Darkly Labs Community

Cutting plywood

Hello! When I first got my emblaser 2 I also had a thing of makeblock  single ply plywood that I was using to first learn on. Ive now gotten laser 3mm hoop pine 3 ply plywood but Ive had a lot of troubles cutting it. So for the makeblock ply I used the generic plywood setting and it worked great consistently but only a few times with the new plywood I was able to get a good cut with only 2 passes. Here’s what I use currently to get good results!
4 passes
100 speed
1.50 Z offset
0.25 Z step

id love to get it to be able get it down to 2 or 3 passes as I feel like I’m waiting forever just for it to cut.
I was on the phone with customer support the other week and he was telling me how to open the laser up to clean/realign the prisms or the other lens but I didn’t fully understand and didn’t want to mess something up.
what would you guys recommend? Is there something I’m missing?

Hi Joel,

There are a variety of 3mm ply’s which are labelled “laser ply”, this label is mainly given to plywoods intended for CO2 lasers though and won’t always cut easily on the E2.

That being said the best way to work out the ideal cut setting is to first slow down the speed to maybe 15-20mm/s and do a proper focus test on your material to see what Z height will give you the best result for a single pass. (I think the focus test tool is built into lightburn now).

Cutting in a single pass without having to adjust the Z height is probably the best way to cut if possible. If you do have to do multiple passes, for 3mm ply I would recommend not adjusting the Z height between passes.

I know you said you’d like it to be faster but you’re not likely to get it to go much faster unless you find a different material. Having good airflow above and below the piece will help it cut better though as there will be less smoke to get in the way of the laser.

If you do go with a different material, choose something lightweight, i’ve had good success with the 2.5 to 3mm 3ply basswood ply from Balsa Central:

Hope this helps,

Hi Joel,

Thanks for posting on the Community site!

First of all you should not have to clean the  Prisms under normal use and the only ‘realignment’ should be positioning the Lens Housing correctly in the Laser Unit, and is only necessary if you have removed/repositioned the Lens Housing.

The  Prisms  themselves should not be realigned or altered in any way and you should never touch the Diode (Collimation) Lens.

Cleaning the Focus Lens should be done weekly, by following the instructions in the Lens Cleaning Wizard  from within LightBurn from the menu bar: Emblaser > Maintenance > Start Lens Clean (Gen2). As you have a rev. 2 machine, you should choose the (much simpler) Gen2 wizard.

The most important things to check are as follows:

  • Focus Lens is clean
  • Focus Calibration has been performed
  • Material and Support values are accurate
  • Material is flat

Regarding cutting, as Jeremy’s indicated ‘Laser Ply’ often refers to the glues 1, not excessive and 2, being safe for laser cutting. This does not mean they will all cut with the Generic Ply settings.

With laser cutting, you are trying to minimise the amount of heat transferred to the material, to reduce burning while cutting is performed by vaporising the material. This means there is a balance of speed at 100% power, that will provide the fastest cut time while minimising burning and surface marking on the material. 100mm/min is the slowest I’d recommend for this (generally 180-200mm/min).

I’d say you have fairly good settings overall. You may find that a Z Offset of 0.0mm, with a Z Step Per Pass of 0.6mm may be slightly better, but this would be minimal if noticeable at all.

Trying a lighter weight ply such as a Poplar Ply will allow you to cut quicker.


Best regards,



Customer Support Team

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Yes, with the speed I think I assumed you meant mm/second since no units were indicated. I usually just work in mm/s since I’m also running a CO2 laser with lightburn. It also allows me to think of the speed of the E2 as a percentage since top speed is about 100mm/s or 6000mm/min. To get the fine increments you just have to go into the decimals.

Thanks for you help guys! Ive got it cutting better as my biggest issue was my plywood not being flat