Wood vs. Acrylic

So I’m a new user and I’ve been putting my GF (Sunny) through the paces. I don’t have any acrylic on hand at the moment. I was wondering if this project would be sturdier in acrylic than wood? The thin pieces are very delicate and I’d rather find a way to make it stronger without bulking it up.



Yeah, probably significantly. (That’s gorgeous.) :grinning:


Thanks! It’s just clipart, I’m still finding my feet lol.


Just be careful with the acrylic - if the thin parts get cut too close together they can warp and/or catch fire.


Oh thank you!! Didn’t think about that.

In my opinion wood has a little more “flexibility” whereas acrylic (while strong) can be brittle when thin - like some of the thin “vein” lines in your image above. Either substrate you just need to be careful when removing masking off of delicate cut lines (believe me :persevere: )!


It’s a lovely motif. You could try cutting it from polyester stencil material—it’s quite flexible. The stuff I get from @smcgathyfay is 10 mil thick and white. Looks great when cut, and of course you can use it as a stencil, so there’s that.


Yeah i broke a few on a different tester earlier today :sad:

Seriously that masking though … 10 minutes to cut it out, 47 to remove the masking haha


That’s really pretty!

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Thank you! I’m hoping to make a line of christmas ornaments.

You might be able to import into Inkscape and put a bigger stroke for the cut line. Just don’t use a fill and find Youtube videos on Inkscape stroke. I"m doing different name fonts and that’s what I’m finding. Good luck, Looks great!

Certainly ways to widen the lines, but the Glowforge ignores the width of a cut line from Inkscape or any other 3rd party package. Probably not what you meant. I tend to read things literally so am likely misunderstanding. For a cut line (vector) it doesn’t matter whether it’s 0.2" or .01" wide. The GF ignores the width and will cut it exactly the same.


No, I think your right, I’m still playing and have lots to learn. Thanks

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You’re on the right track with that, you just need to remember to expand the stroke and then combine the results in order to shift the cutline out away from the center.


So I found a sheet of acrylic and tried it out. The original design worked fine once I scaled it up. I tried a different mandala though and it straight up melted the thin parts. I definitely need to tweak some things if I want to keep them in acrylic.

I’d run a kerf compensation boost to help your thinnest parts turn out a little more sturdy—you adjust in negative amount for interior cuts, and adjust positive for exterior cuts. I tend to run .0058" kerf adjustment for most fine details in most materials, even though my acrylic doesn’t cut with quite that wide of a kerf—it’s a more brittle material.

Even at 3.2mm in both acrylic and wood a filagree design is quite sturdy, relatively, if your finest details have been adjusted for. (Other tactics to help success is to adjust your design vectors so that you don’t have sharp points in fine detail cut outs, or to add small circles at the points of very acute angles.)

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I’m a laser noob so this will require much homework but thanks for the tip!

What if you just cut out the outline of the shape in clear acrylic and sandwiched them together? That way it would be sturdier without looking a lot different. And the one you’ve made doesnt have to live in the scrap pile where sad things go to die.

But then it would be thicker and sort of one sided, so that changes its use a lot maybe.


So I tried the same one with clear acrylic and I liked it. The fine parts held up great and the outside is thick enough to hold up. I think your idea is great just for playing with texture though. There’s definitely promise there.


It’ll also depend a lot on the type of wood vs. acrylic. For example, the black proofgrade acrylic is very flexible compared to the clear proofgrade acrylic which is very brittle. The draft board is significantly more dense than the plywood. You’ll quickly learn through experiment and experience.