View Full Version : Laser cutting & Tacky glue?

Amanda Davis
11-19-2010, 4:52 PM
Hi all. I want to start off by saying I have been browsing this community for a year or two now and am so impressed & inspired by the knowledge everyone seems to possess. I am a youngin' who is pretty new to the lasering world and have so much to learn. Much respect to everyone here!

With that being said, I apologize if my question is so amateur that it's laughable. :(
I have been google searching and also looking through the forums here but can't seem to find the answers I need.

I am familiar with cutting both acrylic sheets & leather (with my Epilog Mini 45w) but am wondering if I can decrease production time by using a simple tacky glue to adhere leather straight to the acrylic sheet, smooth it out, and then laser cut a shape.
It seems great in theory but I'm afraid there could be a reaction between the glue & the laser that ruins my machine.

Am I better off cutting each material separately and adhering them by hand?

Thanks for any advice :)

Frank Corker
11-19-2010, 5:12 PM
Amanda I wouldn't be tempted to try it, obviously it can be done, but the result could easily be a huge mess. Acrylic is usually cut at 5000 frequency. That means the laser pulses at that, it's almost continuous concentrated laser power. Leather is cut at 500 frequency. If you cut leather at 5000 the tendency is for the leather to burn or crisp up. Best way to find out, give it a whirl, just watch for flaming. Certain glues are quite flammable and I would suggest that the type of glue that would bond these two materials together are exactly that. That would probably be your biggest danger, fire.

David Fairfield
11-19-2010, 7:00 PM
What Frank said, plus I don't really think it would save a lot of laser time. The additional strata of leather will need additional power or decreased speed, maybe both. Either way doesn't help you much, unless you can live with some scortched looking leather. I expect the finished product will smell pretty bad for a while, too.

Pre-gluing layers is useful if you have complicated shapes that might be difficult to align after cutting. I haven't found PVA / White glues to offer much resistance to the laser, or cause a reaction, I use a number of different types. But you must always be on the alert for fire, glue or no glue.


Larry Bratton
11-19-2010, 7:30 PM
I would nix that one also. You will end up with a mess. If you do try it, I hope you have good exhaust.

Joe Pelonio
11-19-2010, 9:47 PM
Even if you don't do it that way, you need good ventilation to cut leather, or your shop will smell like branding time at the stockyards.

If the shapes are simple, it may be easier and faster to laser cut the acrylic, then glue on leather scissor cut slightly larger, turn over and use the acrylic as a guide to trim the leather with a sharp xacto or Olfa knife.

Another option is the same until the gluing, the place the acrylic back into the original piece it was cut from and then cut the leather on the laser. You just have to be really careful not to move the material and use the same cut file from the acrylic but with the leather settings.

Dan Hintz
11-20-2010, 7:21 AM
This also sounds like a good use for a waterjet... minimal kerf, clean line through both materials, etc.

paul mott
11-20-2010, 8:27 AM

I think Amanda is asking advice regarding the laser.

Buying a water jet is a bit OTT :D


Martin Boekers
11-20-2010, 9:40 AM
You may try this;

first cut the acrylic, then glue the leather to it,
replace the piece in the same position, set the
laser to cut the leather.

Don't change focus as that may cause a misregistration.

I do this with acrylic and felt. That way you
can set the laser for each material.

Still take an extra step, but it's better than
cutting each then glueing together


Doug Griffith
11-20-2010, 11:51 AM
I would probably laser both separately at their optimum settings. Then I'd build a female gluing fixture using the perimeter of the acrylic (or Delrin if it is a repetitive job - glue doesn't easily stick to it). From there, I'd drop the leather into the fixture cavity. Apply adhesive to the acrylic. Then drop the acrylic with the adhesive side down into the fixture cavity.

Amanda Davis
11-20-2010, 12:55 PM
Thanks so much everyone for the replies!

I should have mentioned this in my original post but I need to make 200 pieces for a large retail company by 12/1, so cutting down time spent on hand assembly is pretty important at this point.

One of the shapes is moderately detailed but I am going to try most of the suggestions given to see what works best. (Aside from the waterjet, which I oh so dearly wish I owned/had access to :D )