Paper versus plastic (masking)

I’ve been cutting and scoring acrylic sheets from Inventables that arrived with a plastic protective tape applied, as opposed to a paper cover like Proofgrade acrylic.

I tried leaving the plastic sheet on during cutting and scoring, and replaced it with TransferRite paper tape for some other samples to see if it makes a difference.

It does make a difference!

Here’s a magnified view of a scoring operation using standard Proofgrade settings and TransferRite paper masking:

Here’s the sample with the plastic masking material from Inventables:

The difference is apparent even without magnification. The plastic masked material looks cleaner, glossier and smoother. This stuff is my new best friend - unless it turns out the material isn’t laser-friendly (toxic, corrosive gases, etc.)

I’m eager to hear any recomendations for plastic protective films…


I use TransferRite Ultra plastic transfer tape/masking. Bought the 12 inch roll about 7 months ago and still got plenty to go. As long as you make sure you really squeegy it down good, I have no complaints. If you leave any bubbles, though, it traps the smoke and soot and really creates a problem spot to clean.

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Thanks for the tip! Did you get the medium tack 1310, or the high tack 1320?

The paper I used in the above photo was TransferRite 592U high tack - which isn’t all that tacky on finished wood surfaces.

I got the medium tack 1310. I sometimes wish I had got the high tack, then change my mind when I’m weeding, lol. Seriously, I think the High tack would give you better results, just may be a little tougher weeding.

Have you tried an engrave?

I don’t have a lot of experience with it, but the time I tried to use the factory provided plastic masking on engraved plastic, it made a mess. If there is better stuff, that would be good to know.

I think High/Medium/Low tack means something different in the transfer tape industry than what I’m used to. The “High” tack TransferRite Ultra 592U paper tape I use is less sticky than 3M blue painter’s tape, which BTW can be useful for weeding the leftover masking. So it sounds like the 1320 high tack tape may be a better all-around choice.

Agreed. I use the blue painter’s tape on some smaller projects, but Gorilla Tape has become my go to tool…

I’ve tried leaving the factory plastic on for engraving acrylic - once. Agreed, it’s a non-starter. I’ve been using TransferRite 592U paper masking instead, and I get much better results with that.

I haven’t tested any yet, but I’m wondering if water-soluble tape might be useful…

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