How to Laser Cut Acrylic Shapes

By Angela Neal

Things Needed

  • Laser cutting machine
  • Computer
  • Acrylic sheets
  • Graphic editing program

Acrylic that you have cut with a laser has many crafty uses, including forming small shapes, letters and words for jewelry. To make shapes from sheets of acrylic you will need to use the right technique, and you'll need a laser cutting machine to give you a clean, precise cut. You will need to know the basics of using a graphics editing program for creating the shape so you can easily transfer it to the laser cutting machine.

Connect the laser cutter to your computer with the appropriate cable and install the software that comes with the machine into your computer. Laser cutting machines are expensive -- around $8,000 for the cheapest ones, so you may want to find someone who already has one.

Buy the sheets of acrylic in the colors and sizes that you need. Look for them in department stores, online or where craft supplies are sold. Make sure the thickness of your acrylic is compatible to the laser cutting machine and that it is appropriate for what you are cutting the acrylic for. For example, if you are cutting a small acrylic shape to hang from a necklace, the ideal thickness is between 2 and 5 mm.

Open a new document in a graphics editing program. Draw a shape with the pencil tool and size the document to the size you want the finished product to be. Alternatively, you can scan a picture of the shape you want to use or download a template from the Internet. Save the document to your computer's hard drive.

Load the sheet of acrylic into the laser cutter, following the directions in the manual that came with the machine.

Go to "File, Print" in your graphics editing program and select your laser cutting machine from the drop down menu that appears on the print dialogue box. Refer to the instructions that came with your laser cutting machine for the settings to use when cutting the sheet of acrylic.

Make sure the machine is done before you open the lid to remove the acrylic. There is a safety feature in some laser cutting machines that will stop the laser if the door is opened before it is done cutting.

Tip

You can also make engravings in the acrylic by adjusting the settings on the laser cutting machine.

About the Author

Angela Neal is a writer for various websites, specializing in published articles ranging from the categories of art and design to beauty and DIY fashion. Neal received her Associate of Arts in administrative assisting from Bohecker College.