View Full Version : Pvc

mike wallis
06-14-2004, 9:03 PM
I was wondering if there is a easy way to tell if there is the "Laser deadly" PVC in a materal. I got some clear Acrilic for Lowes and wanted to be sure that it didn't contain any PVC.

Thanks for any info,

Dennis Peacock
06-14-2004, 10:24 PM
Huh? Laser deadly PVC? Please enlighten me a little more. :confused:

mike wallis
06-14-2004, 10:41 PM
Hi Dennis,
Although I don't know the effects it has on the machine, i've read many times that PVC is a big no no for lasers. Not only will it harm the machine there's also the health issues.


"Woords of wizdom hire"

Dennis Peacock
06-15-2004, 12:06 AM
Gotcha Mike. I understand your question better now. Sorry for the million questions. ;)

Keith Outten
06-15-2004, 7:09 AM
When PVC materials burn they give off a deadly gas that also happens to be corrosive. Engraving PVC will void your warranty and in a short period of time eat the metalic components.

Mike, I wish I knew the answer to your question. I have taken great care to obtain all my engraving materials from suppliers who can prove to me the exact material makeup. Most of the time you can ask that Material Data Sheets be provided.

Mark Dickens
06-16-2004, 8:41 AM
As I understand it, when you burn PVC, it gives off chlorine gas, which when combined with moisture creates HCl, otherwise known as hydrochloric acid...Also since chlorine is in its own right poisonous, you have a double threat...I'm not a chemist, but I did stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night :p


Dave Fifield
12-10-2005, 1:51 AM
Just digging up an old thread here....trying to get to the truth. :)

In J.Steven Spencer's video "Laser Engraving", he warns that PVC will give off cyanide gas. The above says chlorine gas. Which is right? Either is bad, of course.

My money is on chlorine gas, since PVC stands for poly-vinyl chloride.

Dave F.

James A. Wolfe
12-10-2005, 2:51 AM
PVC, when heated, releases chlorine gas which readily combines with water vapor to produce Hydrogen Chloride, commonly referred to as Hydrochloric acid gas. Both toxic and corrosive, it has no place inside your workshop or your laser. Another, potentially more dangerous byproduct of chlorine gas liberation is its tendency to form dioxens which are quite toxic and very persistant. PVC may be the greatest ecological threat currently being addressed by a number of regulatory agencies. Putting away soapbox, Jim

Dave Fifield
12-10-2005, 5:05 AM
Thanks Jim. I'm not going near the stuff. I'm going to buy my acrylic from a reputable source only (TAP Plastics probably).

Dave F.

Cecil Arnold
12-10-2005, 11:49 AM
Dave, I think there is a difference in acrylic and PVC, you might want to do a google search on both to get some idea of the chemical makeup of each. The monomers of PVC are carcinogenic at very low levels (about 50 ppm if memory serves) so James is entirely correct, it has no place near your laser.

Lee DeRaud
12-10-2005, 12:02 PM
I'm going to buy my acrylic from a reputable source only (TAP Plastics probably).(shrug) Acrylic is acrylic, whether it comes from a specialty supplier or the borg. PVC is a completely different compound.

Joe Pelonio
12-10-2005, 1:47 PM
(shrug) Acrylic is acrylic, whether it comes from a specialty supplier or the borg. PVC is a completely different compound.
I'm a big fan of Tap but Lee is right, you can by acrylic wherever you want and not worry. With other plastics the best thing is to get by e-mail (written evidence) an OK from your laser tech people, on things like polycarbonate, ABS, nylon, polystyrene, polyester etc. PVC which may be called Sintra, Komatex, Kydex etc. clearly must not go in the laser, but some other materials including vinyls may also contain some percentage of PVC, so we need to get MSDS on it and/or contact the manufacturer before using.

Dave Fifield
12-10-2005, 4:53 PM
Thanks all. I'll proceed with caution. I have some art project ideas that incorporate flourescent acrylic (and wood, of course!).

