While most vinyl foils available today contain chlorine and are as such unsuited for laser cutting, some are available that do not contain the hazardous element. For its eco-friendly Colibri collection, belgian company Grafityp produces some of such chlorine-free vinyls, and we're interested in how they hold up for laser cutting. We'll be testing a matt black sticky foil from their Grafitack line-up, also available in a wide range of other matt and shiny colors. To get an idea of appropriate laser intensity and quality of the cut, we started off cutting following small sample.
Cuts in above sample have been made starting at 8% of the laser's output power (highest power is 80W), going up in 0,2% increments to reach an 11,6% maximum. At this maximum the laser cuts through both vinyl and backing paper, and the cut is clean. As long as the laser does not travel throught the backing paper, however, molten vinyl gets blown away by pressurized air from the laser nozzle, resulting in smears on both sides of the cut. When cutting through the backing paper isn't possible a simple trick avoids these smears: moisten some paper with water and stick it to the vinyl, then perform the cut while the paper is still wet; the edges will now stay clean without having the laser cut through the backing paper. The following is a quick cutout of our logo.