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 Cutting Styrene?
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SDB
Section Hand

Posted - 06/09/2008 :  05:54:02 AM  Show Profile
Hello --

I've been very interested in your cutting service for quite a while.

I was wondering -- have you ever tried cutting styrene with your laser cutter? I'd be particularly interested in knowing if you have any experience cutting Evergreen Scale Models 4041 clapboard pieces. They are white styrene, 0.040" thick.

Thanks,

Stuart

Country: USA | Posts: 76

deemery
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 06/09/2008 :  10:22:02 AM  Show Profile
I'll answer for Chris, since we've had this discussion already :-) The bottom line is that laser cutters cannot cut styrene, because they release bad gasses that mess up (a) laser cutter and (b) lungs :-)

Much better to use the laser to cut wood clapboard.

The one thing where you'd like laser-cut styrene is for transparent window material. I think Chris has found a source for stuff that he can cut, I know some other vendors have found a material to cut that doesn't have the hazards of styrene.

dave (who happened to check the forums this AM)


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

Country: USA | Posts: 7588 Go to Top of Page

Tim Kerkhoff
Fireman



Posted - 06/09/2008 :  12:00:51 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message
Stuart,

I do not know anyone but apparently it can be done. This modeler has had pieces made and they look great. you might send him an email and ask for more details.
Here is a link to his site.
http://www.thrutherockies.com/model/laser_cutting_styrene/laser_cutting_styrene.php

Home page link:
http://www.thrutherockies.com/home.php



Edited by - Tim Kerkhoff on 06/09/2008 12:02:17 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 5879 Go to Top of Page

belg
Fireman



Posted - 06/09/2008 :  4:31:03 PM  Show Profile
Tim, I like the line that states it was very expensive! Real nice bridge supports he had made if they were worth it for him more power to him, some things you can't make yourself unless you have all these new tools, and thats not me, Pat


Country: USA | Posts: 4503 Go to Top of Page

Tim Kerkhoff
Fireman



Posted - 06/09/2008 :  5:40:35 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message
Actually Pat, I would think that styrene could be milled. Of course that depends on what you are trying to make.


Country: USA | Posts: 5879 Go to Top of Page

railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 06/09/2008 :  5:56:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage
A friend of mine had some delicate roof supports cut from styrene a while ago. He's modeling the train shed of the local Union Station and it wasn't practical to try and scratchbuild them, although he did try. He's modeling in HO, and later had some made for another friend who is in O scale. Don't have any idea where he had them made though.

Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Country: Canada | Posts: 4026 Go to Top of Page

lab-dad
Fireman



Posted - 06/10/2008 :  09:08:54 AM  Show Profile  Visit lab-dad's Homepage  Send lab-dad a Yahoo! Message
Crystal River Products can cut strene.
Had some special shapes made for my Plymouth.
.020 & .040"
-Marty



Country: USA | Posts: 1543 Go to Top of Page

deemery
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 06/10/2008 :  1:59:16 PM  Show Profile
There are plastics that can be cut by the 'average' lasercutter, including acrylic. So it's worth being a bit careful when you talk about laser-cut plastics. There's another kind of plastic that isn't styrene but is very similar, that comes in .010/.015 transparent sheets, so you can laser-cut it for window glass.

CMR, for example, does really fantastic stuff cut out of acrylics.

dave


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

Country: USA | Posts: 7588 Go to Top of Page

DaKra
Engine Wiper

Posted - 03/11/2009 :  7:20:36 PM  Show Profile
Laser cutting styrene is possible, but tricky because the material tends to melt and reheal instead of vaporizing.

The laser settings need to be very fine tuned for the thickness and the plastic manufacturer's variations. I've found its possible to get a fairly clean cut through, but the kerf tends to be slightly larger than other materials and corners are not as sharp. There also tends to be a slightly raised lip along the cut line.

I prefer lasering a score line into the surface. The parts can be snapped from the sheet and there is minimal kerf.

There are some white sheet plastics made specifically for laser cutting, but they are softer than what most hobbyists use, and the spec label with the material indicates the material is not stable for the long term.

