Will Glowforge sell or recommend a premask material



I’m sure materials will be available from Glowforge which come with a premask (a removable film or tape material that protects the surface of the object you’re cutting, for anyone unfamiliar), but if I find some materials locally that I want to use, is there a particular kind of premask you recommend that works best with laser cutting?

They use a 3M premask material on adhesive vinyl where I work, but that’s all cut by a plotter or by hand. I imagine there are differences in the makeup of adhesives, thickness of the backing, etc. which would need to be accounted for. A recommendation would be helpful to source a good material that is an adequate size roll for larger projects.

Any suggestions?

Tape covering of material to be cut/engraved

This has come up in other questions, you can probably find a few good links if you dig around - but the short of it is that there’s all sorts of laser masking (including, perhaps, the more obvious masking tape) you can use on your materials. Just be sure to put it on in a uniform layer - if you overlap it at all, your output will likely change, leaving a flaw in your image.


I had planned to use wide painters masking tape for most of my applications easy enough to cover a 12x20 sheet in a few passes and if you have ordered the pro it would be great for long cuts and cheaper then masking the whole piece.


I’ve used this for vinyl lettering, it’s basically wide masking tape, and i just happen to have a 12" wide roll…



Yes! but there is a difference. Masking tape will get old and tough and tacky with time. The Vinyl application tape is less tacky and easier to remove from projects. I use two kinds for vinyl in my workshop. The transparant kind for multicolour vinyl stickers and the regular kind for 1 colour stickers. That last one is fine for masking of acrylic surfaces.

It is available on a roll in a variety of widths as well as can be cut in custom widths by the distributor.


I found this stuff too:


For those of you who have had experience with lasers, does this masking material reduce/eliminate the surface burning on wood?


I have been using blue painters tape on living joints, so lots of cuts very close together. And the reduction in smoke is negligible.

But… I do not carefully smooth out the tape all along the extent of contact. And that is likely the main issue with my perception of it being useless. Even the smallest of gaps, and smoke can push through and deposit on the wood just fine.


Hate replying to myself, but it has been long enough since the earlier post I am uncertain if the OP will notice an edit. I found the last piece I tested masking on and took some pictures.

This first image is the piece taken straight off my scrap pile. I have done some other cuts since this one, and my ventilation system is half-shod at this point. So some extra smoke got on it. You should be able to tell where the tape had been applied (the bottom half, in case you couldn’t tell).

These next two images are after I rubbed the wood with a cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol (I hate spelling that out, I swear I have it wrong. I just wanna call it IPA!). I only cleaned the middle two segments of hinge, leaving the outside two as uncleaned reference. The hinges change little enough, but the area between you can no longer tell a difference between masked and unmasked. There is far less difference at this point in the masked and non-masked even on the hinges, but the shadows obscure that a fair bit.

Now, as stated: I did not make any attempt to smooth down the tape when I applied it (mostly because I put it on while the laser was running, and wanted to get out of there before there was any chance I burn my fingers!). If I had ensured full contact and a proper bubble free adhesion, then there would likely have been less difference. And the proximity of the cuts also made it an unfair case for the masking, since most of the masking was ablated.


Depending on the size of material, we usually either use masking tape or ‘contact paper’ for larger pieces-- the actual 3M brand is not vinyl based so is safe for laser use. Also, a tip for getting the smoke residue off most surfaces – hydrogen peroxide takes it right off, especially from wood and acrylic.


Great tip, about the peroxide for smoke residue. :smile:


Hi, I bring back this message since I am new with lasers and in preparation of receiving the glowforge, I wanted to find a covering tape to protect wooden panel from burning. I contacted 3M and they suggested to product: the 7113-71423mtm-repositionable-paper-label-material-7113-and-7142.pdf (13.4 KB)
and the FP016902 FP016902 series.pdf (246.7 KB).
Does anyone know if they are actually any good and where they can be obtained? (more specifically in Canada)
If not, What kind of covering you would suggest to protect non Proofgrade product (ie wooden panel)?


We don’t offer any such product, but I’m moving this to Beyond the Manual where people might be able to recommend 3rd party products for you to try.


Johnson plastics sells a mask that works well. It is a bit expensive as it comes on a large roll. Should last near about forever unless you do lots of stuff that comes unmask and needs it.



The Johnson Plastics stuff is TransferRite (you can see it written on the inside of the core on the product page). The cheapest source I’ve found for the medium-tack TransferRite is at USCutter:


As of today, USCutter has the 12"x100yd roll for less than half the price of Johnson Plastics. I ordered a roll just yesterday, so I can’t comment on how well it works (yet).


We look forward to hearing (please and thank you) :innocent:


I have a spool of it, but I was having adhesion issues on regular BB ply. I went with the SignWarehouse one which was much stronger adhesion (ultra).


Well, that was quick! USCutter shipped the morning after I ordered and it arrived the next day (today). UPS Ground is pretty speedy when it stays in the same city.

I’ve tried the TransferRite on a couple items (acrylic and pre-finished wood) and it works very well. Pretty much exactly like the masking on Proofgrade stuff. I was afraid it would be difficult to apply without wrinkles or bubbles, but it goes on really easily. Cuts nicely and comes off cleanly, too. I think I’ve found my preferred masking.

Now that I have some in hand, I’ve done a little more digging. It seems all the consumer-oriented sites that carry TransferRite are aimed at the vinyl sign-cutting market, but the manufacturer (ABI Tape) specifically describes it as “protective laser masking.” They recommend 582U (the medium-tack product) “for use on smooth surfaces like glass, plastic and metals” and 592U (the high-tack version) “for use on textured surfaces like wood and plastic.” That explains the experience @henryhbk had using it on BB.


This is great! Thank you so much for the information @bdm1… I was able to order an 18”x100yd roll for about $55 after shipping (coupon WELCOME17 takes 10% off, currently).