How to cut fabric?

Hello! I am starting a clothing brand and I need to cut designs out of fabric. Can a laser cutter do this? If so is there one I can get that is less than $400?

Hi Matt,

Dificult question to answer without a bit more context.
Will depend on the materials you will want to use.
I would say though, for fabrics you are better off with CO2 vs Diodes.
(Also work area would be significant)

Are you planning to use the laser for fast prototyping? Or production?

Hi thanks for your response. I am looking for something to quickly cut shapes out of denim (jeans) fabric. I need something that will be able to cut a lot at one time and to be used for production because it takes too long to stencil and cut the fabric by hand. I’m doing this in my garage.

You gave no indication of the size of the cutouts. So saying “a lot” is hard to reply to. When you browse the advertisements, pay particular attention to work area, not machine frame size. Be prepared to spend up to $200 more for ventilation and a workstation.

Having a $400 budget means diode lasers only. You also have to realize these machines are called hobby lasers, not production machines. If what you have is a Cottage Industry, you should be able to get by with a 10w output machine. Then as the money rolls in, you can buy another bigger machine.

I started with a Sculpfun S30 Pro 10w machine, and just bought the Sculpfun SF-A9 40w/20w machine. I labeled them Scrollsaw and Chainsaw.

Sorry to step in.
Material test on jeans with a 20W diode letters cut at 300mm/m 45% power 2 pass.

Test check.

EDIT: something was wrong in mi mind.
Just did a test 300mm/m 45% power 2 passes real slow.

A diode laser will not be “quick” and will certainly have trouble with “a lot” due to overall size limitations unless you get something exotic.

Denim may be difficult to cut, due to its blue color being close to the diode wavelength: the fabric will reflect the laser’s energy rather than absorbing it and vaporizing.

I’ve used a CO₂ laser on fabric with good results, but my 700×500 mm machine is too small for large clothing patterns.

In any event, a machine sized to accomplish what you want will cost on the order of $2000 to $3000 all in; $400 is unrealistically low.


I think I’d be willing to up the budget to around 600-700. I will be cutting patches in star designs and letters about 7 inches by 4 inches.

Is it viable for cutting? How long does it take to cut an inch of fabric?

Roughly 2 inches 1:47 minutes real slow compared to a CO2.


Will it actually cut the fabric out or just etch a design?

Are you wanting to cut full pattern pieces out? Like the pieces used to make the garments?

If so, you won’t get one big enough in your budget (or anything near your budget).

The general way production is done at a small-business scale is to stack several layers of fabric and use a specialised fabric cutter to cut them out.

You can draw around the pattern pieces onto the fabric, or you can just pin the pieces to the fabric and cut around them, or you can use a calibrated projection to project the shapes down onto the fabric.

Source: I used to work in small-scale clothing production, and apprenticed as a theatrical costume maker, I have various qualifications in Clothing Production.

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Yeah I’m trying to find away to cut shapes out of the fabric that won’t take too long. How much would a laser cutter that could do that cost?


Welcome to the LB forum Matt.

While the required size:

of the shapes to be cut is small enough to be done -even in 2*2 arrays- with almost any budget diode laser, cutting cotton(mix) fabric with a diode laser will be a rather inefficient and slow process as the previous posters have said, regardless of the power.
The lack of speed doesn’t matter much if You can fashion or purchase a feeder or conveyer belt, but those aren’t exactly cheap either.
And those require either a laser controller that can drive that as well, or a separate controller that is somehow controlled in sync with the cutter.

For any kind of medium to high volume production, the cutter would most likely be a CO2, and I’d second @ednisley 's

estimate as a minimum.
Probably ~twice that if You need to cut large batches relatively quickly.

The footprint of such a laser cutter would also be quite large, but You could probably take advantage of that by being able to cut larger array of patches without feeders/conveyers.
Or cut larger pieces for others with similar needs but without the means of purchasing a laser cutter.
Lack of feeders/conveyers would also reduce the temptation to leave the cutter unattended while it’s cutting, and that’s always a positive thing.



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signs under both of these

Everyone’s information is better than mine, not least because they are people with more experience in the field.
But because I’m in the middle of testing jeans with the laser, I decided to cut out a ±‬2" star.
I increased the power and speed and the results are below.

20W diode 2passes 1100mm/m 75% power 23 seconds.
The best thing in my opinion is if you have a makerspace nearby you can take your shapes/designs and do a test.

Ive seen two examples of machines doing this exact thing in some volume but they were both about 200w+ galvo fiber devices (spendy!). They zapped through several inches of denim fabric at an amazing speed producing patterns for jean shorts. Anything less tho will be slow and tedious making one or two patches at once only with a diode. That may be enough since volume needs were not specifically mentioned.

Didnt you know you were portuguese too Parsec :smiley:

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You can get the Sculpfun S30 Pro (10w) for under $500 that will do it in about 40 seconds. The SF-A9 (40w/20w switchable) is in the $1200 range. I have no denim to test, but I guess 6-7 seconds with this one. Both can do 4-6 stars in one session.

Without knowing how many pieces per hour, day, week, etc. you expect to produce, it is hard to recommend any particular size machine.

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Thanks for testing that! Could it cut like 10 of these shapes out in one run at 23 seconds per shape do you think? I would like to make about 30 shirts to start out, so about 160 stars. If it took 3 hours to cut out 160 stars I’d be satisfied with that rate of production.

I would like to produce 50 stars per hour at 4.5” length per star