I wouldn't use styrene if another material could be used.

On Dee's warning-- PVC or vinyl is bad for the machine because it releases corrosive fumes.



Country: USA | Posts: 456 Go to Top of Page

DaKra
Engine Wiper

Posted - 03/11/2009 :  7:43:33 PM  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by belg

Tim, I like the line that states it was very expensive! Real nice bridge supports he had made if they were worth it for him more power to him, some things you can't make yourself unless you have all these new tools, and thats not me, Pat




Actually he said the cost to have them done in the UK was expensive, and he found a less expensive source in Sweden who did the work for about $18.

You don't need your own laser. Custom laser cutting isn't very costly, ask around, you may be surprised.

I can understand why he would want to laser cut a repetitive part like those pins but I see no compelling reason to use styrene.
Dave




Edited by - DaKra on 03/11/2009 10:06:41 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 456 Go to Top of Page

Rusty Stumps
Fireman



Posted - 03/11/2009 :  8:10:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit Rusty Stumps's Homepage
Gee, my new window and door material is resin (plastic) and I cut it with no problems at all. I also cut styrene up to .010" thick. After that it gets the problem mentioned earlier of melting and resealing. But, I don't do custom laser work anyway. I'm certain, if Chris wanted to, he could cut styrene also.

As to the gasses, the thing is alway have outside venting. My unit uses a high volume exhaust system with the fan unit sitting outside a window. Afterall, even wood gives off obnoxious odors when burnt which is what a laser does. Lasers don't cut anything, they burn their way through.


Walt

Country: USA | Posts: 7762 Go to Top of Page

maandg
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/11/2009 :  10:37:59 PM  Show Profile  Visit maandg's Homepage
Stuart,

CMR (Custom Model Railroads) cut numerous sheets of styrene windows and doors for my New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal. Jeff, who I worked with, stated that cross pieces need to be at least as wide as they are thick. In other words, parts from .040 styrene stock must have details no thinner than .040. If you are only interested in wall sections with door and window openings, this is no problem at all. I had my wall and roof pieces cut from acrylic which cut beautifully and need less bracing. You can see the results in this thread:

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=21008

Hope this helps!!


Cliff Powers
The Mississippi Alabama & Gulf
Please visit my layout website at
www.magnoliaroute.com

Country: | Posts: 474 Go to Top of Page

railbuilderdhd
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/12/2009 :  1:46:03 PM  Show Profile
Has anyone see the cutting machines made for hobbies that cuts card stock. Will it cut styrene and can you get detail cuts from it I would like to know. I don't recall what they are called or who makes them but I've seen them on craft sites. Mostly for used for scrap booking but there are advanced cutters I think may work. Anyone know about these, I've looked but can't find the links I had. They must be on my laptop.
Dave



Country: USA | Posts: 358 Go to Top of Page

DaKra
Engine Wiper

Posted - 03/12/2009 :  3:35:18 PM  Show Profile
These are plotter cutters. I don't know what they'll do but I doubt the type marketed for scrapbooking have the power to cut through styrene, maybe it would score it. I think you can get a lot of custom cutting done for the price of one of these.

http://www.craftrobostore.com/index.html

Dave



Country: USA | Posts: 456 Go to Top of Page

cj8n
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/13/2009 :  2:35:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit cj8n's Homepage  Send cj8n an AOL message
We use an acrylic sheet material that laser cuts much better than styrene and yet is easy to work with. This is a soft acrylic that is difficult to tell apart from styrene. It is also available in a wide range of colors.

This link is to one brand. http://www.rowmark.com/laser/Laser_Engravable_Materials.asp

This stuff is also great for making signs around your layout.

Chris



Country: USA | Posts: 135 Go to Top of Page

railbuilderdhd
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/16/2009 :  12:02:31 AM  Show Profile
Thanks for the info guys. I found a place that will cut styrene (MinuteMan Scale Models). I talked with the owner, Shawn and he said he can cut up to a certain size I can't recall what size but without a problem. I will be keeping this on file for future needs as well as what is posted here.
Thanks,
Dave



Country: USA | Posts: 358 Go to Top of Page
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