Materials

Big Blue Saw has a large variety of materials to choose from, over 70 at last count. Many first time customers have a hard time deciding which material to choose. Aluminum 5052 or Stainless Steel 316? Black acrylic or acetal?

The truth is most projects can be done with 6061 aluminum, 304 stainless, cold roll steel, or clear acrylic. Our customers have found that each of these four fills a unique niche.

Here's a chart that ranks the four materials against each other in terms of cost, appearance, and specific strength (also known as strength-to-weight ratio). 4 is best, 1 is worst.

  Cost Appearance Specific Strength
Clear Acrylic 4 3 1
Aluminum 6061 2 2 4
Stainless Steel 304 1 4 2
Carbon Steel 3 1 3

 It's worth noting that though we've ranked them against each other in terms of appearance, none of these materials look particularly bad. Stainless steel is more durable than aluminum, and thus holds its finish better. If you need a transparent material, then, of course, a metal won't work at all and you need a plastic like clear acrylic.

Cold roll steel doesn't come out on top of any of the above categories, but it's still useful. Why? It is harder (good for sliding or wearing parts), denser, and can be welded more easily than the other materials. It's also magnetic.

Acrylic is the least expensive of the materials on the list, in part because it can be laser cut. The metric thicknesses, like 3 mm (0.118 inches) and 6 mm (0.236 inches) are less expensive than their inch equivalents.

If you're considering But Need Try
Aluminum 6061 Better formability (ability to bend the material into shape) Aluminum 5052
Aluminum 6061 Better electrical conductivity Copper 110
Clear Acrylic Higher strength Clear Polycarbonate, Acetal, or UHMW-PE
Stainless Steel 304 Maximum corrosion resistance (like in salt water environments) Stainless Steel 316
Stainless Steel 304 Lower cost Aluminum or one of the metallic appearance acrylics (Brushed Bright Nickel, for example)

Of course, there are a few materials we offer that that don't appear on any of these charts: various kinds of wood, leather, and fabric. If you're considering these, you probably already have a good idea of what you need.

As always, if you don't see your material on our list, just ask, and we'll try to accommodate your needs.

Upload your design and get an instant quote on any of our materials.

 



Multiple Materials

Acetal

Aluminum

Brass

CR Steel

HR Steel

Stainless Steel

Black Foam

White Foam

Open Cell Foam

Carbon Fiber

Clear Polycarbonate

Silicone Foam

Polycarbonate

 

