Incorporating GF materials into a 3d print, literally

Greetings -

There is a technique I’ve wanted to try, or a variation of it, since seeing the YouTube video on Sophy Wong. She 3d prints a pattern of scales or octagons, etc., and half way through lays in a mesh, then continues to print, tying them together into a fabric of sorts.

Since I don’t have a clear vision on my next project yet, I want to try completely incorporating a GF piece inside a 3d print. Cool, what could go wrong…

As I was thinking about the web mesh of Sophy’s technique, might as well go with a spider theme. GF Add Artwork is an easy start. All I need for the test is a spider and a web. Check.

Next, design a ‘housing’ for the web and acrylic. I’m using Tinkercad (still) for ease of 3d photoshopping stuff together.

First try I had it sized too small for the web detail to stick.

I scaled them up so the ‘web part’, when exports to SVG and converted to STL for 3d printing, is thick enough to adhere to the printbed on it’s own. A little trial and error was necessary. This will do -

Need to cut a bigger acrylic spider / layer.

I checked the slicer and found that the ‘pocket’ I designed into the 3d Block would transition to cover the ‘back’ of the acrylic on layer 25.

So I set the print to change filament color on that layer.

Knowing the machine would need to switch the filament, giving me time to hit pause and insert the acrylic sheet.

In case you’re asking yourself, is this really a good idea? No, I don’t believe it is. :sunglasses:

I measured the acrylic and it was about 2.74mm, and I made the space for it 2.8mm thick. So not a lot of gap to work with.

Yes, there was some pucker factor on restarting the print, since I could feel the acrylic was basically flush to the last 3d print layer. But that’s what I’m here for, so let’s go for it.

The first layer was wavy gravy, but staying down. The second layer, over the back of the acrylic, was laying down perfect, so I think this is totally going to work.

Yup, it’s in there.

So what did I end up with? Success!

This isn’t all that interesting, by itself. It’s a technique I wanted to try as I have a large project still coalescing, and this is something I may want to incorporate at great length.

Thanks for checking it out.



Thanks for sharing this journey. I am hoping to see the larger project that uses these techniques once it has coalesced.


I just got an X1 Carbon for myself. Pretty amazing, right? Kinda like if Glowforge made a 3D printer…


The same with a black web and glow-in-the-dark background would make a great Halloween decoration!


Exactly. I have been enjoying the process of figuring out different ways to use the 3d and laser together on a project, especially when the technique is more ‘non-traditional’. :slight_smile:

Hmm, I like it - probably black light paint is the way I’d go. Sort of like ‘The Reactor’ project. I ran out of black filament on a Halloween thing. So as it’s just an experiment, mabey a more colorful version would be cute as well, since I still have CMYK loaded. A hot air balloon? I need more Lightburn exercise, so let’s see where that goes. -Edit - Mabey 3d blue sky background with white clouds on first layer behind Acrylic? I don’t know. I’ll try a few thing and see if something interesting happens. :slight_smile: Thx.


This is cool. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing more


That’s a really advanced technique! Impressive!


Yeah I like this pure science process exploration. Who knows how practical it is, it’s worth trying just to see what can be done.


Except for the fact that I still do not have a 3D printer, and more so the fact that I hate spiders, this is an awesome project and turned out really well! I love how you always show us all your steps for making your projects. I think this one is at the top for how well it turned out! Oh yes, do a hot air balloon!


Very nicely done!


Thanks so much. On to the ballon, or dirigible actually, cause I like the word. :wink:

Back to the GF window, for the graphics and basic layout.

I engraved and cut the initial one with a rectangle outer frame and went with Black Light Acrylic paint -

But as I was making the ‘frame’ it just looked so, rectangle…

So I decided to go with an oval instead.

I’m going to like this much more I think.

Back to paint. And I’m doing the ‘back’ engraved area, which I ran on two passes at HD graphic. So it’s nice and deep into the Acrylic, giving a nice opacity and non-blotchy look to the paint. (Which looks super crappy when it’s too thin on acrylic.

