Introduction: Laser-cut Laptop Screen Protector

Lots of laptops have this annoying problem where their screens will touch the keyboard, when the laptop closed. Over time, the keys will put finger oils onto the screen and slowly abrade marks into its surface. It happens faster if you carry your laptop in a bag that compresses the laptop slightly, like I do.

One solution is to get a $20-$40 "screen protector"; you lay one on your keyboard before you close it. They also serve as lint-free screen-cleaners.

After doing some research, I found that the best material for these screen protectors, "Ultrasuede", is readily available and much cheaper when purchased in bulk. So, I purchased a couple yards and used the laser cutter at Instructables HQ to precision cut myself some screen protectors, complete with the embossed image of the Instructables Robot.

Some pics of the finished product are below. Click on the Steps, above, to see how I made it.

Note: You can easily make these laptop protectors with a pair of scissors instead of a laser cutter, as long as you don't mind not having the "embossed" effect on them.

See also Leah's keyboard cover, which uses an old Instructables T-shirt!

Step 1: Get You Some Ultrasuede

I ordered my Ultrasuede online (just Google for it) and found some discounted stuff for about $35/yard. You can make a dozen more screen protectors per yard, so they can be cranked out at less than $3 each.

I even found some that's not too far off from the Instructables orange. Bonus!

Note: User Sinner3k suggested that eBay might be a good source for ultrasuede. I looked around and found that he was right. Ultrasuede remnants (perfect sizes for this project) can be had for a third the cost of what I bought it for!

Step 2: Figure Out Laser Cutter Settings

The first thing I did was to figure out the right settings for our Epilog laser cutter. I documented it all, here, in case anyone wants to work with Ultrasuede again. Photos of my experiments for both raster and vector cuts are below, with exact settings specified in the image notes.

For the raster cuts, I wanted to know how much contrast (burn) I could get without creating a rough surface on the Ultrasuede.

For the vector cuts, I wanted to know how much power would cut the Ultrasuede, and how much would simply score it.

Step 3: Set Up Your Design

I used Adobe Illustrator to set up my files for this project. All of the Instructables logos can be found here. The finished files are attached to this step.

Step 4: Cut Out Blanks

First, I made a batch of four blank screen protectors. I did this by cutting a swath of Ultrasuede just wide enough for a screen protector and cut all the way across my piece of Ultrasuede. This turned out the be four screen protectors almost exactly. I fed one end into the laser cutter, cut out a protector, trimmed off the flashing, and then moved more Ultrasuede in.

Note: The notches at the lower left and right hand side of the screen protector are to make room for the rubber pads on the top half of the laptop. They also happen to look cool :)

Step 5: Burn in the Image

Once the blanks were done, I added the images to the center of each screen protector. Here's a video of me doing a vector etching into one of them, as an experiment (the others were all done as rasters.)



They came out really well! No more scratches on my screen...

Comments

author
gadgetguydk made it! (author)2012-01-26

What wattage is your Epilog?

It's difficult to translate your power settings if you don't specify this.
Say if you have a 30 watt, and I have a 80 watt tube in my laser, I'll probably burn my way to China rather than "lightly scorch" my UltraSuede ;-)

author
stephenniall made it! (author)2009-04-15

Very nice wish i had a lasercutter .. LUCKY FOR ME the Cnc mill in my school has screwed up and they're going to buy a Lasercutter Woo Lol

author
dunnos made it! (author)dunnos2009-04-16

that's awesome, my schoolo doesn't even have a lathe -_- or wood for that matter

author
stephenniall made it! (author)stephenniall2009-04-16

Thats a bit .. Dumb lol maybe you should appeal get a meeting with your Head teacher and Ask her if you can get one And is she says well Money's a issue Show her some printed instructables on making cnc machines etc Say with some help you could make these Etc lol i know she'd probably say yes if you Got people to sign a petition . But if you get it Then its awesome woodwork in my school is We have A woodwork club on monday dinner and We get to make something we want not something we're being taught and Atm im about to start a Laptop (Gonna build a laptop out of wood then bring in a old laptop and mount all the components inside it!!

author
frankal made it! (author)2008-12-09

Good suggestions all. Another take on the problem: (http://lappytoppy.com). This one is a flexible plastic sheet with user-customizable images on each side. Just pop it in when closing the lid. Also serves as mousepad or writing surfact. Something for everyone. :-)

author
GorillazMiko made it! (author)2008-04-23

I pressed that exact same green Go button when I was at the HQ. :P And I agree with Scammah, I would buy one. Or win it in a contest. I don't have a laser cutter. So I can't make this. :P

author
Scammah made it! (author)2008-03-24

I would totally buy one of these from you if you sold them

author
nagutron made it! (author)nagutron2008-03-25

Not selling 'em. Sorry... Maybe they'll be prizes in a contest, someday. In the meantime, you can always make one yoursef :)

author
Sinner3k made it! (author)2007-10-31

Nothing when you use the one at work. Check eBay for remnants and lots of ultrasuede. -S3K

author
nagutron made it! (author)nagutron2007-11-01

The eBay tip is a good one. Scraps suitable for this project can be had for next to nothing, there. Thanks!

author
inspector_fegter made it! (author)2007-10-31

Wow...how much does your laser machine cost?

author
nagutron made it! (author)nagutron2007-11-01

Ours is an old Epilog laser that may have cost as much as 10k, back in the day. Newer models are cheaper (we demo'd a Versalaser for a while, too) but still thousands of dollars. But hey, you can make these with a pair of scissors, too :)

author
Brennn10 made it! (author)2007-11-01

Just makes me crave a laser cutter even more! Nice job.

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