Introduction: Laser Etched Luggage Tags
If you have a laser etcher and want to make some slick luggage tags (or any other kind of location specific tag) you can use a map of your home town, spray adhesive, scrap acrylic and a laser cutter to turn out some pretty sweet results.
Step 1: Materials
- Some scrap 1/8" acrylic (translucent colors will give you a back lit effect - ie. classy)
- A map that you like (your home town perhaps?)
- Spray adhesive
- Spray on gloss clear coat (most spray paint companies make a high glass clear coat)
- Aleene's Laminate IT (or some other comparable liquid laminate - look for anything made to stick and seal paper to plastic or "decoupage")
- A brush
- A laser cutter (or an exacto knife, a stencil, and some patience)
- Phone book and wax paper (optional)
Step 2: Cut Out Your Maps and Glue Them Onto the Acrylic
The first step is to figure out what portion of the map you want to use for your lugage tag. I used portions of maps of the East Bay to highlight the areas where people lived who were going to receive the luggage tags as gifts.
Once you have your map sections cut out (about a 3x5 section with the best stuff in the middle) you can arrange them on your acrylic and glue them down.
Acrylic can be a hard surface to glue things onto because it's so non-porous. I found that the best way to stick paper onto the acrylic was by using 3M spray adhesive. The bottle is a little pricey in my opinion, but it actually goes a long way.
Spray down the adhesive, wait and second, and then slap the maps down on the glue. Work out any wrinkles and make sure they lie nice and flat.
I used a piece of wax paper (waxy side down) with a weight on top to keep things pressed while they dried. I think this part is optional since it didn't really seem like the maps were going anywhere.
Step 3: Seal It to the Acrylic With Liquid Laminate
I've had some trouble with using just glue and a clear coat on top to laminate paper onto acrylic so I decided to add in one more laminating product for extra protection.
The craft store hooked me up with Aleene's Laminate IT clear gloss laminate. It brushes on milky white and then dries clear. All in all I think it works pretty well. You can also sand the acrylic surface lightly before gluing down your maps - although I couldn't tell if this really made a difference or not in helping the map to hold on.
Brush the liquid laminate on and wait for it to dry.
Step 4: Spray on a Clear Coat
Once the liquid laminate dries it's going to look a little funky. The final step in the laminating process is to spray on a clear gloss top coat. Krylon makes something called Clear Glaze that works pretty well, but any clear gloss will work.
Go outside and spray down a nice even layer of the stuff to make everything look nice and shiny.
Step 5: Laser Etch the Address and Vector Cut the Tag
I took the dry piece of map laminated acrylic over to the laser cutter and worked up a simple file in Corel Draw that would vector cut the outline of the tag with a strap hole and also etch the recipients' address at the same time.
The vector cut goes all the way through the acrylic and cuts out the outline of the tag. The etching process only burns away the surface of the acrylic and reveals the color of the acrylic below in contrast with the laminated map surface above.
Step 6: Behold the Final Product
Once the etching was done I just cleaned off a little bit of dust and the luggage tags were complete!
Because I used a partially translucent piece of acrylic the luggage tags have a slightly back lit effect to them when you hold them up.