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Our makerspace had a set of french curves and hip curves on loan while we had a fashion designer as a member and instructor. Since she moved I've been thinking about getting replacements, and then thought that I might as well just make them myself since I have access to a laser cutter and some spare acrylic.

Step 1: You Will Need...

  • Access to a laser cutter.
  • French curve template
  • 1/8" Acrylic, 12"x24" to get both a metric and imperial set. If you only want one or the other one set will fit on a 12"x12" piece. Any laserable material would do, though I opted for acrylic, mainly due to it's transparency, but also because it's durable, has some flex and cuts really well.
  • Green Clean (or other mild glue remover).

I have attached the cut files as well as the original printable template that I used to create the file in CorelDRAW.

Step 2: Laser Cutting

I used an Epilog Fusion 60-watt, and 1/8" acrylic with the adhesive backed kraft paper protective coating still on. So the settings I used might not apply if you're using a different system and/or material.

Etching/Raster

Speed - 75

Power - 70

Cutting/Vector

Speed - 10

Power - 100

Frequency - 100

Step 3: Clean Up

Once the cutting has completed, remove the protective coating from both sides of the acrylic. I sourced my acrylic from Inventables.com and they used an adhesive backed kraft paper as a protective coating. The lasering process incinerated the paper surface a little past the edge of the engraving, leaving bits of glue residue in some of the more detailed areas. Despite looking clean at first glance, the residue was quickly apparent after a little handling.

I often use Goo Gone to remove labels and tape, but was unsure about whether it would impact the clarify of the acrylic. So instead I used Green Clean, general purpose cleaner, which has both mild paint stripping and adhesive removal properties, plus I know it won't have an effect on the acrylic.

Spray the Green Clean on, leaving for 2-5 minutes allowing in to penetrate and moisten the glue and any residual kraft paper. Rub rigourously with a paper towel or rag, and wipe dry. Repeat. Glue is easily lodged in the detail of the etching.

Now your new French Curves should be clear, beautiful, and ready for use.

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