Laser Cut Animal Mirrors

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About: I'm a designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.

Intro: Laser Cut Animal Mirrors

Over the summer, I was heading to a few festivals and wanted to bring a mirror to hang in our camp. What better way to get ready in the morning than by channeling your inner spirit animal! I started with one mirror, which quickly turned into two, with plenty of ideas for more. Lion? Unicorn? Alien? The possibilities are endless.

Don't have access to a laser cutter? No problem, order from Ponoko. I formatted the files to be Ponoko friendly - they are ready to go and sized to fit on their medium sized material.

Step 1: Design Process

I started with the design of the antlers and horns. The antlers were easy, I found photo references, traced them in Illustrator, and edited until the shape was what I wanted.

For the horns, I also used a photo as an initial reference, but drew over it in Illustrator using a tapered brush to create the texture. From there I created outlines of all my strokes and merged them to make one shape. To compensate for the fragility of the horns, I added two bridges to stabilize them.

The outline of the mirrors is inspired by old fashioned hand mirrors. I found a few mirrors with outlines I liked, and combined elements which worked well with the shapes of the animal horn and antler cutouts.

Here are the files.

Step 2: Laser Cutting

Once the files are good to go, time to cut! Acrylic mirror can be treated like normal acrylic in terms of laser settings, just make sure the mirror side is facing down so the laser doesn't bounce back at you! The standard settings for our 120 watt laser is 50/70/5000 for 1/8" acrylic, and that worked fine for me. Always do a test first and play around if you find issues with your cut.

Removing the material from the ram takes a little finesse - be careful when removing the cutouts to avoid breaking the delicate pieces.

That's it - enjoy!

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    19 Discussions

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    Simpson_jr

    2 years ago

    You can do (almost) the same with glass mirrors as well. Cutting will probably result in a mess, but it's not hard to laser-engrave one/ remove parts of the backside of the mirror. If you paint the backside black after that, the result is astonishing.

    2015-10-22 16.01.48.jpg
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    JamesA41Simpson_jr

    Reply 11 months ago

    Speechless, that is awesome! Beautiful work and I've never observed that method and is more high end. Really neat.

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    JamesA41

    11 months ago

    That is awesome and fun! I didn't think about using the material as an actual mirror... that is humorous.

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    r0bl0rd

    1 year ago

    Clever!

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    drewberto

    1 year ago

    Great idea. Where do you source your mirror acrylics?

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    Natalinadrewberto

    Reply 1 year ago

    I got mine at TAP for this, but there are probably cheaper sources.

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    ZunderaS

    2 years ago

    Thank You Have a great day

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    Yonatan24

    2 years ago

    I didn't know you can laser-cut mirrors, Doesn't the mirror act as a mirror with lasers?

    3 replies
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    NatalinaYonatan24

    Reply 2 years ago

    You can! As long as you cut mirror side down, it acts more or less like standard acrylic. I just added another step with a bit more info on the laser settings I used.

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    Yonatan24Natalina

    Reply 2 years ago

    Oh, I forgot about that.

    I was imagining an HDD platter which is a double sided mirror, But according to surfer8, That would work too

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    surfer8Yonatan24

    Reply 2 years ago

    It depends on the wavelength of the laser that you are using. A CO2 laser (10.6 micron wavelength) sees glass as a wall, not a window. No matter which way you turn the glass mirror the CO2 laser light will not bounce off, it will be absorbed.

    Humans can see wavelengths between .4(violet) and .7(red) microns.

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    Porda

    2 years ago

    I love the shape of the mirrors, and great idea cutting out the antlers instead of doing an overlay, saves one step and looks great.

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    surfer8

    2 years ago

    Nice work, I like the design. I've always had trouble cutting glass. What settings did you use to cut the glass? It seems that every time I tried to cut glass I encountered micro-cracking caused by the thermal shock. I even tried pre and post heating of the glass to minimize the thermal shock. I never had much luck. Any help would be appreciated.

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    Natalinasurfer8

    Reply 2 years ago

    These are made of acrylic, not glass. I would think you could water jet glass mirror with some precision, but I can't offer any guidance if you are trying to cut glass on a laser cutter. If you want to try with acrylic, I just added another step with a little more info on the laser settings.

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    Just4Fun Media

    2 years ago

    Those are hilarious! How long did they take to etch?

    Have a great day! :-)

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    NatalinaJust4Fun Media

    Reply 2 years ago

    They are cut not etched, and didn't take the that long. The antlers are fast, maybe a few minutes. The ram is more complex so took longer, maybe 10 or 15 minutes.

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    shazni

    2 years ago

    Love the idea :-) except for the shape of the mirror, I think the rest is easily doable for anyone! Vinyle stickers, mirror carving are other options :-)