Varieties of machines for cutting plywood and their features
All plywood cutting machines can be divided into two large groups: milling and laser. They are not interchangeable: in some cases it is appropriate to use laser equipment, and in others. milling equipment. Let us tell you about the features of these machines and help you determine which machine is right for you.
Both milling and laser machines are designed for cutting plywood and other materials. Milling equipment cuts sheets by contact method with a cutting element. a cutter. But laser machines cut veneer through temperature influence on material: it looks like it evaporates under a powerful beam of intense light. The principle of action determines other features of both types of equipment:
- Cutting material. Cutters cut wood, plexiglass, plastic and even metal well, but cannot cut rubber. Laser machine for plywood can cut rubber, plexiglas, but not metal. It is better not to cut plastic with a laser at all: when heated, it emits dangerous carcinogens into the air.
- Three-dimensional processing. The laser cuts in a straight line, and the cutter can smoothly change its position in three planes at once. Therefore, three-dimensional figures will look beautiful if they are cut with a milling machine. From under the laser equipment, they will come out rough, stepped.
- material thickness. Laser cutting machines for plywood can cut sheets up to 40 mm thick. Milling equipment can cut materials up to 40, 50, 60 cm thick and even more.
- Charring. The cut spot remains light after the cutter and dark, charred after the laser. But charring can be avoided by introducing nitrogen or inert gas into the cutting area to cut off the oxygen. Sometimes a darker cut embellishes the finished product.
What’s the best machine?? If you work not only plywood, but also metal, plastic, and materials can have different thicknesses, you need a milling machine. You just need it for volumetric applications. For delicate or thin materials and applications that require very precise cutting, you will need a CNC (numerically controlled) laser. It’s also good for engraving small parts.
Plywood is easier to cut with a laser machine. Birch plywood is good for both.
Which laser power to use
With the most powerful head available, a 15-watt head, you can easily engrave not only wood, but almost any type of metal (some lend themselves to burning better. others worse). With a 5 watt laser, you can engrave and cut wood, cardboard, plastic, and leather. The 1 watt model will not surprise you with results. only cardboard and plywood.
Laser Cutting. Examples
The head will deliver 100% of your laser’s intensity when you connect it directly to a 12V power supply. Do not use more than 10 minutes in this mode, or the laser will burn out. It is desirable to lower a little the supply voltage, at least on 1 volt. it will essentially increase diode life without appreciable lowering of beam power.
Choosing a laser machine for cutting plywood, highlights
Domestic and imported manufacturers produce a great variety of different CNC laser machines used for cutting and machining workpieces made of wood, including plywood.
The most advanced solutions include the use of the latest laser machines for this kind of application.
Laser wood cutter performs many different operations, in addition to its primary function, which allows you to put it in the category of multi-functional woodworking equipment.
Nowadays CNC laser engraving machines perfectly cut blanks from almost any material including: glass, polymers, paper, plastic, wood, steel, rubber and even stone.
Despite the multifunctionality, each modification, or range, has its own focus.
Desktop laser engraving machines
They are small in size and do not need to be installed in a specially prepared room. Such machines are suitable both for work in cramped conditions in the office, and for home use, where they will be an excellent starter for the novice master. Engravers are equipped with a very good optical system, although low power. However, with such an engraver it is possible to realize high quality work. For example, the application of volume on the plane or through-cutting of blanks of small thicknesses of various materials, perhaps, except steel. Compact machines are slightly inferior in performance, in cutting and cutting, to more powerful versions of the machines. Important note, if you plan to install such a laser machine in an apartment, take care of the extraction.
Not only available in a table-top design, of course. Basic type. for mounting on the floor surface.
These variants are represented by the widest variety of variants and sizes of work tables. Dimensions range from half a meter to 1.5-2 meters. Such laser machines are intended for specially equipped rooms and are adapted for hard work in production conditions.
These types of equipment are equipped with a one-piece body, which provides stability and effectively suppresses vibrations created by mechanical vibrations arising during the work process.
Their main purpose. cutting and cutting of materials, including wide format, as well as engraving on the surface of the workpiece. Laser machines have a special design that ensures increased efficiency and quality of the end product.
