Etchings, Engravings, and Relief Prints?

Anyone out there a printmaker? I am and one of my primary decisions for purchasing a Glowforge is to create plates that I can print on my etching press that use no chemicals. Additionally, the plates will have more detail than some photographic processes and I can create complex plates rather easily. Now I just have to wait for the air filter. Unfortunately, it is not possible to vent to the outside in my studio. Thanks, all!

I mean this as no disrespect, but wouldn’t a CNC machine work better? I don’t know anything about print making. I’m guessing that the plates are aluminum or such and don’t need a whole lot of depth.

I would have guessed something like a ShapeOko or VCarve would work better. Am I wrong? Mostly curious as it would be pretty cool to try something like what you’re going to do.

Too bad. It would be very difficult for me to ignore. Looking at my glowforge sitting there, I would be tempted to put it the bathroom and hang the exhaust hose to the vent with a coat hanger!

what are your plates made out of?

A CNC machine can work if I had access to one. Plates can be made from zinc, copper, or other materials. Those can be carved by hand but are time consuming. Way back when, when printmaking became an art form, plates were made of wood. I thought I could combine tech and old school at the same time.

I will use the Glowforge for other things besides printmaking.

Thanks for sharing the ShapeOko idea. I did not know about it.

Wood if I use a Glowforge. If I go traditional, then zinc with chemicals. I could try aluminum, too. The etch does not have to be deep. It either has to hold ink to press or roll ink on top of the plate.

Cool, thanks for the follow up!

FYI on the ShapeOko, they’re now Carbide.

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i’ll be interested to see what you do with the glowforge. i’ve got a number of hand colored wood etch prints from an artist at the torpedo factory in virginia and i really enjoy that kind of work.

Delrin? did I spell that right? that might work.

If tile would work you could blow it out a vacuum cleaner bag as there would be no smoke or smell. just tiny shards of tile.

Alternatively there is this. Third Party Air Filter
I bought one and though I have had issues getting from 4" out of the Glowforge to 12" into the monster it gobbles everything very well


@glenn does amazing printmaking stuff with his Glowforge!

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I hate to actually you, but printmaking and letterpress printing are distinct — but they share some interesting properties. You can print from metal and other plates that have been etched, but the ink coverage and press process are pretty different. In printmaking, as I understand it, there’s much more focus on contact and pressure across the whole print; with letterpress, you’re almost trying to minimize the contact — the least amount of necessary points of connection. Letterpress also uses fast drying ink so that a work is effectively dry almost the moment ink touches paper (in a very thin film).


I made some wood block prints after looking at a proofing press and deciding I couldn’t really justify the cost ATM. Instead, I used a stamp pad for ink, leather and paper-towel layers for padding, and a rubber mallet for pressure. If you have an actual press of some kind, I think there is serious potential.


I do have a small etching press and am so excited to see what I can make. Your stamps are very nice.


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