My glow forge is sitting unboxed yet untouched. So intimidated! I did find a pile of ??? Acrylic? Plexiglass? at work and I’d love to know if it’s safe to work with. How is a person to tell?!? It has a blue protective “mask”. Any advice is welcome… I mean I’m desperate for it.
I believe that’s extruded. Cast has a paper mask. Cast is better for engraving and doesn’t smell as much. Search the forum for cast vs and you’ll find some previous discussions.
Don’t be intimidated, you got this! Plenty of folks to help you with things and these links will get you started. It’s really(really!) (really!) worth the time to follow the tutorials to get a feel for your incredible new toy.
START HERE WITH THE FIRST PRINTS
TONS OF GOOD INFO HERE TOO
THIS IS MY FAVORITE it explains what all the settings do
So any acrylic is OK for the laser and it goes by several names including plexiglass, lucite, cell cast and arcylite. The best news is acrylic all has the same basic structure/chemicals and lasers about the same. So if you find acrylic the same thickness as the proofgrade (PG) acrylic, you can just use the PG settings for it. There are two types of acrylic; cast and extruded. Both work just fine in the laser, but cast will engrave better becasue it engraves white and provides more contrast. Extruded engraves more clear and stinks a lot more when cut. Generally speaking, cast acrylic has paper making that you can leave on it you want (but you can take it off too) and extruded typically has plastic masking that you want to remove. (The plastic will melt and can mar the acrylic.) Now go make something!
You have come to the right place. Read the things recommended above - and get started. If anything goes wrong during a project, lift the lid and the laser stops. You will gain confidence and get better. Did you receive Proofgrade materials with your Glowforge? Maybe start with that if you did. At any rate, you will get help here so screw up your courage and soon you will be a forger.
Normally it is shipped with samples of woods and acrylic in a second box.
Don’t be intimidated, it is very easy to start to use, every thing is well detailed in the manual.
Cross the fingers and hope it will work at your first try
Plexiglass/acrylic are totally fine just strip off the plastic masking and replace with paper masking (search the forum for lots of great links) and you’ll be good to go.
Check the edges. If it’s cloudy then it may be Lexan (polycarbonate) which you don’t want to laser (melts in a slaggy mess & is prone to burning). It’s usually sold as “high strength” or “impact resistant”.
Acrylic has clear edges. You’ll get better engrave contrast from cast acrylic (usually paper masked) than from extruded (plastic film masked). Extruded is also more brittle and will create sharp edges & pointy parts when broken.
Thank you all so much for the advice! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Get to lasering! Post here if you have any questions.
Did you get a box of Proofgrade material?
It really is not too complicated if you follow the first three prints instructions.
It’s absolutely safe and so fun! Good luck!
in the words of Starsky (or was it Hutch?) “do it!”