A Nearly Invisible Tyrannosaurus Rex Made on a Laser Cutter

I made this clear acrylic T-rex at TechShop San Francisco on a 60 Watt Epilog Laser Cutter.  TechShop is this awesome place (only available in select cities) where you pay a monthly fee to get access to a bunch of tools, including the aforementioned laser cutter at no additional cost.

Anyway I have this friend who loves dinosaurs (even though he is older than 8 years) and I needed to cut some other stuff on the laser, so I figured I would make him this 16 inch tall dinosaur.

The dinosaur is practically invisible in photos, but is much more visible IRL. I may have accidentally used 50% vampiric acrylic.  Check the label before you buy.  Tap Plastics is a great source for all kinds of acrylic, although I actually just bought mine at TechShop since it was only slightly more expensive and a mile closer.

Step 1: Create the Design

These laser cutters can just use normal Adobe Illustrator files, the laser cutter acts like a printer that cuts any line with a thickness of ~0 and engraves anything thicker than that.  This T-Rex is entirely cut, so all the line thicknesses are really close to zero.  They're not actually zero because then you can't see them very easily in Adobe Illustrator, so I just put something like 0.00001 in the Stroke box.

To make this design, I found a wooden T-Rex vector design on the internet somewhere, cleaned it up, then resized it so it fit on a single sheet of 18x24 inch acrylic (the maximum size you can use in this particular Epilog Laser Cutter).  TechShop computers usually have a program called VCarve Pro which has this really useful feature that can move and rotate all your vectors around so you have minimum wasted space when cutting.

In my case, after I had the Illustrator file, I exported it to VCarve Pro (probably in .eps format), nested the vectors, then brought it back into Illustrator.  I've attached the nested Illustrator file to this step along with a screenshot of the file so you can see how sweet this feature is.

Step 2: Start Cutting

I cut a couple of test pieces out of 1/8 inch clear acrylic, just to see if it fit.  Please ignore the thing with the circles in it, that is not part of a dinosaur.  TechShop has a guide for roughly what settings to use to cut different materials.  On this particular 60W laser cutter, I believe I used 15% speed, 90% power, 5000 Hz frequency.

Step 3: Assemble

Since the two pieces fit, I cut the whole dinosaur out (took maybe 20 minutes for the laser to cut all the pieces) and assembled it.  It then fell apart and broke.  So maybe don't assemble it on top of a chair.  If you're not sure how to assemble it, convince some kid you'll give it to him if he can assemble it, then run off with the dino once he's figured it out.

I collected all the broken pieces and remade those, then assembled the thing with some acrylic cement from Tap Plastics.  I wouldn't recommend super glue, I tried that first but it got white marks all over the surrounding area (see picture #3).

Wait about 24 hours after gluing for all the cement to cure.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Dinosaur

Ghost Dinosaur terrorizing Rockstar(TM) Energy Drinks.  This instructable is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Rockstar(TM) Energy Drinks.

3 People Made This Project!


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7 Discussions


7 years ago on Introduction

Yup saw the wooden dinosaur I attemped it on 1/8" ply. did not come out the way i wanted. I thought about doing it in acrylic and you beat me to it. Good job man.


7 years ago on Introduction

Now I know what causes those mysterious leg pains in the night!


7 years ago on Introduction

Love the dinosaur!
I also think I read a theory that energy drinks are what actually made the dinosaurs extinct...