Shadow foam on lasers

Hey all,

I cut out some foam drawer inserts by hand for my socket set and it was a serious pain, so for the even smaller socket set I’m leaning towards using the laser cutter. Everything I’ve been able to google so far seems to point to the foam being safe for the laser, but I wanted to check in and see if anyone can give me something closer to a definitive answer. I haven’t been able to figure out the exact type of foam it’s made of, but the manufacturer of the “shadow foam” is here:

Does anyone know if this stuff is gonna be okay in the laser?

So I viewed the company’s reseller list and amazon was listed. From there it states the foam is polyethylene. So I found on the ULS website, the maker of our lasers, this:

Polyethylene Foam

Polyethylene Foam Overview

Polyethylene foam (PE foam or PEF), sometimes referred to as expanded polyethylene (EPE), is a strong and stiff closed cell foam. Laser processing of polyethylene foam is possible with either a 9.3 or 10.6 micron CO2 laser with little appreciable difference in process quality. The energy from a 1.06 micron fiber laser is not readily absorbed by polyethylene foam and is not recommended for laser processing. Laser cutting of polyethylene foam with a CO2 laser creates a clean cut with no discoloration. Laser engraving of polyethylene foam with a CO2 laser produces depth with defined features. Marking of a polyethylene foam is not recommended using the 9.3, 10.6, or 1.06 micron wavelength.

Applicable Laser Processes for Polyethylene Foam

Laser Cutting
Laser Engraving


Thanks so much @dash3811! I looked at Amazon but may not have seen the right listing (or may have just missed it). Excited to give this a try!

Please take photos and note settings to share with the rest of us!

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I’m interested also. I had considered cnc routing it prior. The hold down process would have been painful

@deathraylabs Yup! Will definitely post some pictures and settings once it’s done. Working on designing the files this week, but should be able to get them cut this weekend.

@JoeN you’re exactly right about pinning down this foam. It is very soft and flexible and would be super hard to cut with a router. I did see a video from Laura Kampf ( where she cut foam inserts on a CNC, but the foam she used was much more dense than what I have, but that may be worth looking in to.


How thick is it?

The part I’ll be cutting is 1/2" thick. That’s the black layer, and the red layer goes below it and is what the tools are resting on, but doesn’t get cut.

Quick update on the tool foam situation and a request for some help…

Did a bit of testing yesterday and ran my first foam tray. Worked okay, but l am hoping there’s a way to improve the process a little bit. Here’s what it looked like straight after the cut:

Settings I used: 60% power, 2% speed, 700ppi, 0.3" height.

The cut lines in general are thicker than I had hoped, I think that’s because the foam is melting, but I wonder if my settings could have been adjusted to mitigate this melting. I thought higher power / faster speed might have helped this, but it seemed to be about the same. I don’t know if it’s possible / recommended to take multiple passes, but that may help keep the temperature down. As you can see one of the corners got super melted because it caught fire (I stopped it and let things cool down a bit before continuing), but that’s definitely a consideration too. Can anyone provide some advice in what I can change for round 2?

Also, here’s the final result. Definitely happy with how it turned out. :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing @wynd! Makes me want to go organize my tools as well. :grin:


I think it would cut well on the CNC if you brought your own piece of spoilboard and used temp fixture spray adhesive to hold it in place on that.

Ah, yeah, was thinking about that as it did curl up a bit towards the end. Do you think the settings are okay as they are or would you recommend some changes there too?

How thick is the foam?

Thickness is 1/2"

try 20% speed 60% power and 1000dpi