Custom lanterns with animals and Star Wars

Hi all,

Just finished making these custom lanterns for my nephew and nieces in Florida. I used draftboard for the outside frame and light fixture support, glued the wood together, and spray painted it black. For the inside design, I used medium translucent white acrylic from TAP Plastics, which I spray painted black, let dry, and then etched. The structure of the lantern was an original design, made with help from

The first rev involved images that were cut, but it really limited the complexity of the design and the pieces were too flimsy. Etching proved a much better route and I loved the outcome.


Wow, simply amazing! I didn’t know you could get acrylic to look like that!


Ok. This is a 10 on my Made on a Glowforge rating scale. Means I’m going to make them for myself. I have yet to make a lantern box like this on the Glowforge. Been trying to figure out what to do. You nailed it!


When you said you painted the acrylic black that means you etch out the opposite part of the image? If so my God it’s so clean. Can you post a close up

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Isn’t lasering off paint dangerous? Like, its throwing sublimed paint particles into the air in microscopic sizes, which can be breathed in, yeah?

Those lamps are beautiful but the shop is disgusting. No shop should be that neat and clean

Never seen pegboard like that.


Thank you!

Yes, I etched out all the parts that are white. I wrapped these a moment ago, but maybe this zoomed in image helps?


:slight_smile: almost certainly bad for me. If I make more, I’ll be more cautious on material.

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Haha, yeah, it’s almost never like that. I live in a loft so my shop is also my living room is also my office, and when I wrapped this project I cleaned off a good section just to make sure the table was still there.


Shouldn’t be breathing it in - it should be exhausting to the outside.


If its Acrylic paint, its no more dangerous than the plastic itself. Before they closed our Techshop, we had a guy who did art pieces on sheets of steel with different layers of paint and then raster an image on them to expose different color layers depending on the image. They were fantastic looking.


I smell the wood every time I engrave or cut, and smell is particles hitting receptors in your nose. So you are definitely breathing it in, if you smell it…and so far EVERYONE I have read said they smell acrylic and leather (and they smell terrible, lol).

Isnt the plastic itself also toxic to engrave/cut? That’s what I have heard at least. But I am trying to learn so I know what steps and precautions I need to take to works with more materials than just wood, which is all I trust using right now. Especially since I smell the wood, so I think something might be up with my vent tube or the lid seal.

Understood. But it’s a matter of exposure.

Ever step in dog poo? Breathe while you go to the bathroom? Inhale around roadkill?

Water is fatal in high enough concentrations of exposure.

This is not radical new technology we’re dealing with here. Millions of exposure hours have been experienced and there are a total of zero recorded cases of serious illness (cancer, death) from exposure to laser engraving fumes.

Of course everyone has different sensitivities (I’m sensitive to perfumes and artificial scents - but not essential oils) so they have to decide if this is a job or hobby they can participate in. You will not achieve zero particulate emissions with a laser cutter. You can only minimize it. If 2ppm (generally achievable) is too much for you then this is not a tool you’ll be able to use.


If you are smelling it while it is cutting, you probably do not have your venting sealed properly. We used a quick connect that was not designed to be airtight - many of the dryer hose connection parts aren’t designed to be airtight, and account for a lot of the “smells while cutting” problems that people experience.

So we sealed around the Quick Connect with clear silicone caulk and now there is no smell while cutting or engraving. If you’re smelling it, try sealing the connections with either aluminum tape or caulk. (Keeping in mind that you can’t caulk the seal around the Glowforge end, because you have to remove the hose to clean the fans out once in a while.) For those a carefully tightened worm clamp works better than the clip they send with the unit. It is easy to crack the plastic on the case though so be CAREFUL not to over-tighten if you opt to use one. It’s probably better to just tape that part up.

But no, we don’t smell anything at all while cutting - only a little whiff when we open the lid afterwards. You’ll get more smell on the grimy residue that winds up on the masking - just remove that ASAP and pop it into a ziploc bag and the smell goes away immediately.

Check your seals at both ends if you are smelling smoke while it cuts - you might have a leak in the venting setup. Even if it’s nothing more than an annoyance, you can probably fix it pretty easily.


I put foil tape on the GF end and masking tape on the cardboard window frame end and reduced the odor by about 90%. I still have some holes around the window I could address

Does anyone have recommendations for a vent adaptor for sliding windows? Either shop bought or cut?

Ok thanks everyone. I didn’t realize I had venting issues on my end. I was using what was sent with the machine.

That said, I definitely don’t agree with James, there are plenty of cases of laser related exposure cases. Acrylic, glass and fumes come to mind immediately, and others can be problematic too. Can you point me to anything stating the reason behind that thought process, because I think the myriad of PPE and giant ventilation systems for sale imply there is more than a risk only of annoyance. But maybe I’m wrong, and honestly, I’d love to be, so I can rest more easily while also doing more cool projects with cooler material.

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I’ll check my glowforge side, that’s likely an issue. The window side I don’t have sealed up since I’m in an apartment and I’m venting out a window. The forge is 12 inches from the window, so I just put the hose out the window and it hangs down about 4 feet (and that’s the only bend, the one going from horizontal to vertical down). Since it lets it own downward and 4 feet below me, it shouldn’t come back up into the window under normal non storm cases, right? I just don’t know how I’d make a good permanent seal on the window without leaving the window open and having heating issues in the winter.