POM for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving
Here you will find all the information, tricks, know-how, and advice to help you laser cut and laser engrave your model in our POM material. You will learn about:
- Our POM material & laser cutting/engraving techniques
- Colors and Sizing
- Design Guidelines
- Technical Specifications
General information on our material
Our POM Material
POM (Polyoxymethylene) is an engineering thermoplastic, that is recognised for its mechanical properties: it is particularly resistant and has excellent dimensional stability. POM is sometime called Acetal or Delrin.
At Sculpteo, we use rectangle sheets of copolymer, a derived version of the original material that preserve its characteristics and allows us to propose the material at better prices.
This material has a smooth glass-like shiny surface with a moderately opaque white color. It is not designed for aspect, but for technical properties (for example, for internal technical parts). To learn more, refer to our paragraph about uses and maintenance for the POM material.
Please take a note that laser cuts the thermoplastic under a slight angle which may be visible on thicker parts.
Processing Times and Pricing for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving
The price of manufacturing your POM design is calculated automatically at the moment your order is placed online. As you modify your object and utilize our optimization tools, you will note that the price changes automatically. The pricing is based on a series of factors, including: quantity of material used, labor required, and machine manufacturing time - to name a few.
Laser cutting has a quicker manufacturing time when compared to laser engraving. Your object is estimated to arrive in 2 business days. Engraving and particularly large objects can extend the processing time by 1-2 days on average. The estimated shipping time is also calculated automatically as the object is uploaded. An additional delay can ensue depending on availability. More information can be found in the section about colors and sizing.
Delivery time should be added to the processing time and depends on the delivery option you choose .
Laser cutting technique
Laser Cutting is a digital subtractive fabrication technique that consists of cutting or engraving a material by means of a laser. Laser Cutting can be used on a number of materials such as plastic, wood, cardboard, etc. The process involves cutting material using a powerful and highly accurate laser that focuses on a small area of the material. The high power density results in rapid heating, melting and partial or complete vaporizing of the material. Usually, a computer directs the high-power laser at the material and traces the path.
Laser Engraving Techniques
Laser Engraving (or Laser Etching) is a subtractive manufacturing method, that uses a laser beam to change the surface of an object. This process is mostly used to create images on the material that may be seen at eye level. To do so, the laser creates high heat that will vaporize the matter, thus exposing cavities that will form the final image. This method is quick, as the material is removed with each pulse of the laser. It can be use on almost any kind of metal, plastic, wood, leather or glass surface.
Uses and Maintenance
POM is a material that has several benefits, both on its ease of use and on its durability. The technical properties of POM can vary depending on the thickness but it's always very resistant and has an incredible geometrical stability.
When it comes to shrinkage and tolerance. Our POM material can light up when exposed to LED lights, and is very resistant to crazing and cracking.
When cutting, POM is not subject to any deformation and its smooth surface allows for a perfect cut to be easily achieved. Moreover, POM is weatherproof , waterproof and resistant to many solvent .
All of these characteristics make it ideal for technical parts, in particular parts that will have to endure large amounts of strain and friction. All our POM is impact-resistant and half the weight of glass, it is also very easy to work with and can be sawed, drilled, routed, silk-screened, and formed. Our POM is a great material for internal parts for your projects and industry tooling and spare parts. This makes it very different from our other polymeric material for laser cutting, acrylic , which is a lot less resistant.
However, POM is not ideal for aspect products as its surface is not covered by a plastic foil during laser cutting and engraving, which means that some fine scratches and some burn marks can appear on its surface. We recommend to use it as an internal part for your project. For aspect objects, we do recommend our acrylic , which comes in many colors and thicknesses, and whose surface won't be scratched or burnt as much.
Technical POM is used for thousands of products due to its high quality, exceptional resistance, ease in processing and design flexibility. From automotive spare parts to gears , hinges , locks and dozens of other applications. The fact that it is waterproof means that POM c an be used in kitchens , bathrooms and for parts that need to be bathed in oil for long periods of time (typically, some motor parts).
POM is easy to maintain . To clean your POM laser cut or laser engraved parts, simply use a mild soap and lukewarm water mixture with a clean soft cloth, or you can use cleaning sprays as it is resistant to many usual solvent.
Examples of uses of carved or engraved POM:
Thickness and coloring
Thickness & Finishing Options
There are multiple thickness available through Sculpteo :
In our European Catalogue:
- 2 mm
- 3 mm
In our American Catalogue:
Our POM has a diffuse, shiny white surface which lets through roughly 30% of light.
As explained above, the surface of the material might be slightly scratched and should not be picked mostly for aspect rendering.
As POM is resistant to most common solvent, you can clean it with acetone.
Our POM material is available in white, or black.
Paint and glue your POM parts and creation
POM is a material that lends itself to different types of operations but it cannot be painted or glued easily. Surface must be prepared and sanded in order to let the paint or glue stick to the slippy surface of the POM.
