How to cut fabric?

Have a small consideration added in too.

The Laser CANNOT be left unattended specially working with fabrics.
So factor the attendance time in too. Is machine + Operator time.


Using @gilaraujo 's numbers for a 20w machine, I get 9 stars per 12" square (but feed it from a 12" wide roll). that means 3min/75sec per square (9x25sec), and 22min30sec for 6 squares for a net of 49 stars in <30 minutes. This suggests you can do your 50/hr with a 10w machine. If you are at the machine working 5 hours out of the 8 hour day (lunch and leaks), your output would be about 250 stars per day.

The attached file with stars is kind of crude, but it shows proof of concept.

Denim Star.lbrn2 (53.4 KB)

True. I was more refering the risks of leaving such a job unattended.
Can lead to disasters.

Yeah, hopefully he will pause the machine if he has to leave it. We don’t need another statistic.


Thank you for calculating that. I can’t view the file though. What specific machine do you recommend I get?

You have the trial copy of Lightburn? Open it with that.

I won’t recommend any machine. I will only share what I have, which are Sculpfun’s S30 Pro (10w) and SF-A9 (40w/20w) machines, $600 and $1200 respectively. Both have 14+" of workspace. A plus is that Melvin Misken (@misken ) is a Guru with Sculpfun and has the Wiki website on them.

There are other good machines out there, so you have to decide which best suits your needs and location.


My machine has a 400mm x 400mm bed, 42-star preview at 14:48, time not tested, time can vary a little it’s not linear.
But I think its better to do a real test with your denim, may be different from mine.

Something to consider is that using a non-industrial laser to do this (something smaller than a huge gantry 1500 x 3000 or more) is that you will still be cutting the fabric out to fit the bed of your laser.

This takes up a lot of material and cuts rather drastically into the time ‘saved’ by the laser.

Have you done much sewing of garments on an industrial scale before? There’s a lot that goes into making it an economically-viable enterprise. There’s a reason most of our clothing is made by what basically constitutes slave labour…

I am a big-time clothing-maker. I learned it first when I was still learning to read. I used to do it industrially, and I’ve done it for the theatre, and I still do it for myself, what I’m getting at is that I’m really very experienced in this field, and the laser one, and there are very very good reasons why I don’t reach for the laser when it comes to cutting out pieces.

Even on a laser with a huge bed that would reduce the need to cut the fabric into wasteful pieces, you can’t stack the fabric up like you would in a traditional production environment (fabrics and papers catch fire in a laser if you try to cut a stack), meaning that you’re really not saving any time, because you have to cut each layer 1-by-1 and then also take all those pieces off the table and sort and categorise them for sewing.

Wheres with the saw I mentioned earlier, you will have a stack of 20 layers or so, each with a piece of paper on top stating what part and size it is, ready to be passed to the sewers.

Plus lasers either burn the edges away (on natural fibers) which then, when rubbed around make the fresh pieces all sooty and gross, or they melt the edges (synthetic ones), which are crispy and awful against the skin.

Also because of the high surface area of these materials, they’re very prone to catching fire, even moreso than cardboard.

And because it’s hard to secure the pieces after cutting, they get whisked into the exhaust fans. You can add tabs to keep them attached to the waste fabric, but then you have to manually trim them after.

If you just wanted to do some one-off home-sewing things that needed to be accurate or would be fiddly by hand (I’m thinking use-cases like cosplay perhaps) I can see lasers being somewhat useful, but I couldn’t recommend them on an industrial scale.

I adore lasers, but they aren’t the tool for every job. :slight_smile:

I would recommend looking into some huge tables, the type of saw used for clothing production and maybe a roll-fed plotter for printing out your patterns, so you can just lay that on top of your stack of fabric, and get cutting.


Our Makerspace met at a shop where a guy did commercial fabric work and introduced us to an ancient Fabric Cutter: basically a saber saw with a foot-long unprotected knife blade that sliced through thickly stacked fabric with absolutely no fuss.

Approximately one of these, minus all the fiddly guards & safety features:

It is the most terrifying tool I have ever seen in my life.


That’s a great option I didn’t even know about. Thanks for sharing that and I’m gonna look into it.

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Yeah I might have to get that…

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For ~8" cut length that sounds reasonable.
And while as the items/hour:

is at least in the preproduction stage very reasonable, I’d assume that most of the ~20W diodes would struggle to reach that.
Assuming of course that the 4,5" is the span, so ~18" cutting length.

I haven’t been keeping up with the latest developement in the hobby laser field so I won’t give any recommendations on what to buy either.


As I own a xTool D1 Pro 20W, I do not recommend buying their products.
Especially if You want to use other design-/control software than their own XCS.
Probably not if You think that XCS will “do just fine” either :wink: .

xTool rant on:

While their mechanical construction is great for the price, xTool has for some unknown reason chosen their own unique interpretation of GRBL.
Which means that their firmware isn’t fully compatible with any third party software as-is, and there’s always some features missing or acting strangely.
While xTool advertizes full compatibility with LB, that’s a big load of BS.
It’s only because of the geniuses in LB staff that xTool machines can be used with LB.
I can only imagine how many unnecessary hours they have spent in just because xTool wants to be difficult.
There’s been hints that the xTools policy may be changing though, we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

xTool rant off.

I won’t quote all of that, just say that there’s so much relevant information in that post that anyone with the itch to use a laser cutter for fabrics should read that several times.

For me it’s the “speed-splitter” used to split firewood, the one with a large spinning wagon wheel with an axe tied to one (or two for the really brave ones) of the spokes.
Some say that one seasoned operator of such contraption ordering 4 beers may well have been the origin of the 70’s heavy metal horn gesture, not Ronnie, and definitely not Gene :grinning:




Lisboa. Since the very beginning.

Well… next time bring some Pasteis de Belem! :smiley: :smiley:

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Something you might want to look into as well, as you’re starting out, is outsourcing the cutting of pieces to someone with this set up already. Look for ‘cutters’ in your area. There’s bound to be a few folk in their basement doing it near you. :slight_smile: