Lazy man's pattern

Ok, so I had one of those face palm moments earlier today…

I’m truly comfortable with the Illustrator/Inkscape to laser cutter workflow, so I’m not worried about using the GF plugins and drivers, but GF’s now-iconic draw-n-cut ability made me think of a hybrid approach…

As a long-time fan of Flite Test, I really like building and flying airplanes out of DTFB (Dollar Tree Foam Board), but i’m not a huge fan of converting PDFs to DXFs, reworking the color-coding, etc.

It occurred to me that one could simply print out any image — aircraft parts, clock gears, you name it — and temporarily attach it to the top of your preferred building material with a spray of 3M 505 (or a PVA glue stick), and use the draw-n-cut function to cut it out without doing through the usual conversion steps.

This certainly would not work in all instances, but might be a viable alternative when you just want to quickly prototype something.

Yet another technique I look forward to trying next year!


Ha! I thought this was so obvious as not to mention, apparently not. I can see myself going through a lot of large peel-and-stick address labels.

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Yep–the joy of this is that you can not only print out images to cut, you can hand-draw them. That’s where the magic is for this visual artist.

Maybe stay away from the PVA glue sticks… (that “v” stands for vinyl) … blue painters tape instead?

What’s wrong with PVA, specifically? PVC must be avoided due to the chlorine compounds, but I don’t understand how elmer’s glue could be a problem… Don’t see it listed on any laser no-no lists, either.

Probably nothing.
[falls into google hole, ends up reading data information sheets for way too many products while lunch gets cold]
Ok, so really probably nothing at all… I looked quite a bit more into it after posting the comment. My eye twitches when I see the word “vinyl” or the abbreviations containing “PV” these days. Seems like it is fine in terms of safety/burning/toxicology. My bad.

Peeling off a paper pattern that has been glued into place to expose your surface could pose a whole different set of issues…

Personally, I like tape for easy removal and cleanup when I do stencil work, as opposed to using sprays or other adhesives. to hold the stencil in place.


This excerpt sums up my answer and the cause for my confusion:
(my bold letters, not theirs)

“In summary, with the exception of paints, glues and certain films, “vinyl” as a product
description almost always means made of PVC. The term vinyl in ethylene vinyl acetate
(EVA), polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA), polyvinyl acetate (PVA), and polyvinyl butyral
(PVB), however, does not refer to PVC and does not raise the same concerns associated
with chlorinated molecules like PVC.”

Here is the article in full:


I was thinking more in terms of a dab of glue stick on the corners/edges, not coating the whole piece. If I needed more uniform adhesion, I’d probably try the 505 spray (being careful to apply just before cutting and removing promptly).

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Gotcha. I was imagining someone heavily smearing a glue stick on some wood and leaving 1/8" chunks of glue all over the place. Specifically my nephew :persevere:

I wonder if the air-assist will mess with this technique, wouldn’t want the design flapping away partway through a job. Might have to glue/tape all the way around the perimeter if that is an issue, or use the 505. There are also letter-size post-it notes to think about, as well as making tiny little paper-holding jigs for the honeycomb.

erg, too many ideas / no laser on my desk

Once the image has been taken and digitized, the paper on the material should no longer matter.

If it did… then you just include “tabs” where the cut will skip a small portion that is easily broken post-laser. Then the paper and material remain a solid chunk as far as gravity and blowing air are concerned, but everything is cut out (with a quick hammer application or two pending)

Since the bed is steel, you can use magnets to hold down paper. After watching the video from Tested, it looks like the image can be taken and moved around so sort of like its in the buffer. Copy the image from the paper, then remove it and put in your material…using the camera feature, place the image where you want on the material and cut/engrave.

I hope this is correct because thats what I was planning to do alot…


You don’t even have to glue it. You can just set the paper on top of the material wherever you want it, close the lid, do the trace operation, open the lid, remove paper, close the lid and run the print. We’ve done this several times where we didn’t want to ruin the original art. (I suppose you might want to fix it down or tape it if the paper isn’t flat on the surface, etc)


Excellent, thank you!
That trace function Rocks!

If you needed to secure a paper with something, do you think you could use that clay-like stuff that you can stick photos up with? I can’t remember the name of it. You just tear a little bit off and it will temporarily stick things together. Lightweight things. You can use it to avoid making holes in things or using tape.

I’ve even taken someone’s iphone with their logo onscreen, put it in the bed, traced the logo, removed the iphone (important step that), then cut/engraved the logo onto material. Works a charm.


But would that hold the paper close enough to the substrate ( or allow too much air gap).

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Curious - what would be the result if you forgot the “important step”…


I imagine we would have simply engraved the wrong side of the iphone.


worst case of screen burn ever!

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I remember the first time I etched on an ipod touch… I was so nervous that I’d screw up …that would be a costly mistake… :stuck_out_tongue:

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