Darkly Labs Community

Only getting 2mm through 3mm plywood despite all efforts [[SOLVED]]

I’ve had the Emblaser 2 since the pre-order phase, and originally I was able to cut 3mm plywood relatively well (I’ll admit I don’t know if I got the settings 100% in the early stages) however for the past… I don’t know how long exactly, I haven’t been able to cut through 3mm plywood. 

I have bought the silicone dust cover, I use the air assist, I ensure that the dust cover is on correctly (the laser when testing is a circle, not a semi circle or ovoid which occurs when the dust cover isn’t aimed correctly), I even upgraded from the achromatic lens to the quartz lens (I even sent in the entire lens set up for assistance putting the lens in because I had trouble with it), I’m using LightBurn and the library for 3mm plywood, I’m using lasersafe plywood from plyco. I’m pretty sure I am doing everything I can do to give it the best cut possible. The lens is also clean. I have run the configuration tool and I have done cuts at the wrong value (on accident) and the right value (I mention this because it covers in case I read the offset wrong)
I use the cutting mats and I make sure that the correct values are taken into consideration when using them.

Buy anyway, the quartz lens didn’t change the ability to cut, I still am only getting 2mm through the plywood. I’m making sure to use a dedicated power socket for the Emblaser 2 as well. I can’t think of anything else.

Edit: More information:

the 2mm depth is the ‘deepest’ cut I’m getting. At some places it’s only 1mm. I’m using my craft knife to test the depth and marking how deep in it goes, however because I know the knife becomes too thick I change over to paper to test how deep it goes and it is indeed 2mm at it’s deepest.

More tests using the default settings: no change.
More tests increasing number of passes using default setting: no change
More tests increasing number of passes AND using 0.25mm z step per pass: negligable change.

Took out the lens, cleaned it, made sure to inspect quality before re-inserting. Re-did ‘laser accuracy’ test (which was not easy in LightBurn compared to LaserWeb…) and re-did the calibration test. Made sure to use suitably sized card/paper to get an accurate offset.

The only thing I’ve noticed is that there is a significant amount of charcoal which might be blocking the laser. I am unsure if this is MORE charcoal than other people get when they cut the same material though.

Edit 2:

I decide to test if my plywood might have absorbed moisture from the air. So I put my laserPly wood in the oven for an hour at 100 degrees. It definitely had some moisture, however after making sure the wood was cooled off and dry I did another test cut. Made sure the wood was flat while the cut was happening. The centre was weighted down, I checked the entirety of the board, it was flat.

It still. Won’t. Get past. 2mm.

It won’t even leave a mark on the opposite side.

I re-did the tests of adding Z-step per pass on this newly dried material.
I re-did the tests of increased passes.

I flipped the material around, just in case, (In fact, I have been lasering multiple different pieces of this laserPly, I just specifically tested the same piece both sides to prove a point)

I have been taking good care of my Emblaser 2.


With the help of the amazing people at Darkly Labs we were able to get it working 100%

I brought it in. Background: My Emblaser 2 was one of the pre-order ones so that is a bit of extra information.

Replaced the lens holding (it was originally the older version which was updated)
Improved lens clean (What I thought was a clean… was horrible)
Fixed/replaced the air assist (I didn’t notice the air assist wasn’t working at 100% but they did.
Plus other fixes.


I just fitted a new quartz lens this morning and set it up to cut 3mm (mine is actually 2.85mm)  Plyco.

This is how I do it in LightBurn.

  1. set up a job of say a 25mm square. 

  2. If the material plus base height is 13mm (Base 10mm + Material 3mm)  then fudge the figures and set the combination of base and material in LightBurn to 8mm.

3.  Run the job at say 300mm/min 3 passes.

  1. Move the square 30mm to the right in LightBurn.

  2. Set a new height adding 1mm to the original setting. (so you are incrementing by 1mm each time)

  3. Run the job again.

  4. Repeat steps 4 to 6 until your base height plus material gets up to say 17mm.

At some stage of the process you should see the material cut right through and it with mine it was a series of squares.

I just pick the middle of the range as my new calibration setting.

For example. If the best cut occurred at 11mm then my new calibration setting would be -2.  (13mm-11mm=2)


If you have any questions regarding this process yell out.


Cheers  Daryl


Yes. I do a series of circles increasing the height by 1mm. I set the beam to cut the test circles along the edge of a scrap piece of ply so that I can visually inspect the depth of cut. I don’t bother with the mats any more I just use white card. I’ve found that the optimal height for 3mm ply on my E2 turns out to be 11 - 12mm.

Hope you sort it out.


hi Michael,

Just wondering which type of  plywood you are cutting. I purchased all four of the 'Laser Friendly" plywoods from Plyco - Beech (2.2mm), Bamboo(2.5mm and 1.5mm), Poplar(3mm) and Hoop (3mm and1.5mm). I did this to gauge the cutting efficiency of each one. By far the easiest to cut (and incidentally the cheapest) was the 3mm Poplar.The worst was the Hoop Pine, I’ve given up on it - even the 1.5mm is hard to cut. The 2.2mm Beech and the Bamboo are the best for fine cutting such as earrings etc but both are more expensive. I would be interested to find out if it’s the Hoop Pine you are struggling with, because you aren’t alone.

Hi Michael,

I have played around with the EM2 now for about 6-8 months and I have now found my way of working. I try and avoid MDF and I have found that birch ply doesn’t cut very well. The best for me is poplar ply and I can cut 3.2mm (1/8th) poplar without any problems although I usually use 3 passes to get a really clean cut. I have found that if you can cut something with a Stanley knife easily then it will cut easily on the EM2, if it is a devil to cut then it will be on the laser too. For what I am using my machine for card works the best and it beats MDF hands down - it only needs one cut and it cuts perfectly every time. It is all about knowing your machine and the best materials to use with it. Materials do differ from supplier to supplier too, one batch can be great whilst another can be a real pain. I am in the UK so it may be no good giving you details of where I get my wood.

Hope you achieve the right result but my advice would be go and get some poplar ply, it is so much easier to work with.

Good luck,


Hey all,

Thank you everyone for the information, I brought it in to Darkly Labs and got it sorted out. I made an edit to the post and gave extra information.

The TL;DR is that it one part my job cleaning the lens was no where near as good as it could have been, and the other part was my machine was one of the Pre-Order ones and updates had been made which vastly improved the quality. With both of those working together, my machine is better than ever!

Hi Michael,

I had the same trouble with my E2 losing power despite repeated deep cleanings and constant recalibrations. The Darkly team exchanged my original pre-order head with the current one and its now back to working perfectly :slight_smile: When they pulled it apart the old one had some loose wiring apparently. 

Great tips about calibration guys, I use magnets to support my work too so Lightburns calibration wizard helps but is not perfect. Hopefully they patch-in a setting for you to add your own bed height instead of using the 10mm mats as a std.