Engrave and Cut

This page provides a detailed explanation of the way I use TechShop's laser engravers to engrave and cut a tile.

Prepare material

I'm using thin Acrylic, a thermoplastic which tends to deform when heated. If this gets out of hand, the plastic will run into the laser head, causing all sorts of problems. So, I need to hold it down during engraving. For the details, see my Engraving Jig page.

Set up engraver

I've found a combination of materials, tooling, and settings that produces distinct yet comfortable features in a single engraving pass:

  • Epilog Fusion (120 Watt)

  • settings: 600 dpi, 0.35" past the focal point
    • raster: 80% speed, 90% power, Stucki dithering, bottom-up
    • vector: 15% speed, 90% power, 100% frequency

Setting the focus down a bit (about 0.35" past the focal point) allows for warping, softens the features, and smoothes the floor. Move the laser pointer to the upper left corner of the work area, then set the origin.

Note: The settings given on this page are for an Epilog Fusion 120; on any other device, YMMV! In fact, an Epilog Helix 60 took far longer to engrave the tile and the depth was still totally inadequate.

Engrave content

The engraving pass takes about 30 minutes. Setup, cutting the holes and edges, and shutdown add about five minutes each.

  • open sample_lc.pdf (Laser Combo)
  • make only Layer 2 (Cells, Lines) visible
  • hit Ctrl-P
  • check for "Do Not Scale", "No Auto-Rotate"
  • click upper-left dot in positioning diagram
  • click "Setup", then click "Preferences"
  • check for "CO2", "No Auto-Focus"
  • set "Raster"
  • set "Engrave Direction" to Bottom-Up
  • set "Image Dithering" to Stucki
  • set Resolution (600 dpi), Speed (80%), and Power (90%)
  • click the Advanced tab
  • click Save to record the settings in a file
  • click OK, Print, and Print
  • wait for the upload slider to finish
  • try an "air pass" (with cover lifted)
  • if it looks OK, etch the content

Cut holes and edges

  • make only Layer 1 (Edges, Holes) visible
  • hit Ctrl-P
  • check for "Do Not Scale", "No Auto-Rotate"
  • click upper-left dot in positioning diagram
  • click "Setup", then click "Preferences"
  • check for "CO2", "No Auto-Focus"
  • set "Vector"
  • set Speed (15%), Power (90%), and Frequency (100%)
  • click OK, Print, and Print
  • wait for the upload slider to finish
  • try an "air pass" (with cover lifted)
  • if it looks OK, cut the holes and edges

Note: Unfortunately, the 1/16" acrylic sheet isn't robust enough to support the use of 3-hole binding. So, regretfully, I am leaving the holes off for now...

Post-processing

  • Clean the tile using an old toothbrush and water.
    Some round toothpicks may also be useful here.
    Don't scrub the engraved surface with your fingertips!

  • Sand down any sharp outer edges.


This wiki page is maintained by Rich Morin, an independent consultant specializing in software design, development, and documentation. Please feel free to email comments, inquiries, suggestions, etc!

Topic revision: r22 - 11 Feb 2016, RichMorin
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