My friend DJ AGANA is a member of Few and Far, and she wanted to make some jewelry for her crew.  She had prepared images, I had access to a laser cutter, and this is the result!  She writes, "Few and Far is a movement that brings together dedicated, talented women all around the world. Skateboarding, graffiti and art, we consist of a team of open minded, creative every day females."  Check out their work at Fewandfarwomen.com .

Step 1: Image Processing

I'm going to assume you have already made the artwork you want to cut from acrylic.  Due to the constraints of the laser and the strength of the material, there are some rules of thumb for best results.  Colors, obviously, will not show up!  The software does do an automatic greyscale dither if you have a raster image you want to engrave, although with testing you may find you prefer to do your own dither (dither is basically, replace smooth shades of grey with many tiny black dots, like in an old b&w newspaper photo; more dots, closely packed, for a darker area and fewer, spaced out more, for a lighter area).

We only made vector cuts on these particular pieces.  For best results with vectors, try to avoid having any very thin sections, especially thin sections supporting other areas, as they are prone to breakage.  Tiny holes are hard to pop out and may require a lot of tedious work with a toothpick or the point of a knife if you have many of them.  Holes with complex shapes may also be difficult to remove from the finished piece - consider breaking them up into smaller, less complex sections. Thin, wiggly areas make removal of the frisket (the paper coating on new acrylic sheet) difficult.  You can take the frisket off first and cut the acrylic "naked" but you may get smoke stains on it.  I prefer to leave the frisket on.

We used an Epilog laser cutter, and printed directly from Adobe Illustrator.  It is also possible to print from Corel Draw if you are more familiar with that.  In Illustrator, I first made a tiling of the images on a page the same size as the acrylic sheets we had bought (we had scraps in various sizes up to about one square foot).  Then I made sure that all the lines were set to a stroke width of 0.007 points.  We did some experimentation to come up with this number - 0.25pt, 0.5 pt, and 0pt, all did not make any cut at all.  If your print file does nothing at all when you press Go on the laser, check your line widths!  In Corel Draw, the correct stroke width is called "Hairline" and is in the pulldown menu, but in Illustrator you have to enter it by hand.


About This Instructable




Bio: I run Neal's CNC in Hayward, CA, an expert CNC cutting and fabrication service. Check out what we do at http://www.nealscnc.com ... More »
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