How to Engrave on Acrylic

Written by kristine brite
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How to Engrave on Acrylic
Preparing an image for engraving on acrylic is done on a computer. (computer image by michele goglio from Fotolia.com)

Engraving images or words on acrylic is a personalised art project that helps to capture memories. Software programs and laser engraving make the process easier than in the past. It's important to note that this type of engraving can only be done on the "cast" type of acrylic; not the "extruded." Acrylic is a recommended choice for laser engraving because it's inexpensive and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Engraved acrylic items make innovative gifts or cherished keepsakes.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Cast acrylic
  • Photo editing software
  • Laser engraver
  • Acrylic cleaner
  • Soft rag

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Create the image to be engraved. If it's a photograph, retouch and edit to preference, including removing blemishes. For other images, create the image and upload into a photo editing software program. Resample the image to the size and resolution that will be engraved. Create a black background if it isn't also going to be engraved. To engrave words onto acrylic, use the photo editing software to type the text and change the font type and size as desired. The words are an image now, too.

  2. 2

    Reverse or mirror the image. This means flipping it backwards. Software programs are designed to do this step. Download one of them to prepare the image for engraving. Follow the instructions from the downloaded program and save the file.

  3. 3

    Prepare the acrylic by flipping it to its backside. New acrylic pieces have protective plastic layers on both sides. Remove the back plastic layer but leave the protective layer on the front side of the acrylic.

  4. 4

    Open the laser engraving software and place the acrylic under the engraver. Import and position the image where it will appear on the acrylic. Engrave at high speed and low power.

  5. 5

    Remove the smoke residue left over from engraving with a soft cloth and acrylic cleaner. Turn off the engraver right after use.

Tips and warnings

  • Never leave the engraving machine unattended; acrylic is flammable.

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