Picture of Laser Etched Beads
A couple weeks ago I made a laser etched baseball, and ever since I've been sort of hung up on the idea of lasering into other spherical objects. After some deep thought, etching round wooden beads into tiny globes is what I came up with.

In this Instructable, I will explain how to use the rotary attachment for the Trotec Speedy 300 to make extremely detailed etchings around beads. The pictured beads include globes, beads with numbers and words spiraled around them in continuous lines, and some with a basic silhouette monkey to man evolution picture. I have lots more ideas for images that would look cool etched onto beads (Death Star Beads!). I'm sure you've got some ideas too - put them in the comments!

I made it at TechShop.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
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There is tons of room for experimentation with this process for making beads. Try using different types of beads and paints, and let me know how it goes.


- spherical, cylindrical, barrel shaped, or other approximately round beads. I bought mine here.
- spray paint, wood stain, anything you think will change the color of your beads in an interesting way so long as it's laser etch-able. I bought Flat, Satin, and Gloss spray paint, and all three worked well.

- laser cutter/etcher with a rotary attachment
- bead jig (see next step)

Step 2: Bead Jig

Picture of Bead Jig
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To make beads using this process requires a jig that beads can be strung onto and that fits securely into in the rotary attachment. I made mine using a large wooden bead, a drill sawed wooden disk, and a piece of music wire (steel rod) cut down to a length of about a foot. I wrapped some tape around the wire so my bead would fit snugly and turn with the jig.
BrittLiv1 year ago
I especially like the one with pi, good job!
npagden1 year ago
very nice, now all I need is £10,000 for a laser cutter =(
I am amazed at the quality of the world on that bead as well as the writing! Too cool.
adamwatters (author)  Mizchief1001 year ago
thanks mizchief - I'm pretty blown away by how clear these are coming out myself. you can actually etch things clearly at such a small scale that the limitations comes more from people's eyesight than the machine. i was etching smaller before, but if people can hardly read whats written or recognize the images, it kind of defeats the purpose - right?
How exciting!! You are pushing the capabilities of that machine and getting some great results. Thanks for the directions. Your beads should be a hit!
adamwatters (author)  joppenheimer1 year ago
great compliment - you've made my day, joppenheimer. thanks!
what really excellent idea! thanks for sharing.
adamwatters (author)  Mindmapper11 year ago
thanks mindmapper! glad you like them.
Awesome idea. Wish they had a techshop in Atlanta
adamwatters (author)  halofreak1011 year ago
thanks halofreak, and techshop is a great place. take action! find some like-minded Atlantians, get organized, and let techshop know you want a location in your city (... i had nothing to do with bringing techshop to Pittsburgh and know very little about the process of lobbying for a new location. but hey, it's worth a shot!)
bulsatar1 year ago
How could the Death Star not have been the first thing you etched??
adamwatters (author)  bulsatar1 year ago
haha, find or make me a usable image and I will etch one tomorrow! it needs to be rectangular - like a surface map of the death star. trust me, I'm working on it.