I have my laser indoors and was venting the fumes outside via a 6" muffin fan in a box then through the wall using a tumble drier vent kit. It was a nice quiet setup, but wasn't moving enough air for my liking. There was too much smell hanging around the room.

Last evening, I received my new blower unit in the mail. I think I may have gone to the other extreme. This thing blasts 914cfm and roars!! :cool: :D Methinks it's going to have to go outside in a soundproofed box.....

Back to work - I'm in the middle of engraving 60 wine glasses for a corporate Christmas party next weekend.

Dave F.

Joe Pelonio
12-10-2005, 9:25 PM
Wow, that's power. Mines about half that. Don't stand in front of the exhaust it might knock you over.

Michael McDuffie
12-11-2005, 7:04 PM
Since I'm running a 1500CFM 2HP blower on my Epilog, I figured "I'm pulling enough air to run a few vinyl items in my machine". It will pull items off the table and out to the garage.:rolleyes:

The "V" in PVC is for vinyl as in Poly Vinyl Chloride.

I am NOT pulliing enough air to run vinyl.

I had a 6" machinists rule that I kept in the cabinet. It cannot be read any longer.

So far no damage to optics but anything made of unprotected steel is trashed.

DO NOT run vinyl and it's cousins.


Jim A. Walters
12-12-2005, 12:07 AM
I have molded plastic for 25 years. My "Pocket Specs for Injection Molding" shows there is one supplier that makes an acrylic/PVC blend. The company's name is Kleerdex and the material is called Kydex.

PVC does create hydrogen cloride gas. A machine overheat once and we had to evacuate the area. The next morning, anything that was bare steel in the close proximity had a light coat of rust on it!

For what it's worth, acrylic is coded "PMMA" (Polymethyl Methacrylate) or a seldom used different chemical makeup, coded "SMMA" (Styrene Methyl Methacrylate Copolymer).

Lee DeRaud
12-12-2005, 1:25 AM
I have molded plastic for 25 years. My "Pocket Specs for Injection Molding" shows there is one supplier that makes an acrylic/PVC blend. The company's name is Kleerdex and the material is called Kydex.Kydex is used a lot for pistol holsters these days: in that formulation, it is rather soft, typically black or dark gray, and resembles ABS more than acrylic.

I haven't done a definitive search, but I've never seen or heard of a clear or transparent PVC, for whatever that's worth.

Harry Radaza
12-19-2005, 12:46 AM
Every now and then I get volume orders to cut or engrave the customers own material. A lot of it is some sort of plastic. How do I know if it is PVC or not? Is there some kind of test I can perform? Maybe drop a certain chemical and see the reaction? etc... any ideas? what is the best way to tell if a material is PVC?

Joe Pelonio
12-19-2005, 1:24 AM
Because of the potential damage to the machine and humans in the area, you cannot risk it, especially for what could be a $20-30 job. If you do not recognize it as something laserable such as acrylic, ABS, nylon, some polycarbonates, then you have to require that the customer provide the material data safety sheet on it from the manufacturer. Look for chlorides, or any warnings about corrosive gas or fatal gas from burning. Such wordin as "product is not hazardous as sold however if product is melted it may release a gas that is hazardous..." PVC is about 40% chloride and when burned releases hydrogen chloride gas which combined with water forms hydrochloric acic. Other products may contain PVC. Your laser tech people may be familiar with a product name, and tell you whether it's safe, but (probably like you) I have had people bring in materials without a label.

Joe Pelonio
12-19-2005, 1:02 PM
Funny we were just discussing this on the forum and this morning
I discover a material that could be very usefull for coaster bottoms
and other things but know one that I have found so far can tell me
whether it contains PVC or anything else nasty. The manufacturer's
MSDS link doesn't work so I e-mailed them. It's .1 thick and made from recycled tires. Probably would stink. Anyone try it before or know if
it's safe to laser cut?


Added later: I got the e-mail back, do NOT cut this stuff on the laser, it does produce hazardous gasses.