CategoryMaterialDescription Cutting processAvailable Thicknesses, Inch
AluminumAluminum 5052An alloy that is strong, yet can be formed and bent.Waterjet0.02, 0.025, 0.032, 0.04, 0.05, 0.063, 0.08, 0.09, 0.1, 0.125, 0.1875, 0.249, 0.375
Aluminum 6061A good general purpose, high strength aerospace aluminum alloy.Waterjet0.016, 0.02, 0.025, 0.032, 0.04, 0.05, 0.063, 0.08, 0.09, 0.1, 0.125, 0.16, 0.19, 0.25, 0.3125, 0.375, 0.5, 0.625, 0.75, 0.875, 1
Aluminum 7075 T6A high strength aluminum alloy.Waterjet0.063, 0.125, 0.19, 0.25, 0.375, 0.5
CompositesCarbon FiberRigid carbon fiber composite material with smooth finish, plain weaveWaterjet0.0625, 0.125
Acrylic PlasticAcrylic Plastic, ClearAn inexpensive plastic used for decorative purposes and where high strength is not required.Laser0.06, 0.08, 0.118, 0.125, 0.177, 0.236, 0.25, 0.354, 0.472, 0.708
Acrylic Plastic, WhiteOpaque white acrylic, suitable for various decorative, artistic, and architectural purposes.Laser0.06, 0.118
Acrylic, Opaque BlackOpaque black acrylic, suitable for various decorative, artistic, and architectural purposes.Laser0.118, 0.236
Acrylic, Frosted P95Frosted translucent acrylic.Laser0.118
Acrylic, Black/WhiteOpaque engravable plastic, black color with a white background. More info...Laser0.061
Acrylic, Brushed Bright Nickel/BlackOpaque engravable plastic, nickel metallic with a black background. More info...Laser0.118
Acrylic, Brushed Antique Gold/BlackOpaque engravable plastic, gold metallic with a black background. More info...Laser0.061
Acrylic, Brushed Copper Penny/BlackOpaque engravable plastic, copper metallic with a black background. More info...Laser0.061
Acrylic, Brushed Stainless Steel/BlackOpaque engravable plastic, stainless steel metallic with a black background. More info...Laser0.061
Mechanical/Structural PlasticABS Plastic, WhiteA heat resistant plastic with good tensile strength.Waterjet0.06
ABS Plastic, BlackA glossy plastic with good tensile strength and stiffness.Laser0.25
Acetal Plastic, BlackA plastic with good tensile and wear characteristics.Laser0.03, 0.06, 0.093, 0.125, 0.187, 0.25, 0.375
Acetal Plastic, WhiteA plastic with good tensile and wear characteristics.Laser0.03, 0.062, 0.1875
PETG Plastic, ClearA plastic with good tensile strength and impact resistance.Laser0.02, 0.063, 0.0938, 0.125, 0.25
Polycarbonate Plastic, ClearA clear, tough plastic used where tensile strength and impact resistance is important.Waterjet0.03, 0.04, 0.06, 0.08, 0.093, 0.118, 0.125, 0.177, 0.22, 0.236, 0.25, 0.375, 0.5, 0.75
Polypropylene Plastic, WhiteA fatigue and heat-resistant plastic.Laser0.125
UHMW-PE Plastic, WhiteA soft plastic with outstanding toughness and chemical resistance.Laser0.125
Gasket MaterialCork BlendBrown cork blended with Buna-N for gaskets or decoration.Laser0.063
High Temperature GasketOil- and water-resistant gasket for high temperature applications.Laser0.031
Treated Paper GasketPaper-based gasket with some resistance to oils.Laser0.016, 0.031
Buna-N RubberHigh temperature, oil resistant rubber.Laser0.0313
WoodWood Laminate, BlackA durable semi-gloss laminate with a high-density fiberboard core. More info...Laser0.27
Uncoated Wood Laminate, BirchHigh quality birch laminate, sanded smooth, around a high-density fiberboard core. More info...Laser0.23
CherryA moderately dense harwood with attractive grain and color. More info...Laser0.15
PoplarA fast-growing, flexible, light-colored wood. More info...Laser0.15
Red OakA moderately dense hardwood with attractive grain and color. More info...Laser0.15
HardboardA dark, dense, engineered wood product. More info...Laser0.135
Carbon SteelCold Finished Steel 1018Slightly less strong than cold rolled steel, but with a similar finish.Waterjet0.125, 0.1875, 0.25, 0.3125, 0.375, 0.5, 0.625, 0.75, 0.875, 1
Cold Rolled Steel A366/1008A strong general purpose steel with a clean surface finish.Waterjet0.0239, 0.0299, 0.0359, 0.048, 0.0598, 0.075, 0.0897, 0.105, 0.125
Hot Rolled Steel A36Typically more economical than cold rolled or cold finished steel, but may have a mill scale covering, and not as strong.Waterjet0.1875, 0.25, 0.375, 0.5, 0.625, 0.75, 1
Hot Rolled Steel 1045Typically more economical than cold rolled or cold finished steel, but may have a mill scale covering, and not as strong.Waterjet0.25, 0.375, 0.5, 0.625, 0.75, 1
Hot Rolled Steel A569/ASTM A1011Typically more economical than cold rolled or cold finished steel, but may have a mill scale covering, and not as strong.Waterjet0.06, 0.075, 0.105, 0.125, 0.135
Stainless And Alloy SteelStainless Steel T-304A good general purpose stainless steel.Waterjet0.018, 0.024, 0.03, 0.036, 0.048, 0.06, 0.075, 0.105, 0.12, 0.1875, 0.25, 0.3125, 0.375, 0.5, 0.625, 0.75, 1
Stainless Steel 316A stainless steel for marine and other highly corrosive environments.Waterjet0.018, 0.024, 0.03, 0.036, 0.048, 0.06, 0.075, 0.105, 0.12, 0.135, 0.1875, 0.25, 0.3125, 0.375, 0.5, 0.625, 0.75, 1
Chrome-Moly Steel 4130A high strength steel alloy.Waterjet0.125
CopperCopper Alloy 110A copper alloy suitable for a variety of electronic and decorative purposes.Waterjet0.062, 0.125
FoamEVA Foam, BlueA lightweight, closed cell foam for a variety of decorative and practical applications. More info...Laser0.22