View Full Version : Cutting "vinyl" (not PVC) with a laser

Roger Lueck
06-08-2016, 10:26 PM
While reading several posts regarding cutting "vinyl", it appeared as though the terms "vinyl" and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) interchangeably. I know in their chemical makeup they are not the same materials. Much of the "vinyl" used for signs is "PVC vinyl" while "clear vinyl" is of the type used for vacuum bags (wood working), windows for boat cabin enclosures, convertible rear windows and other applications.

I am aware of the health and corrosion problems caused by the chlorine gas released when cutting "PVC vinyl" material used for signs with a laser. However, because I read several posts where it appeared the terms "vinyl" and "PVC vinyl" appeared to be used interchangeably I am not clear if the same problems caused by cutting "PVC vinyl" with a laser also occur when cutting "clear vinyl" with a laser.

The question is; "Does cutting "clear vinyl" with a laser cause the same or similar problems (health and corrosion) as cutting "PVC vinyl" with a laser?

David Somers
06-08-2016, 11:14 PM
Evening Roger!

So long as it is not PVC based you should be fine. The only reason we keep bringing PVC up (and I think I am one of the main culprits to be honest <grin>) when we hear the word vinyl is that many new laserati and not aware of that issue and we (I) want to be sure they are sure of the material they are working with.

While it may not contain PVC, it is always a good idea to do a web search on the product/material for its MSDS sheet. The manufacturer should also provide it when asked for it. Then you can see if there are any other surprises waiting for you. With the laser, live by the MSDS sheet to be safe. With those you can make intelligent and informed decisions.


Gary Hair
06-08-2016, 11:16 PM
PolyVinyl Chloride, PVC, vinyl - all are the same thing. There is no such thing as "vinyl" that doesn't contain PVC. There are plenty of people that use the word "vinyl" to describe any film type product much like "Kleenex" is used to describe facial tissue and "q-tips" are used to describe cotton swabs, but "vinyl" is pvc.

David Somers
06-08-2016, 11:25 PM
Hey Gary....just to muddy this a bit. I use a modest amount of a clear material on our boat for various things. The marine store I buy it from labels it as vinyl. I got the MSDS from them and it is clearly not a "vinyl" and has no PVC in it. So the labeling in stores is often wrong or not consistent. Which was why I was pushing the MSDS. Not contradicting you on the term Vinyl, just pointing out that it is often used carelessly. And I have seen materials that were not labeled as being vinyl in a store, but a quick look at the MSDS showed it was.


Gene Uselman
06-09-2016, 9:09 AM
There are non-pvc films for signmakers, but all of the films that I am aware of that are called vinyl are indeed pvc- including clear. The metalized (not metalic) films
are polyester- think shiny chrome or gold. Non-pvc films are coming into the market (especially for printing) but it will take a long time to make much of a penetration.

Gary Hair
06-09-2016, 9:19 AM
The marine store I buy it from labels it as vinyl. I got the MSDS from them and it is clearly not a "vinyl" and has no PVC in it.
Exactly the reason for my Kleenex analogy.

John Blazy
06-09-2016, 12:14 PM
Really interesting discussion, and very important to me right now - Thanks Roger for bringing this up. I have recently invented a laserable version of the color-changing glass that I laminate for the commercial arch market, and one of the main resins I use is EVA - Ethylene Vinyl Acetate. I would like to market this product to the high-end signage market, auto trim, etc but need to generate an MSDS for it first, in which the EVA is my main concern. From what I understand so far is that its the Chloride part of PVC or "vinyl" that is bad.

The reason I had a sigh of relief once realizing this HUGE issue for me is that when I researched EVA and Laser, it appears that EVA foam is cut all the time on lasers, and many EVA foam makers promote laser cutting with it. EVA is also the same material most sneakers are made from as well. The EVA I use is a clear resin, not exactly the same but definitely is EVA, and not PVC - as far as I know NOW. But need to research this much further.

I am anxious to hear more posts to this thread from those that know more.

Dave Sheldrake
06-09-2016, 4:46 PM
It's the Chloride that causes the problem not the vinyl component. Same with Fluorine based plastics... (you think PVC is bad, try that stuff, fluorine hates and reacts with just about everything)

John Bion
06-10-2016, 2:39 AM
I have been using “vinyl” from Grafityp that has no chlorine. I have no connection to Grafityp so I hope it is OK to put a link here to their product as an example : grafityp dot co dot uk slash Eco%20Friendly%20Sign%20Making%20Films dot html

Dave Sheldrake
06-10-2016, 10:01 AM
Poly vinyl acetate sheet is the same, releases CO2 and CO when burned, it's the Chloride that causes HCI to be released. The problem is the bond between the Hydrogen molecules and Chlorine molecules that makes it emit dangerous fumes when heated.