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Now available for free at the Johnson County Library, you can etch or engrave pictures and image files onto most metal-backed electronics including laptops, tablets, and phones. We have an Epilogue laser cutter that makes the job of customizing your favorite accessories easy. If you have questions about whether your device can be engraved or how to do it, feel free to drop by the Central Resource Library and check out our MakerSpace!

Step 1: Materials and Setup

What you'll need:

  • an image (vector, photograph, or an idea of what you want to engrave)
  • an iPad, tablet, or other device with an aluminum back
  • a library card (or access to a laser cutter--we have an Epilog Zing 40w cutter

Next steps:

Step 2: Creating Files in Corel Draw

In the MakerSpace, find one of the PC computers and locate Corel DRAW in the Windows menu. Once you've opened the program, create a new file under File>New and in the drop down under preset destination, select Laser Cutter. This will give you the size and layout of the machine. From here, you can import a template or create one of your own from measurements of your device.

Step 3: Import Images

Once your template is set up using shapes or a downloaded image, import image files into the space you'll be engraving. Move them around to your liking. If you choose a picture rather than graphics, you may want to revert the image into the negative. Ask a Maker Staffer to help out if you need it.

Step 4: Sending the Print to the Laser Cutter

Once everything is in place and you're at the laser cutter computer, be sure to delete any lines that represented your template (the cutter won't know you don't want them there!) and click on File>Print. Select the Epilogue Zing printer and BE SURE TO CLICK ON PREFERENCES. Only by going into preferences will you be able to control the laser cutting settings. Set the page size to 24 x 12" and changes the speed and power settings according to the chart next to the computer. Click OK and OK again in the printer control.

Step 5: Using the Laser Cutter

With assistance from the MakerSpace staff, turn on the venting switch behind the laser cutter. Be sure your file was sent by checking the LCD screen on the cutter. Open the cover and place your test material in the upper left hand corner of the cutter. Press the 'Focus' button to raise or lower the bed so the dangly bit barely touches the material. Press the 'Pointer' button and the 'X/Y Off' button. Use your hands to position the red pointer at the very top left corner of the machine. Press 'Reset', close the cover, and press 'GO'. If all goes well with your test material, place your device in the machine and hit 'GO' again.

<p>what is the setting you put the laser at?</p>
<p>We have a 40 Watt Epilog Laser. For anodized aluminum Epilog recommends at 400 DPI to engrave at 100% speed and 60% power. Higher resolution 500 DPI at 100% speed and 50% power. </p>
<p>So cool! I hope all libraries provide access to tools like this soon. Lucky locals where you live! :)</p>
<p>Yeah! We're really proud to be able to do this for our patrons and we're here to help other libraries get started, too! ;)</p>

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