View Full Version : Makrofol / Thin Polycarbonate

Steffen Heidemann
06-02-2010, 1:02 PM

does anyone has experience with a material called Makrofol? It is a thin (0.25mm - 0,75mm) polycarbonate.


I am looking for a thin plastic that could act as a light-diffusion filter.

I looked up some threads about polycarbonates, cutting often lead to undesired effects. But almost all the time thicker sheets had been cut.

I tried polystyrene and polypropylene so far. Polystyrene cuts nicely, but tends to deform when exposed with too much 'passive' heat afterwards (light-bulbs) - also it is very opaque. Polypropylene tends to remelt while cutting and leaves bad edges.

Would/could a thin (about 0.375mm) polycarbonate cut nicely? Any ideas for another substitude?

A lot of brands possibly useful for the purpose are made out of PVC, unfortunately.

Help is greatly appreciated. Thanks,


Doug Griffith
06-02-2010, 3:06 PM
PETG is very clear, cuts OK, and might be an option but it doesn't take passive heat well.

I've never cut PC that cut without the edges melting.

Steffen Heidemann
06-02-2010, 6:17 PM
PETG seems to weaken to early with heat (concerning a fact sheet). Thanks for the suggestion though and the hint that it cuts OK.

I did a search for plastic processing companys utilizing a co2 laser and PS, PC, PETG all turn up frequently. How well do they actually cut it?

As mentioned i tried PS - with several repeated cuts at low power levels it cuts nicely. It doesn't take much heat afterwards i am afraid.

PP is a nightmare to cut for me so far.


I am looking for a material that..

cuts nicely, creates a diffused light source, is thin (app. 0.375mm - 0,5mm), is preferably available in different colors (though clear/white/matte is a good start).

Scott Shepherd
06-02-2010, 7:05 PM
I cut some lexan today that was a thin film, it was about .015" thick. I had to mask it prior to cutting, since it smokes up the edges and turns them yellow. I mask it and it appears to work just fine. I masked the front and back with transfer tape.

Joe Pelonio
06-02-2010, 9:39 PM
Most vinyl brands feature a diffuser, used often on the back of clear acrylic for backlit signs, so the tubes are not showing through the graphics as brighter. You can apply it to whatever your clear material is after laser cutting so you don't have to worry about PVC. Just trim the edges with an xacto.

http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Graphics/Scotchprint/Prod-Info/Catalog/?PC_7_RJH9U5230GE3E02LECIE20S7M3_nid=RZ83KSFCR5beB RW8MHB64Dgl

Steffen Heidemann
06-03-2010, 5:07 AM
Manually xacto-ing the material in a second step is not an option unfortunately - the outline is rather complex.

And there is still the question for the carrier material.
Maybe thin PC is the only option?

Thanks for the comment, Scott. .015" is almost exactly the thickness i have in mind.

Btw: Is Polyester a material suitable for cutting?

Steffen Heidemann
06-08-2010, 10:38 AM

Got some of the above mentioned foil today. Looked great, but.. :((

Cutting results are not great thought. A lot of smokey edges.. I used masking tape to protect the top and bottom surface, but the edges are 'dirty'.

Can someone recommend any settings? I tried minimal power with several passes.. Is it at all possible to cut Polycarbonate (really/exceptionally) well?

Also, if anyone has a suggestion for a laser-cuttable light diffusing foil/plastic.. i'd be very glad to know..!

Best + thanks,

Rodne Gold
06-08-2010, 10:49 AM
What is your exact application?
What about vellum ?

Steffen Heidemann
06-08-2010, 11:29 AM
Thanks for asking , Rodne.

I have light source / bulb i need to diffuse. The material i need to apply in front of it needs to diffuse the light in an even manner, needs to be translucent in a way that it still lets enough light pass through, needs to withstand the amount of heat an (energy saving) bulb, 23W/120W, creates.

In short, a lampshade. Just that the final thing will be much more interesting :)

Vellum. Interesting, thanks. Does it withstand heat, is it translucent and suitable for laser cutting? A quick google lookup showed some lampshades made out of it?

I only tried a few non-plastic materials so far. Translucent/tracing paper e.g. but it does not stand heat very well.

Rodne Gold
06-08-2010, 12:01 PM
An energy saving 23 w bulb puts out almost no heat - you can touch it quite comfortably , use a yellowish one , not that cool white , to get a much warmer effect.
Vellum is transluscent , can be laser cut , comes in various shades and thicknesses and will withstand a CF bulbs heat. I used to use it for exposing screens for silkscreening.
Heres a pic of a lamp in my house , I made it out of vellum and some other stuff , all laser cut , it uses 2 x 15 w CFLs , you will see the difference tween the 2 colours of CFLs , one pic is taken with a flash while the lamp is lit , the other just lit and no flash

Steffen Heidemann
06-08-2010, 1:03 PM
Thanks, extraordinary!

Currently i only find a soucre that offers it in a thin 'grammage' (is that the right expression?). But i also read that it is heavily glued which i guess makes it potenially stronger anyways?

Best + thanks again!

Steffen Heidemann
06-08-2010, 1:13 PM
quick add: 75 g/mē to be exact for the vellum i found so far. is that strong for vellum? usually i'd say around 300gsm is a medium/heavy paper.

Dan Hintz
06-08-2010, 2:10 PM
Your standard A4 page (8.5 x 11) is roughly 80 g/mē. In the US, that's roughly a 20# page, so the vellum is roughly the same weight as a typical piece of copy paper. Unless you intend to support it somehow (via struts, creative folding, etc.) or the design is relatively small (like a single 8.5 x 11 piece), I would go for something heavier for extra support.

Rodne Gold
06-08-2010, 2:13 PM
I got quite a thick vellum and cut a long strip - it was too big to go in the laser at almost 1.7m , but what I did was split the design of the holes you can see at the top to the same thing mirrored a the bottom , I then glued a sort of fine burlap/fabric on it and laser cut the holes (the centre section has no holes) and used a grommet tool and metal eyelets to define a few of the holes (I have a laser that can pass long stuff thru it , so it wasnt too difficult to process the length)
I made a lot of grommeted/eyelet holes running down the sides of the long piece.
The centre section is cut out of faux suede , on the laser. The middle circle is just a darker suede and the small lit circle in the middle of that is a resin cast to look like amber.
I turned 2 thickish discs out of wood for the top and bottom and made 2 thin hoops put of wire. The long section is wrapped around the hoops and the top and bottom wood disc and is laced up like a shoe at the back using a thong passing thru the grommeted holes on the side. I havent shown that in the pics.
To give the thing extra stiffness once wrapped , before glueing on the suede pieces , I used a doping laquer (the same type of thing you used to make balsa and tissue paper model aeroplanes that made the tissue stiff) This made the tube structure pretty stiff.
You could do a very similar thing for your lampshades - add fabrics etc to the vellum and so on.

Steffen Heidemann
06-08-2010, 2:55 PM
Thanks for the responses.

How about thicker sheets/a stronger gsm? Is there a quality that is around 300gsm?

ps. if another idea for a plastic comes up, i'd still be glad to know as well.. PET doesn't take heat that well, does it?