Let it dry while I’m working on the new oval frame in 3d.

Oh this could be really cute. And I made the overall thickness a little less as well, now a total of 7mm or about 1/4 inch. Find the transition layer like the spider one, and start the print.

Due to the clouds and sun, the acrylic was just proud of the last layer. Which is clearly a danger zone. I absolutely should have redone it with a bigger gap, but this is just a test, and hopefully I won’t break anything. So let’s go with it.

The extrusion head was clearly touching the acrylic on that first layer, sort of smearing the plastic around the print path instead of laying down a nice bead. But it didn’t appear to be hurting anything so I just let it go. And the result -

What a lovely little thing this is. The first layer on top of the acrylic is pretty rough, from the smearing, as noted above. But the effect of the acrylic is really special, and hard to show with a picture.

And I could see making the outer frame ring half the width, mabey. And ‘ironing’ the surface would make it super smooth. But for what it is, I’m very pleased. Oh ya, and how does it look in black light - Bam -

The yellow (sun) filament fluoresced a little. The white clouds none at all. But man do the colors pop even being on the underside of the acrylic. I will absolutely employ this technique in the future.




Love it!!


Love it! And I like your little florescent tiny crate too!


This is all very cool, and an interesting proof of concept. Now that you’ve had a minute to sit with it and think about the process maybe you can answer a couple of questions.

How long did the prints take? The overall process minus the painting?

How strong does it feel? Do the layers feel solid?

I understand that this is a simple example with simple shapes, do you think this offers a significant advantages over a more traditional inlaid and layered approach? Again, this is a simple set of shapes but it’s not hard to imagine how each of these forms could be laser cut (presumably in a fraction of the time). Are there advantages to using other kinds of filaments over using acrylic as the framing in this specific project?

I can see how this could make some pretty cool 3d-effect frames that would be difficult to do on the laser, intriguing stuff.


Awesome. First time I’ve seen this technique. I’ll have to try it!


Greetings evansd2 -

Thanks so much, and I have been thinking about it. (long answer)

  1. The Blimp oval cutout is 90mm x 120mm - or about 4" x 5". The engrave (2 passes at HD) took a little over an hour on my GF Plus. The 3d Print is 100mm x 130mm with the time to print shown on the slice -

Screenshot 2023-08-30 at 6.31.04 AM

So that took 1 hour and 11 minutes to print and cost about $.93 in filament. That’s on ‘standard’ 3d print speed. There’s a ‘Sport’ and ‘Ludicrous’ mode to print even faster, but I’m new to this so I haven’t messed with those yet.

  1. Does it feel strong / solid? I’ve done numerous prints now where I’ve switched filament colors by layer. The layers always line up and hold together well. The piece isn’t under tension or being flexed, but ya, it’s pretty solid. I printed with a standard 15% infill. Which you can see holding up to a light -

Remember, that bottom ‘layer’ is only 5mm thick total, less a 2.8mm indent to hold the Acrylic. Considering the ‘top and bottom’ are solid printed at .4mm each (2 layers of .2mm), that cross hatching inside is actually only 1.8mm thick!

You could print the whole thing at 100% infill and the piece would be (literally) solid. Add ironing to the surface layers to smooth it out nice and here are the slice results -

It would take 2h9m to print and cost about $1.29 in filament.

  1. The filament I’m using is standard PLA. Based on the cost, if you switched to a more ‘robust’ or weatherable material such as PETG or PAHT, that would increase the filament $ about 50-70%. So still not terribly expensive given its size. There’s also ‘silky’ filaments with a super smooth & shiny look that is also within that 50% cost increase range, and it would look really nice.

  2. I would also point out, with the standard 15% infill and no ironing, if you printed 4, there’s less waste for filament changes, and the time to print (each) goes down. Reducing the cost to $.85ea, and the time to 3h32m for 4 on standard speed.

