Making Custom Gift Bags With a Laser

Introduction: Making Custom Gift Bags With a Laser

It started with the gift bags. They were cheap, they were bought for a wedding, they were not used. That left me in possession of paper bags I could use for something and new found skills with a laser etcher. It seemed natural to apply the one to the other.

Hitting the laser with a bag had no effect so I decided to try hitting the bag with the laser, instead. Gotta say, that rocked pretty hard.

I made it at TechShop! Here's how...

The plan was to take the gift bags and etch them with a custom saying. My wife's birthday is coming up so I decided on the simple epitaph "Happy Birthday Dorita" but you can put anything you can create in CorelDraw on you bag. For example, you could etch a picture of a bottle of wine or the face of the recipient or, for a wedding, the names of the happy couple and the date. Since it just takes minutes to etch and the bags are cheap, you can do dozens of bags in just a few hours.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

You need...
* A gift bag (or several gift bags)
* Roll of tape
* Laser cutter (I used a 45 watt Epilog Helix laser cutter at TechShop)
* CorelDraw

I assume in this instructable you know how to use a laser cutter.The program that works best with the TechShop lasers is CorelDraw. So I bought a copy. Unfortunately, I got CorelDraw  x6 and TechShop uses x5. Be sure to save your work in the CMX format so that it can be opened anywhere rather than the default CDR format which is specific to the version you create it with (or get x5).

OR for a simple saying you can just do it on the computer at the TechShop.

Step 2: Create Your Design

I'm going to assume that you know how to use CorelDraw. If you don't there are some very nice video tutorials on the internet.

Measure your bag. Create a window of the right size.

Use the letter tools in CorelDraw to add words to your window. If your bag is like mine (with a handle), it will be upside down so you probably want to put the words at the bottom and turn them around so they are upside down.

I used 72 pt  "Commercial Script BT" font which was on the machine at the Shop. Unfortunately, it wasn't on my home machine so I saved it with a different font that looks similar.

Or you can import a graphic.

Step 3: Laser Etch Your Bag

Put the bag in the laser. I put the sided of the bag with the bottom folded up down because that gives you more room for your graphics.

Tape the bag down so it's as flat as possible (being careful not to get the tape anywhere you want the graphic to be).

The bags I had were pretty thin so I set the power low; otherwise the laser will cut right through.  I set the laser on a speed of 70 and a power of 20%.

Apply the laser. It only took a few seconds.

Etch your other bags, if you like, and you're done.

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