For example, it is possible to install two CO2 laser transmitters (tubes). This method is used for simultaneous processing of two parts, or placement of the emitter on a mobile portal in order to eliminate energy loss of the beam while it is dispersed while it “goes” to the CO2 tube.
Compact laser markers (usually called metal engravers) are needed to quickly apply high quality images.
Markers put images on three-dimensional objects: mugs, pens, jewelry, etc.
Even small elements of marking are sharp, and the applied image is highly resistant to wear and tear. It is achieved due to peculiarities of structure of laser marking system.
Lenses have the ability to mutually move, so the beam formed by a CO2 tube is formed in a two-dimensional plane, and then is directed to any point on the workpiece at the desired angle.
The tube head does not guide the beam with a flat lens but with a special lens, which ensures the stability of the laser in different operating conditions. Laser markers have a small working area, but are often equipped with a microcomputer with all the necessary software.
Top brands of laser machines and engravers
There are many companies that manufacture laser markers, and they all fall into three large categories: premium, standard and budget.
The premium class includes manufacturers that are located in Japan, USA, Taiwan, China and part of the European countries. Most recognized brands are: Trotec (Austria), GCC (Taiwan), Schuler and EuroLaser (Germany), Farley Laserlab (USA).
machines made by these companies are considered to be of high quality, in addition, they have a big markup for the brand and country of manufacture. The service life of premium manufacturers gas tubes can reach 100 thousand hours.
Laser machines from Chinese manufacturers
The reputation of products from the Celestial Empire leaves much to be desired, but this is somewhat different from the truth, because the quality of production in China has increased significantly in recent years. Large manufacturers aim to enter the world market and settle there reliably so they put a lot of efforts and money into development of laser technologies, practical application of them in their own products and strict quality control at all stages of production. HSG LASER, Raylogic, KING Rabbit,
Plywood fastening and sanding
Plywood for parquet or other flooring is fixed to the substrate with self-tapping screws and an electric screwdriver. The same way they fix sheets on the wall and other surfaces. If screws are used instead of self-tapping screws, it is necessary to pre-drill holes for them. To make the edges of the holes even, they must be made with a sharp drill with a front cutter. The heads of screws and self-tapping screws should be recessed 1-2 mm.
For parquet or fine wallpaper, the surface of the plywood must be perfectly even. Level it by sanding. A belt sander is ideal for this. First sand the sheet with a coarse-grained band, then with a fine-grained one. If the sheet has already been sanded at the factory, you can use a fine sanding coat at once. Good results can also be achieved with a vibratory sander. You can sand a small surface by hand with sandpaper or a file.
Attention! To obtain a perfectly smooth surface of plywood sheet, sand it across the grain.
What kind of plywood can be used for laser cutting?
Any kind of wood can be cut with the laser, including plywood. But what will be the result. another question. After all, the material used depends on the quality of the cut, the number of defects and how presentable the final product will look like.
Glue for gluing sheets
Various adhesives are used to connect thin wooden sheets with each other: resins, adhesives. The moisture resistance and environmental safety of plywood depends on which material is used in production.
- Of animal origin (casein, albumin and albumin-casein). They can, with a clear conscience, be called environmentally friendly, because the raw material for the glue is a protein from milk or animal blood.
- Synthetic (based on urea-formaldehyde, phenol-formaldehyde and other resins). It is worth remembering that all synthetic adhesives to some extent release into the air chemicals. It’s just a question of the quantity of these substances.
The best properties of the combination of price, quality and environmental friendliness have sheets FC with adhesives based on urea-formaldehyde resin, when heated which in the environment emits a very small amount of harmful substances for humans.
IMPORTANT: Plywood (FSF) produced with phenol-formaldehyde adhesive is not recommended because of its high toxicity and low laser permeability.
