DIY Essentials: Is MDF Good for Laser Cutting?

There has been a huge surge in the popularity of laser cutting in the past few years. Laser cutters have become a lot more affordable and approachable to the common man. This means that the opportunity to take woodworking and DIYing, as either profession or hobby, is now open to everyone.

As a result of the increased popularity and affordability of laser-cutting machines, there has been an increase in the need for raw materials for laser cutting. We are often posed with questions about certain materials being good for laser cutting. MDF has regularly been the subject of such questions.

With such a huge gap in awareness, it is best that we address the question, “Is MDF good for laser cutting?”

When cutting MDF with a laser, there are two primary options to choose from: CO2 Laser Cutters and Diode Laser Cutters.

MDF good for laser Cutting

CO2 Laser Cutters

CO2 laser cutters are a type of gas laser cutters that emit a hot beam of infrared light at a wavelength of 10.6 micrometres. This wavelength is absorbed by most organic materials including MDF, rubber, wood etc. The laser is produced by exciting a mixture of CO2 inside a sealed tube where an electric current is applied. This makes CO2 lasers well-suited for cutting wood-based materials such as MDF.

When cutting MDF with a CO2 laser cutter, the focussed laser beam generates an immense amount of heat at the point of contact, causing the MDF to vaporize along the path. The movement of a CO2 laser cutter is controlled by a computer which ensures precise and accurate cuts.

Note: It is however important to note that using a CO2 cutter on an MDF board will create smoke, some dust and fumes which are potentially harmful. It is important to ensure proper ventilation and assure that safety measures are in place before starting the cutting process.

Diode Laser Cutters

Diode Laser Cutters are based on semiconductor technology. A Diode is the source of the laser in a diode cutter. When electricity is passed through a diode, electrons within it begin transitioning between energy states, emitting photons to create the laser.

In comparison to CO2 cutters, a diode cutter is much weaker in terms of power output. This makes it suitable for etching, marking and cutting thin boards. The upside, however, is that diode cutters are much cheaper and more affordable in comparison to CO2 cutters. You can get one at a very affordable price.

Benefits of Laser Cutting

There are several benefits to using laser cutters instead of traditional manual cutting. These are as follows:

  • Precision

    Since it is computer operated, it can create intricate and detailed cuts.

  • Speed and Efficiency

    Laser Cutting is much faster than manual cutting. This reduces time and costs.

  • Smooth Edges

    Laser cutters are great when projects require a professional finish. The laser evaporates the surface when it comes in contact making clean and smooth cuts. There is no need to sand the surface after cutting it.

  • Versatility

    Laser cutters can cut MDF sheets of various thicknesses offering flexibility in selecting the perfect size for your project.

  • Customization

    Laser Cutter is the perfect choice for making custom designs. It is most suited for all your projects and DIYing.

  • Is MDF good for Laser Engraving?

    MDF fibreboard has a high surface quality and a uniform fibre structure internally. This makes MDF suitable for laser engraving.

Can you cut MDF with any traditional laser cutter?

CO2 laser cutters and Diode cutters can easily cut through MDF, but traditional laser cutters may find it difficult to cut MDF. There is a risk of burning the MDF board and leaving uneven-rough edges. Some laser cutters may not be able to cut MDF at all.

For a laser cutter to provide the cleanest cuts, the material should have three key things. However, MDF’s biggest strengths make cutting with certain laser-cutting machines difficult.

  • Firstly, you need a compatible glue in the manufacturing of MDF.
  • Incompatible Glue: If an incompatible glue comes in contact with the laser, it may cause the board to burn or not cut at all.

  • Secondly, the material needs to be of the right density.
  • High - Density : MDF boards are just too dense making it impossible to get anything close to a beautiful cut with traditional laser cutters.

  • Thirdly, there should be no core gaps in the material.
  • No Core Gaps: The only favourable condition for laser cutting is no core gaps in the material. There are no bubbles formed when using MDF.

However, one favourable feature doesn’t override the unfavourable two. This makes traditional laser cutters incapable of cutting MDF boards with desired results.

Read More: Cut the MDF Board like A Pro with Some Effective Tips

Cutting MDF or Plywood. Which is easier with laser cutters?

MDF is much easier to cut than Plywood with recommended cutters. This is because MDF is more uniform in density in comparison to Plywood. The next cut in MDF will be as good as the last due to the uniformity in internal structure.


In conclusion, laser cutting MDF with an appropriate cutter has a wide range of benefits. It is suited for various creative- home, office or commercial space applications. Laser cutting is a new-age technology that removes the need for post-processing by creating smooth, precise, and attractive cuts.

When selecting materials for your home, or office improvement, MDF proves to be a versatile material that is durable, appealing and much easier to work with in comparison to other material options.