Laser engrave everything

I’m working on a YouTube video where I laser-engrave/etch EVERYTHING on my Glowforge. It’s been really fun! The list keeps growing as I work with new materials and learning from this community. Is there anything that you’d like to see included in the video? Any general suggestions? Anything unique? I’ll also cover what should NOT be engraved. It’ll be geared towards hobbyists, educators, and makerspaces. Each sample is being engraved onto a 3" x 3" square for consistency (I’ll show ways to cut materials that can’t be cut using the Glowforge). I’d also like to showcase a few amazing examples shared on the forum. The video should be released in about two weeks: https://www.youtube.com/user/kuiphoff

Also, I’m also thinking of avoiding food (even though it’s fun!) - just because I throw a lot of non-food items in my Glowforge.

Here’s my list so far:

WOOD / PAPER

  1. Proofgrade Maple, Walnut, Cherry
  2. Baltic birch plywood
  3. White oak, pine, alder, cedar, etc
  4. Cork
  5. Bamboo
  6. MDF
  7. Cardboard
  8. Paper
  9. Double-Sided Cardstock (thanks @evansd2)

PLASTIC

  1. Proofgrade solid, clear acrylic
  2. Double-sided acrylic
  3. Delrin
  4. Mylar
  5. Corian

METALS

  1. Anodized Aluminum
  2. Stainless steel (Cermark coated)
  3. Titanium (Cermark coated)
  4. Chrome (Cermark coated)
  5. Brass (Cermark coated)
  6. Copper (Cermark coated)
  7. Painted Aluminum

MASONRY

  1. Marble (black and white)
  2. Tile
  3. Slate
  4. Brick

TEXTILES

  1. Fabric
  2. Denim
  3. Felt

OTHER

  1. Glass
  2. Leather
  3. Laserable rubber
  4. PLA
  5. Bone

Thanks for any feedback and I’ll let you know when the video is posted!

  • John

https://www.instagram.com/johnkuiphoff/
https://www.youtube.com/user/kuiphoff

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Semi precious stones have worked really well, tiger’s eye, jet, etc.

Jules did a grain of rice, though that’s food technically.

Leaves have had some success too.

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It would be interesting to see how cured polymer clay would engrave. Also I believe velvet makes a nice engrave. Dice are fun too ;p

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You may want to make a differentiation between engraving and surface marking. Engraving being where material is actually removed from the surface and surface marking where a mark is left on the surface. Cermark is a surface mark that can be removed. An actual engrave cannot be removed without removing the surrounding material. Anodized aluminum is neither - the dye is ablated from the aluminum oxide surface layer, leaving behind the silver aluminum color. Obviously this doesn’t work for clear anodized aluminum.

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You should try the plaster of paris with 70% isopropyl alcohol for marking metal.

And please research polymer clay before cutting, it appears to have PVC resin in it.

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Thanks for pointing that out, I would have never thought that!
From Wikipedia “Polymer clay is a type of hardenable modeling clay based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC)”.

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As a new GF Pro owner … literally dying with anticipation!!! I’ve watched every video out there & this sounds like it’s going to be great. Best of luck & keep us posted!

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(I looked it up awhile ago because I had thought of cutting polymer clay/silver clay on one of my digital cutters but never got around to it.)

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Children’s play foam sheets - great for a lot of things including cheap signs and bokeh filters :smiley:

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Two items I’m not seeing on your list: EVA foam (a lot of cosplay creators use it) and art stamp laser polymer for rubber stamp making (this is different from the laserable rubber as it’s transparent).

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I have not been able to go there myself yet but very anxious to do so,

I don’t think I have seen anyone mention cork fabric.

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Semi-precious Stones would need to be treated with the same care as you would plastics checking for ingredients. Sulfates or Chlorides would be a big No-No along with Mercury, Lead, Copper etc, Even beach rocks need to be soaked in fresh water lest salt chlorides become an issue. Some jet is just anthracite but some is just old 78 records and that could be a problem either way

Agates, in general, are good though shattering is always possible, Turquoise, Lapis, Azurite, and Malachite I would put on the “Do-not-use” list. Sandstones and slate are normally good as are igneous rocks especially Obsidian as they have all been heat tested :wink:

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Thanks @ rbtdanforth! I put agates on my list. I’ll order some tonight. I’d be interested in trying Obsidian as well. Also, thanks for the warning - you know, I was almost considering including a short segment on the “The Beilstein Test” to show how you can test for Chlorides… I haven’t decided if I want to include it yet as a non-green flame doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe to use.

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I did have cork on my list, however, this cork fabric looks interesting. Thanks for sharing! I’ll look more into it.

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How cool is that?! A few of the students who hang around the makerspace at my college are really into cosplay. I’ve never worked with EVA foam in a laser cutter before. I’ll order some tonight. Thanks so much!

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Thanks so much! I’ve been wanting to make this video for a while now and finally have enough hours into the machine that I feel I can make a well-informed video. I really do love my Glowforge. I use it nearly everyday for creative and commercial work. Also, if you do any freelance work, you can easily make the money back that you spent on the Glowforge in a very short amount of time. It’s like having you’re own personal ATM machine at your house. Between my Glowforge and my Shopbot Desktop Max, I’m able to make almost anything. Congrats on the new Glowforge - you’re about to make a lot of new friends. ha!

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There have been multiple discussions of cork fabric. Here is one: Cork Fabric Wallet

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Thanks! I just read up on using plaster of paris with isopropyl alcohol for etching metal - it looks promising. I’m definitely going to give that a try. I’ve had a lot of luck with Cermark but it’s super expensive for an aerosol can.

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Absolutely! I’ll definitely do that. It’s an important distinction.

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