Cutting rubber sheet with a Diode Laser

I am still trying to find a ‘use’ for my Atomstack… It currently a toy that I am just playing with… But I would like to find a something that really helps me, so that it has a place along side my 3D printer.

I am more interesting in “functional parts” rather than cosmetic designs… I did need a specific shaped rubber seal but only had a piece of rubber foam sheet… I did a quick design and was surprised how easily and neatly it cut…

So I started to think about getting some rubber sheet… And found there are sevearl types (Neoprene, Nitrile, silicone, etc). But then I found some in my scrap box… I don’t know what it was… But it was a sheet and rubber, so i had a go.

This time it didn’t do very well… One pass lightly scored the surface… And when I did more passes I never got all the way through and gave up because I was creating some horrible looking yellow powder (ash?) on top.

So before I spend any more time, I just wanted to find out whether a diode laser can cut rubber sheet? And if so, what type of rubber to go for?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


Watch out for neoprene. A quick 'net search reveals that it contains chlorine compounds which will destroy in short order your lungs and your equipment. When I read the “yellow powder” aspect of your post, I experienced concern as the color yellow is often associated with chlorine.

Consider to use the Beilstein test to determine if a substance contains chlorine.

It involves a heavy copper wire, a propane torch and the substance in question. Heat the wire until no coloration is seen in the flame, cleaning any contaminants from it. Touch the hot wire to the item to melt/transfer some to the wire and return it to the flame. If the flame turns green, chlorine is present. I’m slightly color blind, green being the worst and I can see the green flame easily when the test item contains chlorine.

Silicone sheet will cut with a CO2 laser, not sure about diode lasers, but you can get quite thin black silicone rubber. The debris is a white powder that turns black on one’s fingers but washes easily.


Just as @fred_dot_u there said, avoid cutting anything with chlorine at all costs.
If You for some reason really, REALLY have to cut plastic or rubber compounds that release chlorine or other just as harmful gasses, make absolutely sure that You -or anyone near by- don’t inhale the fumes.

While personal health comes first, when cutting any kind of plastic or rubber, a localized fume extraction is a must.
A general fume extraction as well isn’t a bad idea either.
Otherwise the fumes will sooner or later corrode Your machine.
Even though the pcbs are often sealed with some kind of a protective coating, not all are, so the laser head is most likely the first to suffer from the corrosive fumes.

If You use air assist (as You always should when cutting or gouging to protect the lens) the extractor nozzle has to be the kind of a design that completely enclose the area to be cut or gouged.
Otherwise the air assist blows most of the fumes away from the extraction nozzle.

Generally, in engineering the application dictates what material -in this case rubber- to use, not the ease of cutting or manufacturing.
If You need something more special, You can quite easily cut a mold with a laser, and cast the rubber of Your choice with it.
Using some sort of parting wax of course unless the mold is soluble to something that the rubber isn’t.

In the past I’ve made a few gaskets using SIKA 221 that way.
The molds on those were done using conventional methods rather than with a laser though, at that time I wouldn’t have dreamed of owning a laser cutter.
To be honest, I still have a somewhat hard time believing I do :slight_smile:


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