Possible with 3D Engraving?

So you wont really be able to 3d engrave those shapes out with any cleanliness. it doesnt give a specific depth, or a super consistent one. What would be easier is to make your design into layers and just cut out each of those layers and glue/weld them together. It would also take a LOT less time that way.

However, what I feel is your best option, is to make a master, make a mold with it, and cast it. Youll reduce turnaround time, and youll have a much nicer finished product. Trying to machine every single one of those will just eat up waaaayyy too much time.


Just an idea, maybe laser it as “2” seperate parts? Do the big flat face plate as one piece, then all the “back” parts seperate. For positioning, just do a very light score/engrave just to mark out pieces, on the back of the face plate.

The parts that need to be threaded can be “drilled” with athe laser, and then taped manually. Wood takes taps quite well(side note, wood sucks at standard dies, in my experience. Doable with big threads, but not machine threads).

Just an idea.


The thin walls are probably what puts this out of the realm of a good idea - removing 95% of the material and leaving 5% behind means depositing a ton of heat. It’s likely that what’s left will not be as precise as you’d like.


I am not saying it is realistic but if you ablate 94% of the material leaving sufficient margin around the thin parts then you have transformed the problem into one of removing a small amount of material on a second pass avoiding the “ton of heat” problem.

Normally on injection molded parts, they like a consistent wall thickness. Alot of that material removed on the back side of the part is to save on material costs, lighten the part, etc. 3D printing mimics this technique.

But if you laser cut this, you should look at the part differently. I would use @jordanloshinsky 's idea but evaluate the back side. If you don’t need to cut out anything, then don’t do it. An example, would be the 4 holes. They should be cut out for sure, but might not need all that removal around them.

We have all seen keyboards, computer mice made out of wood. This might be a clever way to make a wood controller.


What @buschtrent said. Injection molding is (essentially) an additive process where it costs you to have more material so you mostly only do it for structure or ease of injection. Lasering is subtractive, so you really only want to take material away where you need holes or clearance.

Oh, and where you do engrave, you might want to play with defocusing so you get a smoother surface (because in this case you want clear).

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I can understand the poor depth to gray-scale values when using wood, because it is a non-homogeneous material, but do you think you could get better consistency when 3d engraving something homogeneous like acrylic?

As in a grayscale value of 150 might go down 0.20 in. in between the growth rings of the wood, but at the ring, it might go less deep because the wood is denser there. But in acrylic, the density is constant throughout, so you would theoretically always go to a particular depth with a particular value. However, this does not account for local heating based on where the laser has most recently been firing.


Thanks for all the input guys! I never thought about all the heat being a factor and warping the smaller pieces. Guess I need to start thinking with lasers! That said, I’m sure @jordanloshinsky 's idea is the best way to go. There’s also some wiggle room with the smaller pieces regarding thickness. Or I could even get those smaller pieces 3d printed.

Now it’s time to start fiddling with some files. I think I’ve put that off long enough, the multiple glowforge delays have made me procrastinate lol. (But I don’t mind, I swear!)

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Yes, I have a feeling this is an issue the GF tech staff are struggling with right now.

Oooooh, this is a great idea! While we’re on the video game topic, has anyone thought about engraving Xbox One/Xbox 360 controllers?

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It has been discussed amongst my friend group. A friend got a custom engraved controller for her birthday that was exorbitantly priced. We thought it would be much more cost effective to do it ourselves.

However, I dont think engraving on a curved surface works yet, so gonna have to wait for that to be available before going forward with that.


Thanks for the reply! Once my Glowforge comes along I’ll play around with the idea as well :slight_smile:

I have a dead PS4 controller I’ve been holding onto to test. Someone else actually did laser their Xbox controller: http://imgur.com/a/NUtZ4


You might want to try a combination solution. 3D print the complex interior spaces, then laser cut a really cool face veneer out of wood or plastic.
Just like this awesome example: Pre-Release | Structure

Thanks for the post! That is exactly what I’m looking for, and it’s good to know that there are more people here with the same idea’s. Perhaps once the Glowforge is released and we all have it someone could make a Gamers Lasers group and it will be filled with discussions about everything gaming and lasering related!


Compiling some gaming related laser projects sounds great. One of my first projects is going to be etching an aluminum 3DS case for my husband. If you haven’t checked it out yet, look at the stuff Rose Colored Gaming has. (A quick search refreshed my memory that I actually heard about it on these forums.)


Ha! I was about to paste that link, but got lost in ADD land


Video Games and Lasers

I’m a huge fan of RCG and they are a major reason I’m getting a glowforge! I actually posted a while back about them


I did not know Rose Colored Gaming existed…I’m definitely bookmarking their page now! Also, sounds like a great project! My first gaming related plan is to engrave my controllers and some of my friends.

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