob when it comes to lasers and integrated electronics.

Update

  • The laser would be mounted on something that moves it on the x and y axis.

  • I want to cut through stacked layers of fabric.

  • I want to build a machine to cut out patterns on fabric to make cloths and what not.

P.S. You should really let new users create tags. I wanted to tag this question "lasers" and couldn't.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this would work out well...aren't most fabrics flammable? Seems like 'cutting' fabric with a laser would burn/singe the edges of the fabric, which is probably not what you want. \$\endgroup\$ – davr Nov 7 '09 at 0:40
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I built a home made CO2 laser that would work. It's only 40 Watts but it can cut through thin plywood, luon, basla, and fabric as well.It can also score granite marble etc. I had an old pair of jeans I cut the legs off with the laser to make a pair of shorts. It worked ok, but this is before I had a XY table so I had to move the jeans by hand. (dangerous!) The trick is to focus the beam to a very small spot. At that point its soo hot (>3000 F) that the fabric just vaporizes and there is no chance for it to singe or catch on fire especially if the beam is traveling. I am just finishing an XY table with a flying beam design to go with the laser. It's controlled by a AVR microcontoller that talks to a PC through a serial port, and will interpret standard "NC G-Codes". Then I can play with cutting patterns in all sorts of things. A YAG laser might work too and there is a lot less plumbing. If your intrested go to sams laser faq http://repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm and you will find more information about building fixing using lasers than you ever tought. Also you can post to ALT.LASERS Just BE CAREFUL if you want to do this, lasers and their equipment can put a real hurting on you. And remember "Don't stare into the beam with the remaining eye!"

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That definitely sounds like a CNC laser cutter. I'm afraid I don't know about the specifics. They can be used to cut wood, paper, cardboard and composite, so it seems reasonable that they could be used on fabric.

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There are a variety of manufacturers who make laser cutters that would work well for cutting fabric. One of the most well known is Epilog. You can also try putting one together yourself. Although, if you want to cut stacked fabric, you are looking at a quite complicated project. Here are a couple of links that might help. On the low and simple end http://www.instructables.com/id/Laser-cutter-start-slicing-stuff-for-under-50-dol/

On the high complicated and expensive end http://www.instructables.com/id/SXX5616F18DW8Q7/

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Cutting a single layer of lightweight fabric should be easy at 20 watts. Cutting stacked fabric will take significantly more since the focal point of the laser won't be optimum for all the layers. Still, fabric is easy to cut, so a 60 watt or so should be able to handle it.

There are people with laser cutters all over the place - poke around in your local maker hotspots, or ask on makezine.com to find someone that is willing to do some tests for you. You may even find someone willing to do the laser cutting for you much more economically than you could build/buy a machine for yourself, at least to do a proof of concept, and get enough business to decide whether the machine investment is worth it.

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