Experts: What is Laser Cutting vs. Dye Cutting?

Hello experienced woodworkers :)
I am working on a special project (I'm actually a textile artist), and I need to have some masonite or hardboard cut into a specific size and shape (small squares) in some quantity.
I will have to shop this out to someone, and I need to have as ultra smooth edges as I can get with exact size. Is what I'm looking for called laser cutting or dye cutting, and what is the difference?
Where would I look to find someone like this to do this type of work?
Thanks for any kind help :)
L&D
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Laser is usually driven by a computer-it burns away the material. Die cutting is done with thin metal strips in the shape of the final product-then pressure is applied. (Cookie cutters are "die" cut.)
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Thanks Greybeard, do you know if 1/8" or 1/25" thick hardboard/masonite be too much for a dye cut? Would this give me a smoother cut than laser?
I appreciate your comments :)
L&D

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Not quite an answer to your question, but any woodworker with a good table saw and top-notch blade, a Forrest WWII, for example, could probably do the job for less expense than either of your alternatives, depending on the size of the squares, of course.
I'd guess about than an hour to cut several hundred squares of any size from 1" to, say 4" if you brought the hardboard. And the edges would be smooth as silk.
'course, everything takes more time and costs more than the estimate. :-)
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Vince Heuring ECE Department, University of Colorado - Boulder
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Thanks for responding, this sounds exactly what I am look for, and if it can be done with traditional methods I'm all for it :). Specifically I am looking for 4"x4" squares, uniformity being very important . I am trying to decide between 2 different types of board as described here:
One type is described as follows:

16 x 20" Painting panels made from special (approximately 5/32" thick) compressed wood and covered with an even textured canvas that has an acid-free, all media priming. >>>>>
The second type is described: "Canvas Mounted Hardboard Panel": Crafted on a 3.2 mm thick, non-direction composite hardboard (similar to masonite). The 100% cotton, acid-free all media primed cotton canvas surface Size 20x24" panel.
I would probably need 100-150 initially, with the ability to re-order (unsure yet of the duration between orders yet>)
Is this do-able as you describe? Thanks for your input :)
L&D
wrote:

shape
smooth
laser
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Talk to David Donoho at http:\\www.teccut.com He is laser-cutting complex parts for me in 1/16" x 4 x 24 sheets of basswood for about $4 a sheet. The kerf is .007", my biggest part is 16" long and comes out within .002" of design. I did my own CAD drawing so there was no setup charge. He can recommend a material for your project.
Die cutting has problems with sharp corners, slight wavy lines, and a whopping charge to build the die. Production is much less expensive.
Sawing them on a table saw is easy, sawing them accurately requires skill and patience.

smooth
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Thanks, I will check out his website--it looks like I don't really require die-cutting which is good news!
L&D

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What quantity, it makes a big difference. Give dimensions.

Laser burns material and has cutting beam guided by some sort of motion control system. Die Cutting uses steel blades embeded in die board (really great plywood) that is forced into material by a full revolution press or a hyd press against a steel score plate.

Where do you live? There is a laser shop in GR Michigan iirc and I know that there is a die cutter in Traverse City Mi. A web search should find someone close to you.

Wes
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Sounds to me like a guy with a table saw would be a better bet than either. When you say "exact size", bear in mind that there is no such thing as exact.

smooth
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Hi, Look online for waterjet or laser cutting. Both of these processes can usually deliver +/-.005 to .010 inch tolerances, tighter if you ask for it and don't mind paying a little extra.
I've used both for metal, plastic and glass and it works great. I've read that it works well on wood as well, the waterjet uses very little water and if you mask the surfaces you shouldn't experiences any problems. The lasers will burn the materail slightly but it is easy to sand off.
Do a search for waterjet cutting, laser cutting in the Google.com directory listings or you can also find many listings in the Thomas Register, go here: http://www.thomasregister.com /
Good Luck,
Phil
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I agree with some of the others that a saw is likely the way to go for this particular project (though it might not be). In the event that you are looking for water jet or laser cutting job shops to do the work for you, you can look a the following directories:
Look here for waterjet shops in the USA (And many of them have lasers and other equipment):
http://www.waterjets.org/waterjet_jobshops.html
Look here for waterjet shops around the world (Again, with many of them having other equipment also):
http://www.waterjets.org/international_waterjet_jobshops.html
To learn more about waterjets in general, visit:
http://www.waterjets.org
- Carl Web Master Waterjet Web Reference (the above mentioned site).
snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net (Phil) wrote in message

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Thanks to everyone for your kind and fast responses--I will continue doing research using all of your suggestions :)
L&D

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I would try GlobalSpec http://www.globalspec.com /
You can search for waterjet cutting services by capabilities and location. You can find suppliers and discuss your needs one to one

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