It can however be sawed, drilled, routed, decorated, silk-screened, and formed.
Laser Precision for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving
When designing your project, you need to take this kerf into account, and plan for a surplus of material accordingly.
This table shows you the value of the kerf for each thickness:
|Thickness of POM (mm)||2||3||5|
|Width of the kerf (mm)||0,065||0,075||0,075|
|Thickness of POM (in)||1/8|
|Width of the kerf (in)||0,00393|
Maximum and minimum dimensions for cuts and engraving
|Minimum dimension||15 x 15 mm / 0.59 x 0.59 in|
|Maximum dimension||480 x 940 mm / 18.89 x 37 in|
The maximum size of your designs is limited by the dimensions of the machine's cutting table. Your designs must abide by the measures below in order to be cut/engraved by our machines.
Minimal dimensions may be necessary for laser cutting, but not for engraving. When you load your design onto our website in order to have it cut, we can't detect, based only on the information contained in the file, whether you wish to keep the outer or inner surface. Therefore, if you wish to keep the inner surface, you must respect minimal dimensions. Indeed, if the surface is too small, it could be lost under the cutting table's grid. If you wish to keep only the outer surface, this constraint does not apply.
Be very careful to respect the minimum size of 15x15 mm: objects of this size are all susceptible to not be delivered.
Disclaimer: due to the machine’s process, some marks and scratches may occur on your object.
Minimum distance between two cut lines for Laser Cutting
Because of the kerf created by the laser, a minimum distance is required between two cutting lines, in order to prevent the lines from touching or mixing.
|Thickness of POM (mm)||2||3||5|
|Minimum distance between two paths (mm)||2||3||5|
You can refer to our tutorial for more precision and guidance for your vector construction.
Double check the aforementioned kerf constraint and respect the minimal distance between two lines.
Prepare your texts for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving
It is possible to cut/engrave texts. These texts must be vectorized, just like all the files sent onto the website in order to be cut or engraved.
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 vectorised and respect the same rules as every other shape (see tutorial).
As for full letters (A, D, O, B...) remember to create links between the inside and the outside of the letter (see below), so that the center doesn't get detached from the rest of the letter. These links are necessary if you wish to keep the outer part of the cut (we'll call it the stencil). So that your text looks best and harmonized, you can create similar links all over the text, even on letters that don't need them.
These links are really simple to create on your own, but you can also use a font like STENCIL, in which they already exist. You'll find such fonts with a simple internet search.
To get an approximation of the kerf, you can temporarily apply a 1,2 pt thickness to your letters.
Depth of Laser Engraving
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 with the deep level.
Make sure you incorporate different colors in your vectorial design, according to whether you want a cut, an engraving line or a surface engraving.
Surface engraving requires a horizontal sweeping of the laser head, which can slow the process. Considering that manufacturing time can be an important price factor, we recommend you either choose a superficial engraving level or you limit your surface engraving to a few cm²
Piece Assembly Restrictions
|Is possible to assembly your parts ?||Yes|
|Minimum space required for assembly||Depends on the kerf|
The pieces that are cut can then be assembled. In order to do that you must plan
for a minimum space between each of the pieces to assemble.
This space must be larger if you want your pieces to be mobile.
Make sure to build your design in a way that allows space for
If you want your objects to fit into each other you must take the kerf into account, which means subtract half the size of the kerf from the blue frame's parameter, and add the other half of the kerf to the yellow square, as you can see on the sketch below:
For more information on pieces assembly, we invite you to visit our tutorial on how to prepare a model for laser cutting on Illustrator or Inkscape.
Conceiving nodes in order to lock pieces together
If you wish to make POM 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 to compensate 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.
In order to make sure the pieces stay fixed, you must place the nodes on each side of the slot opposite to one another. Depending on the length of the slot, you can place several nodes. This will minimize the tension that could potentially occur if the nods were not aligned or if one was missing. They must be smooth and long enough to ease the interlocking. Depending on the material’s density, the nodes’ width may be increased or decreased. The higher the material’s density, the smaller the nodes’ width should be.
Files with multiple objects
|Files with Multiple Objects ?||Yes|
It is possible to cut or engrave several objects designed in the same vector file, by attributing one different color for each action, as indicated on the tutorial how to upload and prepare your 2D file.
Technical specifications of POM
|Density||ISO 1183||g/cm3||1.38 to 1.44|
|Swelling (24 hours)||ISO R 62/DIN53495||%||0.10 to 0.79|
|Tensile Strength 23°C (Elasticity)||ISO 527-2||Psi||
6490 to 9880
|Tensile Strength 23°C (Break)||ISO 527-2||Psi||4940 to 9600|
|Bending Strength||ISO 178||Psi||7140 à 13100|
|Internal Bond||ISO 604||Psi||2760 à 9760|
To learn more about POM technical specifications, refer to the following documents:
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