Is ABS two-color plastic safe to Laser Engrave and Cut?

I thought ABS plastics was not safe for laser engraving and cutting because it produces a cyanide gas?

But I keep finding products with this material description.

Here is an Amazon link to a dual tone ABS plastic for Laser Engraving & Cutting, but is it a safe material or not recommended?


Personally I would avoid lasering anything purchased from Amazon. Much stuff on there is miss-labeled. Also their prices are pretty steep. Look at local plastics suppliers. I personally like Regal Plastics, but there’s also Allied Plastic and a few others locally. There are also specialty laser and sublimation blank websites which will have better product quality and prices.

Yes, it produces a small amount of hydrogen cyanide gas when burnt, and generally likes to melt more than cut or engrave. You can see this in the comments for that material where someone is describing how it curls when trying to engrave it.

We don’t allow abs on our lasers, but you should be able to find plenty of other materials, or you can use one of the cnc machines to engrave this particular material.


…the by-products are a concern. The “B” becomes a gas described as “carcinogenic to humans”. The “A” becomes a gas described as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. The “S” becomes a gas described as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” (another page describes it as " known carcinogen"). The “S” is also apparently toxic.

If you do decide to laser ABS be sure to wait several seconds for the gases to clear. Were I in your shoes I would not laser cut ABS.


Why do you want to laser cut ABS?

We have an epilog laser cutter at our school.

I’ve recommended the user use an engravable plastic from the Johnson’s Plastics ( company, but this is the second time they’ve brought me an ABS dual color plastics material purchased off Amazon.

I wanted to confirm that ABS is an unsafe material for laser cutting before turning away this user.

You should really explain to them why ABS is not okay… tell them to stop being cheap :joy:

1 Like

Tell them its like clear plastic vs glass. Its not just because you can see through it thay they are always interchangeable. For safety you might choose non shattering material (not glass), or for scratch resistance you might choose glass.

Its far better to describe WHY we made a selection on a material and price is way farther down the list.

Good luck on getting your procurement person to understand this.

1 Like

Yeah I definitely wouldn’t cut that in a school environment. Nobody wants poisoned children.

1 Like

i have lasered 2 color ABS with great results at the space on the epilog zing. the thunder lasers were too strong and butchered the rasters.

this sheet is clear acrylic with .3mm layers of colored ABS on either side

seen here on our smart badges for QuakeCon

and the dumb version

ABS is not on our banned list, it just stinks and requires more venting than acrylic. -wasnt on our list when I used the laserable abs from inventables.

3d printed abs should be WATCHED VERY CAREFULLY as it melts at a way lower temp and turns goopy. which isnt fun when its on fire.

but alas, this thread has already devolved into “its gonna poison your kids! dont do it!”

1 Like

Its not an unsafe material. just needs more venting time.

Yes, it currently is: Laser Cutter Materials - Dallas Makerspace


well then. when and why did we add that? it definitely cuts and rasters well. and according to the wikis posted here doesn’t produce chlorine gas like our list says.

I fixed my post to reflect my old info

1 Like

Thanks! And I’m not sure… It was there when I was trained. It’s certainly something we could being up with the committee.

I can’t track down the original, but the ABS note has existed on the ATX Wiki since at least 2011, in 2015 DMS copied that page over to our wiki (with ABS banned) and it’s been that way ever since.

Fwiw, I’ve worked with ABS before and don’t see a problem with thin material, perhaps <= 1/8".


So I guess you don’t process any materials on a laser then. Anything you cut or engrave on a laser produces harmful substances and/or carcinogens.

Look at epilog’s website. They provide material settings for “plastic” but I don’t see ABS specifically called out for their CO2s. Trotec even has a page about processing ABS and why you may want to use ABS, but nothing negative about doing so. If someone brings in a piece of plywood, do you make them supply an MDS for that specific plywood and the glue used to manufacturer it? Doubt it, so why would you force them to source their plastic materials from a specific vendor? Yes, some are better than others and some may not produce the best results. The key is sufficient ventilation.

Burning ABS produces Hydrogen Cyanide, aka Prussic Acid, which is extremely poisonous.

While the proportions are small, DMS has taken a conservative approach to not rely on our ventilation system to evacuate all the combustion components. It’s an abundance of caution, but not unreasonable in our environment. We’re dealing with users who are not experienced and will open the laser as soon as cutting stops, or sometimes even earlier.

1 Like

Most two-tone sign materials are acrylic and can be cut. Did not know they made ABS versions. I assume that is for routers.

I got mine at EStreet Plastics:


There are more variables to consider then just HCN its material behavior flamability, mess and clean up as well.

  • Smell (…)
  • Poor cut quality - it melts instead of vaporizing. It’s difficult to get a usable edge
  • Buildup - The goop that lasercutting ABS leaves on the cutting-bed can ignite and scorch otherwise safe materials. This can also result in re-depositing ABS onto other materials. I wouldn’t want ABS goop on my wood cuts.

Provided the test conditions and findings/results were consistent and repeatable across a range of ABS products, (…)

The issues I highlighted (and which were mentioned in the previous thread) were not only related to health. People misrepresent the health risks all the time but I don’t get too worked up about it… after all, the oxidative stress could increase my risk of cancer!

1 Like