You can pick your friends

For Christmas my daughter got a Ukulele from my mother. It seems like every waking moment since then she walks around the house playing it and making up songs. She wanted a pick for it so we decided to try making one out of some 1/32" acetal plastic I had and wanted to test with anyhow. I’d already created a Reuleaux triangle shape for a rotary engine design I was working on and decided to use that. It even had a hole in the middle with gear teeth that might be interesting. I made an alternate one with a simple star pattern in the middle as well which was good in the end since it worked better. Turns out the many tiny gear teeth of the original one pushes too much heat and just melts out the center (and maybe starts burning the rest of the material away a bit until you blow it out :sweat_smile:). I also had my original settings too high with power 100 and speed 30 (very melty), then 50 (still too melty), then 80 (pretty close but still a smidge melty), then 100 (not quite enough to get through in all spots) and finally at speed 90 which worked well.
Here are some of the first attempts with different speeds and scale adjustments.

In general acetal seems to be a more melty material than acrylic is so the edges can often round at the corners (always makes me wonder what would happen if you tried to laser cut shrinky dinks… :slight_smile:) These were done at speed 50 and the star pattern was usable, but the gear one was just a mess (but being a non-stick material, it was easy to clean up!)
This one was done at speed 80 and turned out better.

Here’s the two next to each other

Then, because I’m a dad, I made this one and told her it was a pick-achu :slight_smile:



Note that we don’t have acrylic acetal/delrin (at least not yet) so you have to source it and experiment with settings to make it work.


Dad jokes are always the best. I can see the laser lady making a couple pick-a-chus I bet. :smile:


Okay…the pick-achu is just awesome! (I love a good pun creation!) :smile:


I’m sure most of you have heard this one:

Never shower when there’s a Pokemon around.

He might Pikachu!


Very cool. You could also try making picks out of wood and round the edges with sand paper. That’s one technique I’ve been planning to try once I have my GF.

My brother is a musician who organizes a small music festival every year and I want to make him some picks with the festival logo on it.

So far I haven’t found much in my research on sources for more common pick materials that aren’t already labeled, or even if it’s laserable.


Is there a need for Proofgrade acrylic and acetal? Isn’t it all the same as far as laser cutting is concerned?

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Thanks for the pictures of the first runs and the results.


Great project!

When I was little, my father used to tell me, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” Were you referring to that expression ?! What a great “dad” line! :point_up_2:


Well, cast vs extruded acrylic will give different results, so there’s that potential, at least. It also makes sense for them to offer PG materials in as many examples as they find reasonable to offer, not because it’s a big difference, but just because it would capture that additional sale and bring in more money.


I know cast and extruded acrylic have different mechanical properties but do they evaporate differently?

Yes it might make sense for GF to sell them but not necessarily for me to buy them.

Unless they sort out local distribution I can’t see me using any more than the free samples because shipping prices from the US to the UK are ridiculous. Shipping from China is much less and it has to travel a lot further. And I can ship stuff to the US from the UK much cheaper than the US can ship to me it seems.


i don’t mean from manufacturer to manufacturer, i simply refer to the differences in the process itself. a lot of people who buy these won’t understand why some acrylic may respond differently. while either will usually be fine in a laser, you can expect slightly different finishes when engraving; additionally, one may be more prone to crazing than the other, etc.

and if you know what you’re doing and choose to buy it elsewhere that’s obviously fine. by capturing the sale i mostly refer to someone who is already making an order and needs to get some acrylic besides - many people, barring a huge price delta, will probably want to go ahead and grab some for the convenience of making a single order. it’s not likely going to cost them much at all to offer decent acrylic so it’s something they might as well do.

Personally have only limited experience using picks. My preferred string instruments are played without. But it amazes me how picky (pun intended) each and every one of the dozens of musicians I play with can be on size, shape, thickness, material, contour and friction for their preferred picks. Plan on anything you make with a laser to be a novelty, not a “go to” pick. But have fun with it.


YEP!!! I play guitar and it AMAZES me just how many different kinds of preferences of picks are out there. Some people like the thinnest of picks and just have a ton of them since they break.

I tend for a medium thickness pick, but I’ve also played around with a Fatboy pick at times. I’ve seen people who prefer their picks to have a hole punched out of the center, or texture on the edges to help with a particular style.

Pick preferences are unique to each person and playing style.


Yeah, that’s certainly my plan. I’d make them as commemorative items for the bands at the festival, him, etc. If I could find unlabeled/unmarked versions of the Tortex picks that he usually uses I’d also try to engrave those, but as is I expect to just be making mementos for him to share.

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You’ll let us know, I suppose. :slight_smile: We plan to have Proofgrade acrylic available, and you all will vote with your dollars if it’s a good value. I know you’re outside the US, so your economics may also be different from others’.

My experience in sourcing my own acrylic has been wretched, with things mislabeled - cast vs extruded, acrylic vs other plastics, paper coating that wasn’t laser compatible, etc. But if you have a great local supplier dialed in, that might make sense for you.


Once Glowforge secures reliable, consistent and available Proofgrade stock, will Glowforge be selling product inventory only through a http://store.glowforge,com or will Amazon also be a sells and delivery platform?


Maybe this should be a separate thread. I’d hate to see any information about how Proofgrade material is going to be sold or distributed buried in this thread.

Just my two cents :slight_smile:

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The clear ProofGrade acrylic you sent is really amazing. Everyone asks if it is glass.I’d vote for you all to at least carry that. As to the acetal, I haven’t yet tried it but I do have a thin sheet from Laserbits. I wasn’t paying attention to the thickness (more to the price!) and would have liked something a little thicker for making some gears. I’ve also been mulling the idea of using the acetal as a die or a stamp for leather; however, when I saw how well the Corian engraved, I think I could do some pretty cool stamps or embossing with that.

As to the picks: I have one of the pick punches. It’s pretty cool. I’ve thought of using the Glowforge to cut out little handles for them as a way to use wood and slot the cutout of the pick into that hand.


No plans to announce yet. :slight_smile: