Big  Blue Saw


General Updates


Steel remains one of our most popular materials, so we've decided to add a few new options to our lineup of options in our online quoting system. The following steel materials are now available:

  • Cold Finished Steel 1018
  • Cold Rolled Steel A366/1008
  • Hot Rolled Steel A36
  • Hot Rolled Steel 1045
  • Hot Rolled Steel A569/ASTM A1011

These are available in stock materials ranging from as thin as 0.024 inch all the way up to 1 inch thick.

About Steel

We have three main varieties of steel: hot rolled, cold rolled, and cold finished. Cold rolled and cold finished steel will generally have the smoothest surface finish, and will look the best on applications that need to look good. Hot rolled steel is usually less expensive, but can have an irregular oxide coating (mill scale) on the outside.

For comparison purposes, here is a chart of the relative strengths of the various kinds of steel.

TypeUltimate Tensile Strength, psi. Higher is Better
Cold Finished Steel 1018 63,800
Cold Rolled Steel A366/1008 38,000 - 51,900
Hot Rolled Steel A36 58,000 - 79,800
Hot Rolled Steel 1045 95,000
Hot Rolled Steel A569/ASTM A1011 30,000 - 50,000

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 steel parts.

Photo by KILAM Photography


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.

 CostAppearanceSpecific 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 consideringBut NeedTry
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.


Customer George Collins recently wrote in to tell us about his experience at RoboGames. His robots were built with parts from Big Blue Saw.

His walking robot Scurrier, shown above, was beat by 1/100th of a second for second place in its category. In the autonomous fighting robot category, George's Decapitron took second.

Read more about Decapitron, Scurrier, and many other wonderful things at George's website.

Says the talented Mr. Collins regarding Big Blue Saw:

My robots are so much better now that I know how to cut parts. I used to make them from peanut tins and plastic shoe boxes. Thank you.

What cool things have you built with Big Blue Saw? Let us know in the comments section or by e-mailing


At Big Blue Saw, we try our best to give our customers what they want. Based on intense Facebook discussion, it's clear that our customers want aluminum 5052. So, we're proud to announce that we're putting it on sale this month, April 23 to 26, 2012.

Place your online order of 1/8 inch thick aluminum 5052 parts during the sale and you will automatically receive the discount normally reserved for orders of 100 pieces or more. If you only need to order 1 or 2 pieces, this means a savings of up to 70%! And, if you are new to Big Blue Saw, this is a great way to see what we can help you achieve.

Our customers chose aluminum 5052 and it's easy to see why. 5052 is strong, light weight, and easy to weld. Its high corrosion resistance makes it ideal for use near the ocean or for parts that are exposed to the elements. Many people prize 5052 for another important characteristic, its ability to be bent and formed. Unlike 6061 alloy, 5052 can be bent with a fairly tight radius without cracking.

Take advantage of this sale and spread the word. Find out how Big Blue Saw can take your designs and deliver them to your doorstep with a few clicks of the mouse.

Acrylic plastic is one of our most popular materials, and with good reason. It's inexpensive, and looks great when laser cut.

That's why we're happy today to announce 6 new thicknesses of clear acrylic plastic in our online quoting system ready to be used to make your design. The new sizes are 0.06 inch (1.5 mm), 0.08 inch (2 mm), 0.125 inch, 0.177 (4.5 mm), 0.25 inch, and 0.354 inch (9mm).


In the image above, you can see the various material thicknesses. From left to right in the top row is 0.354 inch, 0.25 inch, 0.236 inch, and 0.177 inch clear acrylic. The bottom row has 0.125 inch, 0.118 inch, 0.08 inch, and 0.06 inch clear acrylic.

Most acrylic fans know that the clear polymer is generally sold in metric thicknesses. However, our new offerings include two standard inch thicknesses, 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick.


Shown for comparison, a quarter is about 0.069 inches (1.75 millimeters) thick, and a dime is 0.053 inches (1.35 millimeters) thick. So a dime and a quarter together are about the same thickness as our 0.118 inch (3 mm) thick material.

As always, let us know if you would like your parts made from any material that's not in our online quoting system, and we'll do our best to accommodate you.