Customers sometimes ask me what laser cut edges of materials will look like when they’re thinking about how their end products will look.
Wood is an interesting material. The look of the cut edges depends on the wood itself and its thickness. Solid wood, laser plywood and mdf all give very different results.
Oak yields a consistently dark laser cut edge. One particularly attractive feature is that the wood grain can be seen across the cut. It’s different on each coaster as wood grain is different, even if the wood is from the same part on the same tree. You can see this in the picture above.
Cut edges of other solid woods can look different. Some are more dense than others and wood grain is characteristic to each wood. As a general rule, the darker the wood, the darker the laser cut edge. Wood thickness can affect this too. And thicker the wood, the slower it must be cut and the darker the edges can look.
The laser ply I use is birch, a very pale wood. I source it in thicknesses from 3 to 9mm. Plywood is made up of layers glued together, around three for 3 and 4mm ply and five for 6mm ply. Laser cut edges show up these layers as you can see in the picture below showing my 3mm business card, and 4 and 6mm stars for InkPaintPaper.
I can cut 3mm ply much faster than 9mm ply. And the edges look very different. 3mm edges are golden brown, as are 4mm edges. 5 and 6mm edges are much darker, and 9mm edges are close to black.
Mdf is much a much darker board and I can up to 9mm mdf. Laser cut edges on 2 and 3mm mdf are brown and 6 and 9mm mdf edges are black. The pony above is cut from 9mm mdf for PinkFishShetland.
As mdf is a homogeneous board, there is no texture or layer structure visible on the cut edges.