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Laser power for thin aluminum? Answered

Here's a question for you laser cnc builders out there, how much laser wattage would you need to cut really thin aluminum? Like, only slightly thicker than grocery store aluminum foil. Very thin. This cnc machine would be used to cut custom theatrical gobos (GOes Before Optics) at home. Normally, when we need a new gobo design, we build one in Adobe Illustrator and send off the design to Rosco or some other professional cutting company. But this can get pricy, and can take up to a week, so if one gets messed up during tech week (they do sometimes) we have to cut a new one out by hand. The results are not spectacular.

The gobo doesn't have to be mechanically strong, and they don't warp inside of a 525w fixture due to the cool beam. You could in fact use foil, but that's a little too thin to be useful.

Any guidance would be appreciated.


Etch 'em. Get the photoresist spray that's used to make PCBs. Make artwork on a laser printer, expose to UV, then etch in Caustic soda /lye.


You need close to a kW to do it.


Try it. Aluminium is incredibly conductive - Rick gets away with it, because silvering is a lot thinner than foil - 20X thinner probably.


Well, I suppose I could use a different metal, it doesn't have to be aluminum.

A kilowatt laser? This isn't 1/4" steel. It's barely thicker than foil.

We used to cut the silvering on the back of mirrors easily with a 40 watt laser cutter.

You can burn holes in foil with a 12V stylus (years since I did that)