Updated: Jun 9, 2022
Whether you just got your first CO2 laser, its on the way, or you are thinking about getting one, here are some of my favorite materials sources I wish I had when I started...all in one place!
* I have a Glowforge so for this post I am specifically going to refer to the Glowforge
*This post contains affiliate links! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. And these purchases help me make content like this! I take the time to gather everything in one easy to find place so you don't have to spend hours searching!
What can I cut?
The Glowforge allows for a decent range of materials but did you know there are materials you cannot, absolutely should not, and probably should not cut? For example, you can cut wood, but some woods contain glues that do not cut well or can even increase chances of a fire. No bueno. And you absolutely should not cut most synthetic leathers as they contain PVC which creates harmful emissions in the laser that can damage your body and the machine. And you may already know the glowforge cannot cut metals. But don;t worry there are so many great options out there!
join a glowforge or CO2 laser group on social media! My favorite is "Friendliest Glowforge Group on Facebook" (thats actually their name)
My absolute favorite materials to get started:
Proofgrade from Michaels
Honorable mention: CM's Acrylics
Proofgrade from Michaels
Yes. The craft store. While I rarely use proofgrade materials now, I started with ZERO experience with a laser. Proofgrade materials are pricey but great for learning and better understanding your machine. It is also great to have on hand if you run into any problems to test the glowforge and possibly help diagnose the problem. As of march 2022 regular coupons apply to proofgrade materials at Michael's! (unlike Cricut) That means 40% off one item email offers, that regular 20% they have been doing, military discounts, etc. all apply making the materials. They still higher than non proof grade with the discounts, but a much better deal!
2. Smokey Hill Designs
I seriously cant recommend this place enough! The materials, service, shipping time, all so great! They are the closest I have found to proofgrade and a great first step into custom settings. The website is easy to navigate and each wood product that compares to proofgrade has a recommended starting point for laser settings (specifically for glowforge!) My favorite wood is maple. I personally just love a high quality blonde/honey wood, but I frequently use their white birch as well. Its very affordable and cuts great in my experience.
3. Woodpeckers on Amazon
My favorite quick ship source for wood rounds! If you are anything like me I already had to wait on my laser to arrive. I have no desire to wait weeks to use it waiting on materials to arrive...enter woodpeckers. They have an independent website as well as amazon, and their amazon qualifies for prime! Yaaaassss!!! The 12" are my go to due to the size of my laser bed, but they have a great variety in sizes. I have used these just as sign backing as well as engraved (pictured!)
Engrave settings=Thick Maple Plywood on Glowforge Plus
4. CM's Acrylics
Don't be fooled. CM's Acrylics did not get honorable mention for lack of quality! They are my favorite affordable online store for acrylics! But Acrylics in general are not a beginner friendly product. They are a bit temperamental and will likely need some custom settings. If you feel ready for it, go for it! I love their color selections and just bought a little stack of pastels for spring! And huge bonus, free shipping over $30!