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After having read Chuck's wonderful build log about the cutter Cheerful, I came to the page where he describes having made certain parts of laserboard. This material seems to be outstanding when producing tiny parts either with laser or maybe also router. But where to get this material and which thicknesses are available? After a short googling it seems that nobody knows this material, especially in Europe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Guys

 

Just found this topic.  That is NOT Laserboard.   Its just a company using the "nickname" for what laser cutters call "lsaserboard.   

 

Laserboard is basically resin soaked kraft paper.   It is specifically designed for use as the backer for kitchen cabinets and veneers, etc.  It is sold in huge rolls and 4 x 8 sheets.   There are other backers available commercially BUT they are made with some nasty stuff that is poison.  It has some nasty chemicals usually.  But this one Brand does NOT have those chemicals (formaldehyde) that could kill you when you laser cut it.

 

Before I tell you the Brand Name....let me say that it is almost impossible to get unless you are a cabinet maker or contractor.   It took me years to find a supplier and basically I get the scraps from this cabinet maker whenever he fills  up a box with the stuff.

 

The Brand Name is "polybak".   It is wildly successful and used by model railroaders....but for whatever reason it has NOT found acceptance by ship model MFGs.  At least not yet.  As far as I know I am the only one who uses it.  Probably because its so hard to find.   You cant order just one sheet.   You need to order a ridiculous number of 4 x 8 sheets or a 250 pound roll of the stuff.  It comes in varying thicknesses but mostly its really thin.   The different sizes and colors have different properties depending on the commercial use it is being used for.

 

Here is the MFG's website.  They dont sell direct to the public.  There are very few distributors.....because in the industry most cabinet makers will buy the cheaper stuff because even though its NOT a danger to them.  It is a real danger to laser cutters.   

 

http://www.richwoodind.com/polybak.html

 

Laser cutters affectionately refer to this material as laserboard BUT recently that other company decided to use the name for its completely different and thicker material which has now added to the confusion.  The best way to find this stuff is to contact local cabinet makers or veneer makers and CONFIRM that it is Polybak and NOT another material that could kill you if you laser cut it.  Then beg for scraps.  Unless you can find a distributor that will sell you one or two 4 x 8 sheets.

 

Chuck

 

 

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Thanks for the info Chuck. Formaldehyde is really nasty. Most likely the other producers use a phenol formaldehyde resin saturant. The heat from the laser unzips the resin and releases formaldehyde. Some of us are old to remember when we dissected frogs in Biology class in high school . The frogs were all preserved in formaldehyde!

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Thanks Chuck for your message. I also have tried to find this material everywhere, because it would suit perfectly also for cutting with cnc router (I think).

I have tried to find a substitute for photo etched parts which could be produced with a router, by trying different plastics, but without success. The best material so far has been thin aircraft plywood, or a product called Sikablock, but it is very difficult to cut slices thin enough (<0,5 mm) of this material. So laserboard would be the perfect answer for my needs, but I cannot understand why it is so difficult to get. Maybe I have to try your link, but I doubt they will not sell it for private persons, especially when they are situated on the other side of the globe.

But I wonder where the railroaders are getting their stuff?

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Did some searching for Polybak online and found this vendor that sells single 49"x97" sheets.  Don't know what they charge as you need to setup a business account to see the prices.

 

https://www.wurthlac.com/storefront/pre-fab-components/backing-sheets/polybak-backing-sheet-paint-grade-011-thick-49-x-97-/prodPCCLPGBTN.html

 

Here is another vendor that will provide laserboard (not sure what kind) custom cut to your specs and also sells sheets (from 12"x12") of the material.

 

http://automatedartists.com/laserboard

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Interesting discussion. The material would be called 'hard paper' (=Hartpapier) in German and is essentially a variant of Bakelite. It is paper soaked with a phenolic resin and pressed between steel-plates while setting due achieve a smooth surface and uniform thickness. It is commercially available down to 0.2 mm thickness and was/is used as insulating material in electrotechnics. Before being superseded by expoxi-based materials it was also used for circuit-boards. There are other variants of the material that are based on layers of cloth soaked with the resin that are used for making silent gears and the likes.

 

I am using it a lot in my models because it is stiffer than polystyrene and does not contain plasticisers, so that it has a better long-term stability. Basically bakelite artefacts have been around for some hundred years now without degradation. Polystyrene will be brittle by that time.

 

'Hard paper' has some good properties, but is also rather brittle and may splinter easily when duller tools are used on it. One has to learn to work with the material.

 

This Polybak® seems to be an interesting stuff. Unfortunately, their safety data sheets do not say what resin they use, it is only labelled as 'proprietary' compound. Otherwise, one could look for a similar product here in Europe. I would be very interested, as the phenolic fumes that are given off when machining my 'hard paper' are not all too pleasant and possible not too healthy either.

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I found also the company Automated Artists, and have placed my order for certain thicknesses of Polybak for testing. Even when Chuck told us that this material is too weak for routing, I would like to try that. When producing very tiny parts, they must not be very strong to fullfill their purpose, which is only to emulate small metal parts. And when machined with 0,3 mm router bit very carefully I am almost sure that I can manage that work.

However being material which is very hard to find and transport from US to Europe especially in small quantities, it would be nice to find some equivalents nearer. So this "Hartpapier"  or Bakelite, as we also know it here, would also be very interesting material to know better and worth testing how it would suit for the purposes of model ship building.

