First, I am going to assume you have already have experience with using the Epilog laser etcher/cutter.  In addition, I also assume you have some familiarity with Corel Draw X5 or are good with software in general. I made this at the TechShop in San Francisco. What this means to you is I'm not going over simple stuff like how to focus the beam, set home origin so I am assuming you already know these operations.

There are some items you might want to etch which are too small to place by themselves in the Epilog laser. The reason the small items can’t be placed in the machine without a jig is that the machine shakes slightly when it’s doing vector and a lot when it’s doing raster work.  Another problem is that it you will need to align the piece perfectly perpendicular to the laser rail so that the art work is aligned properly.

The easiest way to print on small pieces is using a jig.  Wikipedia ‘s definition of a jig is: “… a jig is a type of tool used to control the location and/or motion of another tool. A jig's primary purpose is to provide repeatability, accuracy, and interchangeability in the manufacturing of products.[1] “

So here is a quick way to make a jig. For this example I am going to make it for a luggage tag made of anodized aluminum.

Step 1: The Corel Draw X5 file

The luggage tag I am using for this example is 3.875 by 2 inches. We are going to cut the jig out of .125” thick laser approved acrylic that you can obtain at the Techshop or from online retailers such as laserbits.com. The jig is comprised of two pieces: The cut out layer and the backside. You will notice that the back has a hole in it to make it easy to pop out the luggage tag after you’re done.

The file for making the jig is included in CorelDraw X5. You’ll notice that all the lines are hairline and therefore correspond to cuts on the Epilog laser. You could add the name of your jig on the front or back and maybe your name in raster so you can keep track of it. Obviously, this is optional.

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