Introduction: Laser Fabricating a Sign Using Rowmark's the Naturals
I have been wanting to make some signs that have an outdoor texture and pattern to them, but have not had the material until this point. I’ve finally found the material needed to make the signs that I have pictured, and have come up with an efficient process to construct them that I thought would be great to share with you. Below is a list of materials that you will need when constructing the specific sign that is shown above.
Materials & Tools Needed:
· 1 sheet of Rowmark The Naturals Aspen Grey/Black 1/16” Engraving Plastic (Item #TN922324)
· 1 sheet of Rowmark The Naturals Carbon Ash/Black 1/16” Engraving Plastic (Item #TN922194)
· Epilog Fusion M2 Laser engraver (or other laser engraver)
· Masking tape
· Rubbing alcohol
· 3M 467MP 2” X 60YD .002” Adhesive Transfer Tape (Item #T467MP2)
Step 1: Set Your Job Description for Your Sign in the Laser Engraver
This text and logos were designed using CorelDraw, and then loaded into the Epilog Laser Engraver Software that is built in to the machine. You will need to go and set up your job description to tell the laser what and where you want it to cut and engrave. The instructions for the job are listed as follows:
· Type: Raster Engraving
· Speed: 78%
· Power: 18%
· DPI: 600
· Engrave from bottom up *
*Important Note: Engraving from the top down could potentially result in debris getting trapped in engraved areas that would be very difficult or improbable to clean out due to the exhaust from the laser. By engraving from the bottom up, this problem is a lot easier to circumvent.
Step 2: Measure the Material to the Correct Proportions for the Laser
Take your sheet of plastic (in this case, Rowmark The Naturals Aspen Grey/Black 1/16”) and cut it down to the correct proportions needed to fit into the laser engraver properly. In this case, you want to cut it down to a square of 12” X 12”. After you’ve done this, you can begin to place the cut plastic into the laser engraver. *
*Important Note: You may want to tape down the plastic sheet that you place into the laser engraver to the rulers that are inside the machine. This will prevent the material from moving around when the engraving actually starts. You don’t have to tape the material down, but it is worth doing just on the off chance that something could move and mess your design up.
Step 3: Start the Job
Once you have taken all the necessary steps and precautions, start the engraving on the machine, and wait until it’s done to proceed. This particular design took about 8 minutes to engrave.
Step 4: Set Up the Job Description to Vector Cut the Shape of Your Sign
After engraving your design, now comes setting up the laser engraver to cut out the shape of your sign from your material. The instructions for the job are again listed as follows:
· Type: Vector Job Description (For this laser engraver it is a hairline RGB Red in order for the laser to read it, but yours might be different, if you use a different laser engraver.)
· Speed: 20%
· Power: 66%
· DPI: 600
· Frequency: 100%
After the job is done, it can be taken out and cleaned in preparation for the next steps.
Step 5: Clean Your Cut Out Sign
For The Naturals, it can actually be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, as debris may be on it that you don’t want to be present in the final look of the sign. Other plastics may or may not be cracked if cleaned like this. Check with the manufacturer of your material.
Step 6: Repeat Step #2 for Your Next Sheet
Take the sheet that you are going to be applying to your first sign (In this case, it’s Rowmark The Naturals Carbon Ash/Black 1/16”) and cut it to the correct proportions for the laser (again, it’s 12 X 12”).
Step 7: Apply Adhesive Tape to the Back of Your Newly Cut Plastic Sheet
After cutting out the 12 X 12” square of plastic sheet, you will need to apply your adhesive tape to the back of the sheet. This is so you can apply the cut-out shapes to your cut out sign shape from earlier. *
*Important Note: Take special care to ensure that no air bubbles are left on your adhesive tape, because when the laser is cutting through the plastic and the adhesive, it can catch on fire and potentially pose a safety risk.
Step 8: Put the Second Sheet in the Laser Engraver
Be sure to check your settings when you place the sheet in the engraver, as the settings are mostly the same as before, but now we will have the laser make two passes because of the adhesive on the back that it has to cut through in addition to what it was cutting before.
Step 9: Begin the Job
Make sure your design specifications for the next part are loaded into the laser engraving software. After all of that is done, you can begin the process of cutting out your shape to apply to the first piece you cut.
Step 10: Remove the Adhesive and Apply It to the Sign Shape
Once the shape is cleaned, you are ready to remove the adhesive paper from the back and use the sticky residue that it leaves to apply it to your cut sign shape. After it is placed how you like, your sign is complete.