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There are no fumes at all when laser cutting.   It has very little strength when any pressure is applied to it so it cant be used for stuff on your model that needs this strength.  Like chain plates or eye bolts and other things.  It will tear quite readily when any stress is applied to thin pieces.  It also breaks when you hard fold thin pieces.   Its great for some parts and just plain not useable for others.

 

Chuck

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Moxis, here in my building-log you can see some applications: https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/8957-sms-wespe-armoured-gunboat-1876-of-the-imperial-german-navy-by-wefalck-–-1160-scale-when-first-commissioned/&do=findComment&comment=465372. I am laminating e.g. MDF with it and manually engrave plate-lines etc.

 

Not easy to see, but some 20 years ago I built the shell of this dinghy from planks cut form 'hard-paper' and cemented together with CA. The reason was that I needed very thin planks and due to the clinker-construction could not really sand the surface:

 

steinhaus-04-72.jpg

 

If this Polybak® is less brittle than the phenolic resin-based material, this would be of advantage. However, with a 0.3 mm end-mill at very high speed, but low feed you shouldn't have any problems on a CNC-mill, if the material it clamped down properly. I am using ordinary HSS- or carbide-metalworking tools with it. Single-lip engravers also work well, as do diamond-impregnated tools. One has to remember that these materials, Polybak® and 'hard paper', are laminated materials and not homogeneous. In the very thin qualities you have essentially a very thin layer of pure resin, the resin-impregnated paper, and then another very thin layer of pure resin. The pure resin is rather brittle, which is why one has the paper in between to take up the tensile stresses, just like the steel bars in re-inforced concrete. A tool jerk my cause chipping of the pure resin layer.

 

When machining 'hard paper' in a router, i.e. when generating a lot of dust and heating up the tools and the material, one should have a reasonably good ventilation.

 

I bought a life-time supply of 0.2 mm and 0.4 mm 'hard-paper' sheet from a small company specialising in such materials in Berlin, where I lived at the time. There are various German companies on the Internet that offer the material, but I don't know, whether they would sell in small quantities and to private people. Thicker qualities, 1 mm and above, can be bought in small pieces from electronics supply houses (e.g. Conrad in Germany, Austria, and France).

 

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  • 3 years later...

It is always nice to get information on any potential material suppliers, but, is having the above advertisement from a new supplier appropriate for a first time post in this particular forum?  Plus it has been pointed out many times that posting an individual's  email address in an open forum is not a good thing to do.

Allan 

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On 5/8/2017 at 6:47 PM, Chuck said:

Exactly.....so even though you might find some other brands of backers easy to find.  Dont use them because most if not all of them have high levels of the stuff.   Just look for some way to get the polybak.

 

GearAssortmentSmall.jpg

 

GearAssortmentLarge.jpg

 

GearAssortmentSmall2.jpg

 

Where these parts actually laser-cut /-engraved ? What PolyBak(?) thickness did you use and what laser power ?

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Yes...that is the ivory polybak.  Each color is a diff thickness.  I believe that is .016.  
 

there are different brands but this is the only one that wont kill you if you laser cut it.  The other stuff is made with harsh chemicals and literally poison. 
 

I use three colors or 3 thicknesses.  Black is very hard to come by and very thin.

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Thanks. I figured indeed from the Richwood Web-site that different qualities (densities) come in different colours and different thicknesses.

 

What laser power did you use ? I found that most bonded materials don't seem to cut very well with my little 6W laster, presumably because the resin etc. needs more energy to evaporate/char.

 

The problem is to find an equivalent brand over here in Europe, though obviously there are similar applications, such as the backing of laminated woods.

 

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Low low power and low speed is my mantra.   Every laser is different but I use just 8 power and maybe 18-20 speed for the Ivory stuff.   I use a 65 watt laser.  Very little to no laser burning at all.  For example these monograms are super tiny and I use the black thin laserboard.   No charring and a very thin kerf.   Can hardly see the cut line.  Otherwise these small items would not be possible.

 

I know some guys that wont vector cut laserboard and they will raster cut or engrave through the board entirely.   I prefer to do the line cuts however.

 

Monograms (English 1750-1820) for brass cannon (3 sizes - 90 per pack)

360509418.jpg

 

Chuck

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Posted (edited)

I have been working with brown Canson-paper, which highly calandered, but only lightly bonded paper of 0.13 mm (=0.01") thickness. I cannot adjust the speed, only pulse length and energy, and there is no vector-cutting option. There is some charring, but it comes off quite well. Here is an example of what I am getting:

 

https://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/maritime/models/wespemodel/wespe-progress-306.jpg

 

The anchors are 11 mm (= 7/16") long. I manage to cut down to about 2/100" widths, sometimes less, depends on the orientation of the part with respect to the axes of the machine.

 

Assembled anchors:

 

https://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/maritime/models/wespemodel/wespe-progress-308.jpg

 

I have been looking for some material that is bonded, but still can be easily laser-cut, hence my interest in the PolyBak. I normally soak the Canson-paper in shellac after cutting.

Edited by wefalck
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Have you ever considered trying rowmark black acrylic......the solid black comes in .020 thickness.   Its what I used to make my hooks from.

 

https://www.jpplus.com/rowmark-fibergrave-black-engraving-plastic

 

Its a flexible plastic but not too flexible.   Great for small parts that wont require tensile strength.  Anchors in particular.   But this is the thinnest available.  Its expensive but what isnt these days.

 

Chuck 

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