Pinhole material


I’m a photographer with an interest in DIY and photographic processes from the previous centuries.

I partly bought the glowforge to do DIY camera projects. More than one of those involve pinholes. So, now I’m seeking advice on what kind of material that I can use that are both as thin as possible, light-proof, and laser cuttable.

Also, what kind of setting- and what kind of document would I upload to the glowforge to make holes of different sizes? How small can I go? Pinholes typically are in the range of 0.1mm - 1mm


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Lots of folks use it for creating masking for other projects like body painting or t-shirt stuff. Their posts will have tips & tricks & settings that should work for you. Just do a quick search on mylar and settle in for some rabbit hole reading :slightly_smiling_face:


A wood or black opaque acrylic, lined with black felt would give you a light proof box. not sure where to go from there, thin black felt would be the least reflective, of any other material while Mylar and acrylic are at least some level of reflective even with a matte surface,

TBH you could probably just blast a pinhole through your lens cap - which is very easy :slight_smile:

I know this is normally done with foil, I wonder if you could punch a hole in foil with a GF?

Mylar would be another bet. You could even use paper.

How about paper soaked in water proofer to keep the damp out.

It kind of doesn’t matter if it’s not durable - you’ve got a laser and can make another :slight_smile:

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Nope - at least not easily. Tinfoil is one of the things you can use if you need to rerun a section of design - you lay it over the part you want to protect!


For pinholes you’re going to need vector lines - so any vector art program (:glowforge: recommends Inkscape). Your laser has a kerf (the amount of material that gets vaporized) of about .125-.200 MM (depending on material depth/reaction to the laser) so you’ll need to figure out what the kerf is on the material you’re using if you care about the exact size of your pinhole, and then adjust the size to take that into account.

Since it sounds like you’re new to the :glowforge: I will strongly recommend you go to and run through the First Three Prints - it’ll teach you both how this particular laser works, as well as the programs to get art into the laser. Once you have the terminology the ability to search on this forum is priceless!

That has not been my experience. I measure my kerf at .007 inches. Something’s wrong if you’re getting kerfs of an eighth of an inch and larger.

A pinhole in mylar would likely be even less than .007 inches.


Sorry, I changed to MM since the OP was using those, but didn’t change my text.

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The kerf on my plasma cutter with steel is an order of magnitude bigger than the laser - runs about 0.065 or 1/16 of an inch. I sometimes use the same design on both machines and I have to be careful of the kerf because some details can be lost.

And some nicely rounded ends on things on the laser become sharp blood letting points on the plasma cut version. :grimacing:


That is actually a very good starting point. 0.007 inches is in the lower range of pinhole sizes.

Thanks. My current work flow is OnShape CAD to DWG file to illustrator to PDF. Works so far even if its a lot of saving, importing and exporting.

Im imoressed by the forum, machine and tech support so far :+1::+1::+1::raised_hands:

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Can I get maylar sheets in black? Some Googleling found me blank sheets, and not as thin as id hope for.

Ideally I’d need a super thin opaque marerial with little kerf…

I’m not sure that spray painting it would affect the pin hole.

Why not heavy black cardstock?

i was thinking that as I read your post. I do that about once a week when dealing with different measurement systems.

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This is card stock printed with a 0.1mm hole in the center. The hole comes out 0.2mm, that is perfectly fine. But as I expected, card or paper does not produce a round and even hole.

I guess I’ll. Just have to try different materials and look at the results in my microscope


I’ve seen it used in “lordy lordy Bob is forty” balloons so it must be available somewhere. There are folks here who should know where to source mylar that might have it. (Or buy the balloons without getting them inflated and cut them up for use :slightly_smiling_face:)


Mylar works as a pretty decent solar filter as well!


@smcgathyfay was our resident expert on cutting mylar with the laser for use as a stencil. She probably has sources for all sorts of colors and thicknesses. I haven’t dug through her posts but I’d bet she had at least a couple on sources back when we were talking about her SI Swimsuit issue work.


Hey!!, @jamesdhatch …it’s been too long since I’ve been here on the forums! Thanks for the nod :slight_smile:
This product may do the trick. It’s about the thickness of most card stock…
I’ve never used this specific product personally but it’s made of polypropylene like other materials I use all the time, which is very laser able.