  1. Yes, I could have done this project layered / inset with various acrylics, doing everything on the GF, and just epoxy it together. I’ve done plenty of those. :slight_smile: But one thing I’ve noticed when doing that is various colors of acrylic are always varying thicknesses. So by the time you sandwich 4 or 5 different colors in various layers, you (I) always end up with layer gaps. Which granted could also be from my own inexperience / impatience. :wink: Whereas this has a super tight, completely enclosed feel to it. Plus, those tiny little sun rays, cut in acrylic, good luck finding them after cutting in the GF.

“I can see how this could make some pretty cool 3d-effect frames that would be difficult to do on the laser, intriguing stuff.”

  1. Agreed, and there are certainly advantages / disadvantages to each method of creating something - Laser vs. 3d print. I just find it an interesting challenge to use both, in an effort to make something which has a greater satisfaction than the sum of its parts, so to speak, and / or create something unique which can only be achieved using both.

  2. Bottom Line - One interesting thing with the 3d printer is that you can easily work at a .2mm layer height scale. So I’m looking forward to my Michaels putting out their eco-thin (Aura) acrylics. I really want to try cutting multi layers (of 1.6mm material) on the GF and sandwich them inside a .4mm shell. This REALLY reduces the overall thickness a piece can be, while still retaining multiple layers. I just wish I was a better artist. :slight_smile:

  3. Going beyond - Along the same lines at 7 - I’m also experimenting with 3d printing thin material and cutting in the GF, just as you would construction paper. This example is .2mm yellow (7.5mils), .4mm magenta, .6mm Blue and .8mm white.

Which would allow me to sandwich with construction paper, foil, etc… Adding another source material to my creative options. All the research I’ve done suggests PLA is pretty benign to laser cut, although I don’t intend to do much of it, at all, atleast with the GF. I’m guessing an AURA is in my future, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use that with this thin PLA.




Awesome writeup, thanks.

So the clouds and sun were 3d printed?

As for #1, seems like these things could be done in parallel so really no overall time lost there. You run the 3d print while the gf is engraving and you’re all set, yeah?


Yup, sun and clouds were 3d printed - a benefit of having the AMS (automatic filament switcher) on the 3d printer.

I couldn’t really engrave and 3d print the pieces at the ‘same’ time because the acrylic had to be cut and painted before the 3d print reached the layer I had to insert it. I’m slow at painting, and 3d modeling…

So I basically, did the GF design, and started the acrylic on engrave. During the hour the GF took, I designed the 3d piece. So just about the time the engrave was done, I was able to start the 3d print, take out the acrylic, get it painted and masking removed in time to insert into the print. So not much downtime in the workflow overall.

The other nice thing about this technique, once the acrylic is inserted and the 3d print resumes, it’s basically done from a labor standpoint. No gluing, sanding, or further assembly required. Mabey a few wispy 3d print strings to wipe off or nip with an exacto. But that’s it.

On a side note. I just went to Michaels and they finally have the Aura and new eco-thin materials out. They even had an Aura on the floor for sale, which was nice to see. I successfully avoided buying it, for now. :slight_smile: I picked up a sheet each of eco-thin black and orange, so should be fun to try it out. I’ve scheduled a camp trip for the long weekend, so probably won’t get to do much more for a while.

Till then…


Thx! The milk crate was from the @odzicari post from March '22 - 1.5" Milk Crate

Every GF person should make a milk crate, the plan is in the thread. :slight_smile:

That plan should be adjusted for the new eco-thin materials and reposted, especially given the new Aura users. I might even give it shot as Lightburn practice. I’d make more with this Eco-Thin plastic just to have a few more. They are super handy, my kid uses theirs for jewelry findings to this day.


It’s contagious!

(Background: friend of mine has chickens in her back yard.)

I ran across this sign on Thingiverse, designed as a 3D print. I brought those .stl layers into TinkerCad and I was able to turn around and spit them back out as .svg files (of course, when I went to make it, I found that I didn’t have enough red or yellow acrylic left…)

The result is stacked. A laser-cut wood background, 3D printed yellow and red layers, then back to acrylic for the black and back to 3D printing for the white: