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