Need Help Making Stencils

Hi Glowforge Community,
I am a new Glowforge owner, and I was about to cut vinyl paper to make a stencil for a shirt design, and when I couldn’t find the right material to start the cut, I searched in the forum and saw that vinyl paper off-gas chlorine… Wow, really dodged a bullet! Now I am at a loss, because this is what I wanted to use this machine for. Has anyone else encountered this same dilemma?

Use mylar. Lots of existing discussion on stencils here if you use the search feature.


What “vinyl paper” is it? Some things call themselves vinyl but aren’t PVC, which is the material you need to dodge. In no way am I saying this is safe yet, but if you mention specifically which product it is we might be able to find out for sure.


If cutting vinyl for shirt stencils or silk screening is the only goal a Glowforge is not the best tool for the job. Vinyl cutting machines that use knives instead of lasers can be found at 1/10 the price and don’t have the chemical issues of burning vinyl.

The laser is much better for cutting thicker material very accurately and can engrave for a 3D result that the vinyl cutters cannot, but if that is not what you want to do then you have a hammer to apply screws.

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Lots of variables: design size, design complexity, repeatability, # of colors, ink application method, etc etc.

  • For a simple single use design freezer paper would be fine for spray or gentle squeegee.
  • Mylar/Duralar is great for a short run using a squeegee.
  • HTV (heat transfer vinyl, no actual pvc in it) can be ironed onto a traditional screen printing screen and run several hundred impressions if you know what your doing.
  • HTV can also just be your tshirt design, avoiding the stencil altogether.

Perfect! I will search for for mylar. Thank you for the suggestion!

Amazing suggestions! From the sound of it either Mylar/Duralar or HTV could work for what I am looking to do. Thanks for your help!


I could also see myself using Lucent as well. I could use this for more durable stencils. Thanks for the suggestion!

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I made large icon and letter stencils to label some chemical tanks using thin (about 2 mm) styrene sheet. It cuts clean and have stood up to a lot of labeling.

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Would you be willing to share settings for this material?

I have not made intricate designs from this material so I haven’t done extensive testing. I have had good luck cutting (pro) full power 500 speed.

@kea, For a 2 mm styrene sheet I used 200 speed/95 power/1 pass to cut.

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