The plywood grade is affected by the presence of defects: knots, cracks, worm holes, glue leakage, rough edges and uneven thickness of the plate. A total of 5 varieties, the differences between each of which are presented in the table below.
|Variety||Partially healed, not healed, knots falling out, worm holes||Large jointed knots||Allowed|
|E (elite)||no||no||slight deviation in the structure of the wood|
|I||Diameter up to 6 mm, not more than 3 pieces. on 1 m 2||Diameter up to 15 mm, not more than 5 pcs. per 1 m 2||Minor brown streaks|
|II||Diameter up to 6 mm, not more than 6 pcs. per 1 m 2||Diameter up to 25 mm, not more than 10 pieces. per 1 m 2||Repair of sheet surface|
|III||Diameter up to 6 mm, not more than 10 pieces. per 1 m 2||No limitations||Uneven thickness, curvature|
|IV||No restrictions||No restrictions||Any manufacturing defects|
NOTE: Roman numerals of grades I, II, III, IV are often replaced by Arabic 1, 2, 3, 4 for convenience.
The sides of the sheet can be both of the same grade, and different. For example, the marking “2/2” means that on both sides the material belongs to the 2nd grade. And the number “2/3” means that one side of the sheet is grade 2, and the other is grade 3.
TIP: E-grade plywood is ideal if you need high quality. But it is a rather rare variety, which is not available everywhere. And the price is high.
Type of plywood directly affects the laser cutting process (number of rejects) and the appearance of the finished product (charred edges when passing places with knots due to the need to increase laser power; undercut due to the varying thickness of the material or uneven surface of the sheet). That is why grades E, I and II are ideal for laser cutting. It is permissible in certain cases to use plywood marked 2/3.
FK plywood, which is most commonly used for laser cutting, can have a thickness of 3 to 21 mm. But in terms of value for money, it is best to choose a material with a thickness of 3 to 6 mm. Processing thicker sheets will require an increase in time and energy costs, which will ultimately affect the cost of the product. over, the increased laser power required to cut thicker veneers produces an unsightly charred edge.
Type of wood veneer
The choice of wood used in plywood production depends on the goals and the effect to be achieved.
There are three types of plywood according to the type of wood veneer (only the composition of the outer layers is considered):
Deciduous. Most often birch. But other hardwoods are also found. It is a tough, dense material with a homogeneous structure and a light tone. The edges of the cut are often charred, thus creating a contrast between the light-colored surface and the bright, dark-colored edge.
Conifer. Mainly spruce or pine is used. Not as sturdy as birch. The tone of the surface is yellowish with a beautiful wood grain. Contains natural resins that protect the wood from rotting. When cutting, the edge does not char and has a pleasant brown color that harmonizes with the yellowish surface of the product.
The nuances of laser cutting plywood
When using laser modules, the following recommendations should be heeded. A 2.1 watt laser is good for engraving. Up to 2 mm thick sheets can be cut with a 3.5 W unit, up to 3 mm thick sheets with 5.6 W unit, up to 5 mm thick sheets with 8 W unit. If you need to cut sheets with thickness up to 10-12 mm you should use 10-15 W modules.
Lasers for plywood cutting considerably simplify the work and increase cutting accuracy. With these machines, it is possible to cut out parts of any complex shape. Power is the most important criterion for choosing equipment. It determines the capabilities of the machine, its productivity, the thickness of the sheets. As it increases, so does the cost of the device, and therefore requires an optimal approach to the selection, taking into account the purpose and specific conditions.
Blocks of all kinds. The most common expanded and sandwich blocks. Gas and foam blocks in a short time have become very popular in the construction of private homes. They have a number of advantages. good heat resistance, noise insulation. Lightweight in relation to the size of other materials due to this lower consumption for the foundation. Disadvantages: quite fragile, need to be faced because they quickly absorb moisture due to the porous structure. The cost of a house of foam blocks will be 11 000. 20 000 m2.
Fit the guide rail to the size of the part that is to be sawn off
The important problem is to set the guide on which the saw will go. To do this, measure the basic dimension. the length from the edge of the circular saw blade to the edge of the steel circular saw blade. and write it down somewhere, on the wall of the workshop for example, that will come in handy! Next, you need to make a marking on the sheet of plywood: the width of the sawn off part, the thickness of the saw blade itself and plus the base size.
As a guide you can use a special steel ruler from a construction store. But it’s much easier and cheaper to use sawn off plywood, where one side is factory-made, t.е. flat, is quite suitable for this work.
According to the drawn dimension, set the rail and fix it together with a piece of plywood with clamps.
To prevent damage to the surface of the plywood sheet by the legs of the clamp put under them, for example, pieces of old plywood.