Material Selection Guide for Laser Cutting and Waterjet Cutting

If you are new to laser cut sheet metal, waterjet cut carbon fiber, and CNC router fabrication, we’ve created this guide to help you select the right material for your project.

Please keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive, but it should help point you in the right direction. Our team of Application Engineers is always available to help answer questions too, email us anytime – support@sendcutsend.com

Placement: Outdoors

Material Recommended Comments
Aluminum (5052)  Yes Aluminum will do well outside but will turn a dull grey and oxidize over time
Brass Not recommended outdoors unless coated or polished. Will patina and tarnish easily.
Copper Copper is great for decorative outdoor use if you prefer a green patina
HDPE Yes

HDPE is great for impact resistance and low moisture absorption. It’s a great alternative to wood in harsh outdoor environments.

Mild Steel Mild steel will rust quickly if left uncoated.
Stainless Steel (316)  Yes Our preferred material for outdoor applications when no coating will be applied
Carbon Fiber Not recommended for long-term outdoor use since UV rays can damage the epoxy part of the composite
ACM Excellent for outdoor usage.
Titanium Very stable, will not corrode or patina. Will oxidize slightly.

Usage: Signage or Decoration

MaterialRecommendedComments
AluminumYesAluminum is relatively soft and flexible, and will turn a dull grey if left uncoated.
BrassYesBrass is great for decorative use. We recommend adding a clear coat or polish to prevent patina.
BirchYesBirch is perfect for cabinetry, art, and craftwork.
CopperYesCopper is great for decorative use. We recommend adding a clear coat or polish to prevent patina.
BrassYesBrass is great for decorative use. We recommend adding a clear coat or polish to prevent patina.
Mild Steel Mild steel will rust quickly if left uncoated.
Stainless Steel Our preferred material for signage and decorative items that will not be painted or coated.
Carbon Fiber Cost-prohibitive for decorative uses.
ACMYesExcellent for signage.
Titanium Cost-prohibitive for decorative uses.

Usage: High Strength

 

MaterialRecommendedComments
ABS This plastic has great impact and abrasion resistance, high tensile strength and heat and chemical resistance.
Aluminum (6061, 7075) Yes6061 and 7075 series Aluminum is much stronger and stiffer than our standard 5052 series. 7075 Aluminum is comparable to titanium for strength.
Brass Brass is great for decorative use, but is very soft and ductile. Not recommended for any application subject to load or bending forces.
Copper Copper is great for decorative use, but is very soft and ductile. Not recommended for any application subject to load or bending forces.
Delrin® 150Yes
High strength, great abrasion resistance, yet is still machinable.
Mild Steel (4130, AR500) YesOur 4130 series and AR500 steel are very high strength and offer significant advantages over standard mild steel (A36).
Stainless Steel YesSignificantly stronger than mild steel, with increased weight. Will not corrode or rust.
Carbon Fiber YesOur highest strength-to-weight material. Incredibly strong and rigid. Not recommended for use in temperatures over 140 degrees F.
ACM Not recommended for high-strength or load-bearing applications.
Titanium YesOne of our highest strength-to-weight materials. Incredibly strong and rigid.
 

Still not sure which material to use?

Try out our random sample pack! We’ll include a random assortment of our most popular materials, in a variety of thicknesses.