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Cutting MDF

I'm a relative new comer to laser cutting, so I'm sorry if this is a basic question, but does anyone else have problems cutting all the way through MDF?

I've been trying to cut some 3mm MDF that I bought at Bunnings, but I just can't get the laser to cut through the last millimetre of the wood.

I initially set the Emblazer to 10mm/sec at 100% and 10 passes, and it almost totally cut through the mdf, but not quite. I could see a faint burn mark on the bottom side of the wood, but the laser hadn't made it through.

I then set the machine to 20 passes, but it gave me the same result. I kept adding passes, but no matter how many I added, it wouldn't punch through the other side of the wood. The wood was completely cut, but the papery laminate on the flip side seemed to be untouched.

I then slowed it down, to 5mm/sec at 100% and 10 passes, and the same occurred. To test it, I pushed it to 30 passes, which singed the edges a lot, but the result was the same. I was able to push the cut piece through, but it ended up with a rough, torn edge on that last millimetre, which is obviously undesirable.

That last sceric of wood seems indestructible. Is this a quality of mdf? Or is there a work around?

I'd love to know if anyone has any advice on the best way to cut MDF?


  • Josh..seems like your focus still needs to be fine tuned...I can cut 3mm MDF at 10mm/sec ; approx. 6-8 passes with the 3watt laser diode and 10mm/sec ; approx. 3-5 passes with the 4watt laser diode
  • Make sure your MDF is not setting directly on anything where you're cutting, or it will dissipate the heat from the laser on the bottom surface and not break through all the way. Use something to hold the corners up so there is a space under it.
  • edited November 2015
    How are you fine tuning your focus to get that cut?

    I have used both the visual "I think that is as small as I can make it" and the listen for the sound try to make it loud as I can method. After doing this I still have not been able to cut any wood I have purchase. This includes various types of 3mm (1/8th inch ) ply and 3mm MDF. I have also set my wood up on large and small nuts as I am not sure how far off the deck it needs to be to enure the cut. The ply is tricky as it never seems to be true but MDF is true and sits flat and even.

    Which is why I have purchased the 4W laser but still waiting on its arrival.
  • Derrick, if you run ball park 300mm/min at 100% power 6 passes it should cut 3mm MDF or ply. If your machine doesn't cut with these settings then my thoughts are your focus is still not 100% correct. Focus and keeping material flat is paramount for optimum cutting.
  • Derrick,
    What is the Max Current setting you have your Emblaser board set to?
    Is it still the default 1800mA or have you increased it to 2200mA?

  • I have increased it to 2.2. Just attempted to cut at 300 mm/min @100% (2.2mA) with 3mm MDF. MDF is sitting about 3mm off base (base has been replaced with 1/2 MDF) supported by 10 small nuts put level on the board (to be cut) at various location and it looks level, Laser is set for the template distance above the material and checked at all four corners to ensure level.
    The resulting cut barely registers when I run my thumbnail across it.

    Focus looks to be the size of a pin head when I visually looks at it, and I adjust the focus knob about 1/8-1/16th a turn then move the template to listen to the noise from the anodizing. To my non-audiophile ear it seems to be at its loudest.

    Sorry to hijack your thread Joshoftheday
  • Derrick, I find the easiest way to see the dot change size is not to move the lens in small increments but to screw the lens in and out at a moderate speed whilst holding the laser button down. . That way I can see the change in the dot size much more readily. Call this coarse adjustment. Once I see the dot change (get sharper) I then use small increment changes to give me optimum focus. Fine adjustment.
  • That is what I did. I did the "Course adjustments to get the Focus down to the size of a pin. When there I did small adjustments while listening to the anodizing of the template to get the highest sound. i read in a previous thread that that was a great way to fine tune it.

    I am doing something wrong If I can't get even close to your result. Which is why I asked what you were doing to get your focus so good.

    It just seems so, I don't know, luck based. Reading the difference in peoples experiences with there focus leaves one some what frustrated when you are one of the people that can't seem to get the focus right when following the steps.

    I just hope I don't have the same issue after putting down $300 dollars for the 4W.
  • Created a support ticket for you Derrick.
  • This is all really helpful for me Derrick.

    I've been working through different suggestions made in this thread, and still no luck.

    The only thing I haven't tried is the incremental laser focusing technique mentioned above, and will try to get that done on the weekend.

    If anyone else has any suggestions, I would appreciate them. I'm sure it's something small and fiddly that I'm doing wrong.
  • Josh,
    Let us know how you get on and if you are still finding you are having difficulties please submit a support ticket on out help centre.
  • Thanks Darkly!
  • Managed to cut 3mm MDF tonight with the 4w unit using laser at max power on main unit with 100 pwr, 400mm/min and 6 passes. I found 4 wasn't quite enough :) will be posting pics tomorrow.
  • Just got my unit going, great unit thanks heaps just finding it hard also to cut 3mm MDF, it take 25 passes on 10mm/sec. Have played with the focus several times and got it right down to a pin prick. I have upped the power to 2200mA with the same result.

    Anything else I can try?
  • Here is my video of cutting 3mm MDF using the 4 watt unit, different MDF seems to work differently on the laser. Interesting on this cut the first time I put the laser to close to the material and the guard was touching it and causing it to move.

    Can't comment on the 3 watt unit as haven't used it.

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