I have seen a lot of faux typewriter keys on Etsy where my wife and I have a shop. These faux keys look really good, but a lot of them are paper printed on an inkjet printer and glued to a round piece of wood. The way they are printed gives the impression that they are 3D but really are not.
I wanted to learn how to utilize the 3D setting on our laser cutter, I have seen examples of Damask and Floral patterns rastered in 3D. So I decided to give it a try. The results are very impressive.
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Step 1: Create Circle Template
First step is to create a simple key template that will act as the foundation for all additional steps. For whatever reason I picked 21mm as the diameter of the circle. Remember the diameter is the distance from one side to the other through the middle point, and the radius is half of the distance from the middle to the outside of a circle.
Make sure that the circle has an outline width of hairline if using CorelDraw so it will be cut out on the laser.
Step 2: Create 3D Gray Scale Contour
With the newly created circle selected, give it a 100% uniform black fill color.
Open the contour tool and select 'to inside', offset of .005, and 1000 steps. These numbers will change automatically based on what is feasible within the software.
Next click on the contour color button, select a 100% white fill color, and 100% white line color.
This will create a raised image contour. The white area will have less laser beam applied thus less material removed, while the darker areas will have more laser beam applied and more material removed. Thus giving a 3D finish.
Step 3: Create a Letter
Use the text tool to enter a letter.
Step 4: Print Using 3D Laser Setting
The next step requires telling the print driver to utilize the 3D settings.
When ready to print, go to the advanced tab within the print driver screen and select the radio button for 3D.
At this point your ready to print, you will need to adjust your laser power, speed, and frequency settings depending on the material your going to use.