Cutting proofgrade acrylic without the protection film

I find that on some of my engraved projects on medium clear acrylic, removing the protective film from the acrylic after the engrave can be very tedious, having to get in all the small areas with a razor blade, etc and it really takes a long time to make the acrylic free of any of the paper.

My question is, could I remove this before doing my engrave and cut? What would happen? The paper doesn’t seem to have any scorching on it or anything so can I just make this easier on myself and remove it from the topside prior to running the laser?

Thanks in advance!

It’s fine to remove the masking from the topside before engraving.
Depending on how much engraving you do, you may find deposits building up that must be cleaned afterwards. The masking is also great for avoiding fingerprints and stray drops of glue/solvent etc, just something to keep in mind.
I always remove the masking for complex engraves. For simple shapes, I’ll take the extra time for post-engrave masking-removal in exchange for protection from handling/assembly.

also, if you get acrylic from other sources you may find that it comes with a plastic film instead of the paper film that GF uses. I would recommend always removing the plastic masking. Its melty and gross.


Thanks jbv. Will removing the film before cutting/engraving have any affect on the quality or look of the work? I’m not too worried about fingerprints if that’s the only worry, and my pieces wont be glued.


When I took off the paper before a complex engrave I found that fine acrylic dust blew onto the clear parts and melted back on in the heat. I painstakingly peel the paper off now after engraving. I would try it on a small piece first and see what happens.


Thank you, I will give it a try on a test piece. Problem is, I’m making about 150 of the same project, so if I can save time taking the paper off first that will be a huge win, but I obviously can’t do this at the risk of the quality of the product. I’ll give it a shot on one and see how it goes.

Would be nice if you got it to work. I found acrylic harder to peel than wood.

Others on the forum have recommended plastic razor blades in the past. I ordered some and they help a lot for mask on detailed acrylic engraves. [I bought these on Amazon]


+1 for the plastic razor blades.


I almost always take the paper off of the top of acrylic that I engrave because the paper will cause you to a loose lose a little of the detail. The masking on the bottom will reduce the effects of flash back on the back. On the engraved side, you will see some white residue that is caused by the air assist blowing the smoke away. This can be easily removed with a fingernail brush and soap under running water. :grinning:


Me, too :+1:


me three! Those blades are awesome for removing making.

FWIW, There is no danger to removing the masking and I generally remove the top side if I wont be using it as a paint mask. If bottom side that rests on the tray will be visible in my final project, I leave it to prevent any flashback marks. This is just a general rule as cutting with slower speed/too much power can leave a little haze around the cuts so it really just takes some experimenting and practice.

Oh yeah @ChadG , there’s no danger from removing the masking on wood either. The staining from the smoke and residue can make for a nice effect. :slight_smile:


duct tape is your friend - i cut a lot of acrylic with intricate designs and i use gorilla tape to grab and pull off the paper bits - works great


So I have a question, I chose to engrave my white acrylic with dawn dish soap as my protective layer. But I will need to paint the engraves. Once the paint dries in the engrave will I be ok to wipe the surface paint off? Or is this going to totally ruin my project?

I think letting the paint dry before trying to wipe it off is going to be pretty tough, and the acrylic may get scratched in the process. (I’m assuming the soap doesn’t prevent it from adhering it to the surface, I could be wrong though.) But there’s really only one way to find out and that’s to do a test piece. FWIW, using masking and painting over it is super-duper easy to remove and gives great results.

I am in a similar predicament. Cutting a lot of small pieces, and it is troublesome to remove the backing post-cutting. Removing the masking on the top will help, but it still leaves masking on the bottom side to deal with. I’ve tried leaving them soaked in water for a day or two, and it helps greatly with the removal. Rubbing it on a microfiber cloth (such as this - aids in removal, but is still a chore.

The main issue with removing backside masking is flashback from the tray. I wonder if anyone has tried using a sheet of paper on the bottom tray (after removing backing on top and bottom of the acrylic) to prevent the flashback?