Perforating Origami Paper for Folding - Test Run

This is a continuation of a discussion on another thread on how to get the Glowforge to create fold lines for really thin papers like origami papers.

(Since a couple of non-regularly-posting forum members have asked me about the potential as well, I’m going to post the test here so they’ll see it too, I think they read the highlights.) :smile:

Okay, some of us were thinking that it would be impossible to just crease something as thin as origami paper with the laser, and that it would burn all the way through something that thin. (That did turn out to be the case.)

But in the thread referenced above, someone else suggested creating little micro-perforations by using a very low LPI unfocused engrave, and that did work…with some limitations that I need to mention, and I’ll talk about those afterwards.

Loaded a sheet of standard origami paper with a couple of diagonal lines drawn on the back in pencil. I kept it from blowing around by taping it down. (Worked just fine.)

I then used the Trace function in the Glowforge interface to capture part of those lines for engraving, and did a manual override on the settings to lower the power, increase the speed, adjust the focal point and lower the line density to 35 LPI. (Could have taken it down to 10 LPI - there is one lower setting.)

This is the result - not bad, considering.

And if you flip it over and look at the other side on a light table, you’ll see that there is burn through on the perfs.

Okay, so it can create little dashes, which do make the paper easier to fold, but there are some limitations you need to know about.

First is that the only thing you can do with a raster image (which those hand drawn lines are) is Engrave what the trace picks up. It will color the lines going side-to-side at a certain number of lines per inch. (Why they turned out as tiny dashes instead of dots…the dashes are as wide as the pencil stroke+kerf.)

You cannot convert that kind of image into a Score, which is a vector treatment.

Second - if you try to use a couple of vector lines with a score, it will cut all the way through. (You can’t specify a number of lines per inch on a Score.)

Third, if you try to do an Engrave on a vector line, you might get unexpected results - the interface wasn’t designed to engrave on open vector paths, it will try to fill them in.

So those are the limitations, and the results above are the one option I believe we have. If you fold the paper too many times it will tear, but you can do a light score on it if it’s not too difficult a fold. (Or maybe just do 10 LPI…that will make it a little stronger.)

Note: Outdated after the new Precision Power settings were implemented. You can now score/engrave easily with the lower power ranges.


What happens if you create a dashed or dotted vector path and cut that? I doubt it would work as intended yet but probably not because of a hardware limitation

A series of single kerf diameter holes along the cut line with configurable spacing would presumably give a much nicer result and fold


Nice job! Thanks for doing the research. I can imagine that there would still be uses for this kind of thing even if it’s not technically creasing.


Yes, you could do that, and you would get more control over the spacing.

But that also has a trick to it. Dashed lines in the main drawing programs like Illustrator and Inkscape are not actually dashed lines. They only appear to be dashed.

In order to create true dashes, you basically have to create individual lines for each dash. (There are a couple of shortcuts to take, and there have been a couple of small tutorials written up on how to do it in the main programs.)


Indeed, which is why I doubt the GFUI would behave as intended if you tried to use a dashed or dotted line today - but there is no reason why it couldn’t interpret vector lines with a dashed style applied to them as a series of holes or dashes along a line. Hopefully we will be able to change the cut pattern in the future

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Maybe so…Might be a good hipper idea. (we’re not using “o” these days…overuse fatigue) :wink:


Not sure I understand this. Are you saying all vector scores have to be closed loops?

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nice, thanks for doing that test!

So the replacement scoring head would be the best :grin:

No, Vector cuts and scores are fine and work with open paths correctly.

She was talking about if you try to Engrave vector paths from an svg instead of Score them, the S/W could get confused. Engraves are designed to work with image files. The engrave might fill in an open ended vector curve where no fill was planned. It’s not a S/W error. Just us trying to do something special. If the engrave is a jpg, png or gif then it works as intended.


I’m confused. If I make a vector line in illustrator and then expand it, it becomes a series of vector paths, each enclosing a tiny ‘line’

Why would that break this technique? Is it a Kerf Thing?

(If I had a gf already I could just pop some cardboard in and answer my own question, but for now I’ll just lurk and watch the people who do have 'em…)


I’ll definitely be playing around with light score lines for origami folds with my glowforge! I love big, macro-scale geometric patterns- so mesmerizing. This is where the two-sided alignment feature has the potential to shine brilliantly; trying to get opposite fold lines to line up perfectly on a universal laser back at school was literally impossible.

I hear ya!! Every time I see someone describing a technique or talking about the GFUI, I think to myself how much easier to will be to really understand what they’re talking about when I can see it for myself.


That’s what we do. (Not everyone knows what expanding a stroke is in Illustrator.)


Remember the whole discussion/tutorial about dashed and dotted lines?

This is why!
I was limited in the materials I could play with, but when we have a release machine my wife will definitely be experimenting with this since she makes lots of folded paper construction.


Yep, those are the tutorials…I didn’t have time to go looking for it last night. (Thanks for finding the link again.) :relaxed:

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Note that we haven’t enabled the lowest possible power operation yet in prerelease units, so things will change (for the better).


Oh man can’t wait to play with this


Awesome! :relaxed:


Didn’t expect us to be screaming for less, I bet. :slight_smile:


I just ran a paper scoring test using a production GF. Circle manual cut at 500/30, line at 500/1 focus height 0.1". I don’t know if the change of focus did anything useful, this was my first test. Standard printer paper, 22 lbs.

Aside from some visible discoloration, it appeared to work. The scoring did not cut through, and the paper folded exactly along the line.