I’m working on an artist collaboration that could hugely benefit from being able to cut/etch “Brushed Aluminum on Black Laserable Acrylic Sheet” from Inventables. I purchased this material in 1/16" (thickest available) but I’m petrified to cut/etch it for some reason (probably because “Aluminum” is in the title and I know the Glowforge cannot cut metal). Can anyone confirm that they have etched/cut this material successfully? And would I use my regular 1/16" settings (200 speed, full power) for cutting?
Thank you so much in advance! I had a bit of a scare recently (tried to cut a much larger acrylic sheet in the GF that was just barely touching the gears… ooof) so I dread any complications!
There is nothing unusual about this acrylic product. The “aluminum” is a colored coating, nothing metal about it. The tricky part would be to engrave away the aluminum color to reveal the black, not with cutting the product.
I have the silver on black of this product. If you don’t have any extra for testing, I would be happy to perform some test engraves/cuts for you. I am pretty sure the results will be comparable to the aluminum/black.
That would be super helpful, thank you! The engraving settings for both are the exact same recommendations, but I’m a little confused by the DPI and hz recommendations because GF only shows LPI (lines per inch). I usually cut my regular 1/16" plexi with 200 speed and full power so if you can test that that would be great (I’m guessing that the aluminum is slightly harder to cut through anyway so it would be on the low end in terms of power). If you can manage to etch it without any tackiness I would love to see that – so much of the 2-color sheets I bought from them are super tacky after engraving, and doesn’t pick up detail well, but I might opt for your silver color if that works well
Ok thanks so much. I have an irrational fear that laser on “metal” will cause some type of electric shock which is why I can’t bring myself to test on the material as easily as any other material I’ve ever bought
Thanks for your link! I think my fear is so irrational that I wasn’t even willing to attempt a test But it looks like this is standard practice, and the cuts in your svg file are small enough to probably not set off any complication. Even vector cutting proofgrade wood makes me nervous when I see a lot of smoke
Okay so I confronted my crippling anxiety and used their recommended settings (with 100 speed instead of 90, even) and the engrave totally burned through. The 100 cut needed some pushing and wasn’t clean, so I’m assuming full power is best there
The engraving speed you used is way too slow. I’m doing 1000/50 with 225 using the set focus tool. I removed the clear plastic before engraving. The result is hard to photograph, but the silver is certainly removed leaving the black exposed.
The silver coating is very thin as you can see when you remove a cut piece and look at it from the edge. The engraving power will be low, and if you need a smoother look you can defocus and do a second engraving at even lower speed to remove any colored artifact. In the example above I only ran one pass and gave it a quick spritz of Novus cleaning solution.
I cut this same small circle at 200 speed 100 power. The cut was clean and no flashback.
Wow thank you!! Your result is amazing. So you are leaving it unmasked? (I already removed the plastic, but I’ve coated it with blue painter’s tape). I’ve never used the set focus tool so I’m not sure about how to implement that? I really appreciate your help, you’re a life saver
I don’t mask acrylic that I am engraving because the masking melts into the acrylic. Are you engraving large areas or small, detailed things?
As for the set focus tool, it is under the gear icon. Simply select it, then click somewhere on your material. Make sure the red beam falls on the material and not on a void. After the camera focuses, place your artwork.
Looks good! I’ll have to thicken the lines on the snake body a bit and then it’ll be ready to back against a galaxy plexi and become a pendant. Not sure if LPI change will give it more accurate and smooth detail? Also was a bit tricky pushing it out so I’ll have to try 2 vector passes
The laser is a light beam; there is no electrical connection between anything in the Glowforge and the material you are cutting. You can mark metals in the Glowforge safely by using a laser marking compound, it just doesn’t have enough power to cut them, though with a very few materials it will remove or mark a tiny amount of material even if you are not using a marking compound.
Anything sold by Inventables for laser cutting is safe to use on the Glowforge. That includes all their metallic line.
There is absolutely no danger of an electrical discharge from putting metal in the laser. A laser and your microwave oven operate on completely different principles.
Looks good! You can tweak the settings now that you have a baseline that is close to what you want. Rather than run two cut passes, you may consider slowing the speed down just a tad - like 190 rather than 200.
You can do that by making them a defocused Score operation. If the material is .125" (1/8), then set the focus for the score operation to something like .375 or even .5" and the laser will be focused above the material which means the beam that hits the material will be spread out a bit. Easier to do that then expanding the strokes in your design program and adding a fill and then doing the engrave operation.