Plywood

Information, tricks, know-how, and advice to help you laser cut your model in our Plywood material.

Colors

EU Catalogue

US Catalogue

Thicknesses

  • (mm)
  • 2
  • 3
  • 5
  • (inches)
  • 1/8

Characteristics

Surface Look
Details
Strength
Flexibility

Plywood Material Guide

Description

Plywood consists of several sheets of wood, glued one on top of another, alternating the wood grain on adjacent layers. Assembled around a central plate, there is always an odd number of plies.

These two features give Plywood the following properties that are appreciated by cabinetmakers, builders, designers, artists, craftsmen: mechanical resistance (structures, buildings), flexibility (furniture), aesthetic beauty, water resistance, and lightness.

Plywood and laser cutting go hand-in-hand. Laser cutting is precise and allows you to draw extremely fine curves. Engraving on plywood, possible with a laser cutting machine, allows for photo rendering or high-definition printing. The laser makes sharp, clear cuts, so no finishing work is necessary.

Applications

Plywood is characterized by its durability. It is flexible at the same time because it is created from separate plies. You can use it for building, furniture, etc. However, the thickness of the plywood may make laser cutting difficult, so we have to be careful.

The use of plywood in laser cutting is especially popular with arts and crafts. Cutting is done without any wear, it’s dust-free, and it’s precise. Perfect finishes without any post-production operation facilitate and encourage its use. The slight oxidation (browning) of the cutting edges even gives the object a certain aesthetic.

Pricing​

Your price for laser cutting and engraving is automatically calculated when you put your vector file online on our website. It is calculated interactively and depends on some factors, such as the amount of material used, the machine time needed to cut or engrave it, and logistics costs. You can see it change in real time as you make modifications to your vector file. To get the price of your item in just a few clicks, you just have to log in and upload your vector file.

For laser cutting, we have two different catalogs: one for the materials we produce in our factory in France, and one for the ones we produce in our factory in the United States. According to whether you choose materials in either or both of those catalogs, your shipping time and cost will be modified.The time for cutting and engraving is approximately 2 working days for Acrylics produced in France, and 4 working days when it’s produced in the US. An additional period of 24 to 48 hours may be necessary depending on the size of your vector file. Based on the details of your engraving, the operation may take some time. The final time period is given on our website when you place your order.

Delivery time is added to the laser cutting and engraving time and depends on the delivery method you choose, on whether you order from the French or American catalog and on where you are located.

Process

Laser Cutting:

Laser cutting involves cutting the material with a powerful and precise laser, which focuses on a small area of material and can cut a thickness of up to 15 mm. There are various laser sources that can be pulsed or continuous. Cut pieces are not deformed, because the laser’s HAZ (or heat-affected zone) on the plywood is low (approximately 0.5 mm).

At Sculpteo, we use 100W, CO2 laser cutters, because they allow us to cut all types of materials at a faster rate than pulsed laser cutters. 

Laser engraving:

Laser engraving is a subtractive method of manufacturing, which is based on the use of a laser beam to alter the surface of an object. This process allows you to create images visible to the naked eye on the object. The laser emits a fairly high degree of heat to pulverize the material, thus creating cavities that form the final image. It is a quick method, as the material is removed with each laser pulse.

Finishings

To glue two plywood planks to each other, you can use wood glue or another type (PPU, Epoxy). Whatever type of glue you use, you should put the wood under pressure (a clamp or wood facing).

It is easy to paint plywood. After preparing it with primer, you can use acrylic paint, which dries quickly. The acrylic paint should be thorough enough to fill the wood’s pores. If you want to paint details, the wood ridges may be a disadvantage. 

Laser cuts and engraves material by burning its surface. Therefore, the sides of the piece tend to be darkened, and are marked slightly on the edges. Sometimes, marks appear on the cutting line. The sides of the part cut in Plywood might stain skin or clothes, as a thin layer of black wood powder remains on the part.

When burning the surface, the laser also leaves a kerf of a width that can vary, depending on the type of material and the thickness chosen. 

When designing your project, you need to take this kerf into account and plan for a surplus of material accordingly.

The following chart lists the kerf sizes for Plywood in the function of the thickness.

In our European catalog:

Thickness of Plywood (mm)235
Width of the kerf (mm): Poplar0.1250.135
Width of the kerf (mm): Okoumé0.1150.125
Width of the kerf (mm): Ceiba Wood0.2

In our American catalog:

Thickness of Plywood (in)1/8
Width of the kerf (in): Maple0.0015
Width of the kerf (in): Baltic Birch0.0066

About the laser’s precision and its effect on the material, you also need to keep in mind that your object might get some burning stains on their inner side.

In our European catalog:

Minimum dimension (mm)15 x 15
Maximum dimension (Okoumé and Poplar) (mm)940 x 590
Maximum dimension (Ceiba Wood) (mm)800 x 585

In our American catalog:

Minimum dimension (in)0.59 x 0.59
Maximum dimension (in)32 x 18

In our European catalog: 

Thickness of Plywood (mm)235
Minimum distance between two paths (mm)235

In our American catalog:

Thickness of Plywood (in)1/8
Minimum distance between two paths (in)1/8

For laser engraving, the laser will contour each letter, which will “bolden” the font. Therefore, when you conceive your vector file, you need to:

  • Give priority to narrow fonts
  • Space the letters
  • Not write your texts too small (2mm minimum)

For laser cutting, it is key to take the kerf into account when designing your text. The texts must be treated like shapes: they must be vectorized and respect the same rules as every other shape.

LASER CUTTING TEXT

We offer two types of laser engraving:

  • Line engraving: ideal to engrave a contour. It’s the same operation as cutting, with less power. For this type of engraving, use our cutting tips when designing your file. On our website, only one line engraving level is available.
  • Surface engraving (also known as infill engraving): For this type of engraving, the outline of your design must absolutely be closed. We offer two levels of surface engraving depth: superficial or deep. With the superficial level, the cut can barely be felt by touch, whereas it is noticeable at a deep level.

Make sure you incorporate different colors in your vector design, according to whether you want a cut, an engraving line or a surface engraving.

laser engraving plywood

Is it possible to assemble your parts?Yes
Minimum space required for assemblyDepends on the kerf

laser cutting restrictions

If you wish to make Plywood pieces fit into each other and make sure they’ll stay connected, we recommend that you add in nodes. Nodes are small bumps situated in a piece’s slots or tabs, that allow compensating the thickness variations of the material and the kerf. Nodes get compressed when the pieces are assembled and they concentrate the friction on specific points rather than on the slot’s whole surface. This way, the slots can be larger without coming apart, allowing the pieces to stay together.

nodes

On top of the nodes, it is important to adequately treat the end of the slots. Sharp angles are a weak point for plywood, and will always fracture at the corner, where efforts get concentrated. A solution to this issue is to add a hole at the corner of each sharp angle. This technique allows for distributing the stress across the whole surface of the hole instead of just one precise point.

Files with Multiple Objects ?No


Ready to laser cut with Plywood?

With Sculpteo’s online laser cutting service you’re just a few clicks away from professional Plywood laser cutting. Your model is cut with the highest quality and delivered straight to your door. 

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