View Full Version : Still Learning and a Question on Acrylic

Michele Welch
01-12-2014, 9:38 PM
I am still learning my laser and turning out some items, but happened to run across this company that's somewhat local to me and if the pictures on their website are accurate, they are really cool, but I'm stumped as to how they do it? Can anyone point me in a direction or give me any advice? They are calling it a 3D engraving on acrylic.

Thanks for the help!


Chuck Stone
01-12-2014, 10:04 PM
That appears (to my eye) to be routed rather than laser engraved. They might have
a CNC router to do this.

Michele Welch
01-12-2014, 10:10 PM
That's kind of what I thought, but it states that it's laser engraved.

David Somers
01-12-2014, 10:57 PM

There are some examples of that deep looking acrylic work on the Epilog site.

I don't believe we are supposed to put links onto our messages. But, if you go to the Epilog Laser Web site and choose Resources from the Main Tab, followed by Tech library from the subordinate tab that will open, then look for an article on "Creating a 3D effect on Acrylic and Glass" you will find what you are looking for. I think. Good luck.

For the moderators, if my description of how to navigate to that article is not appropriate as an alternative to a direct link is there a way of doing this that you would find acceptable?


Keith Outten
01-13-2014, 1:32 AM
Links to other websites are allowed in posts. In fact, they are encouraged. However, links for the sole purpose of marketing, generating traffic to a site, or any other commercial advertisement deemed to solicit commercial benefit are not allowed. Links to other public or private forums are not allowed. Links should be submitted as references, for the sole purpose of generating or supporting discussions on SawMill Creek.

Paul Phillips
01-13-2014, 12:54 PM
Michelle, I do this all the time on my CNC, I can see the tool marks in the photo, simple and easy to do, you may be able to use the Epilog technique for certain things but the CNC will do it much faster.

David Somers
01-13-2014, 1:44 PM
Thanks Keith!! That helps!!! Much appreciated! <grin>


Matt Turner (physics)
01-13-2014, 1:58 PM
Paul, are you able to get corners that sharp with a router? I agree that it looks like there are tooling marks in the image, but I can't think of how to get the edges and corners between the different faces that sharp with any sort of bit.

Higher-power lasers like our 400W Kern are capable of doing true 3D engraving. Look at the bottom of http://www.kernlasers.com/3d_laser_engraving.htm for an example in acrylic.

Paul Phillips
01-13-2014, 4:32 PM
Matt, on the CNC it would be done with a 90deg conic bit and the toolpathing software (I use EnRoute Pro) would create the 3d effect giving the chiseled look, I don't doubt that it can be done on the laser with the right file and enough power but I can do the whole thing in less than 5 minutes from creation to completion on the CNC. I love the 3d laser samples, I have one of the Kern ones, I think they are incredible and are good for showing the detail that a laser is capable of but I've yet to see anyone who has been able to make any money creating them. When someone can make a program that will create the greyscale image in one click then it will be viable.

David Somers
01-13-2014, 5:26 PM

I could easily be wrong on this, but the example I saw of this at the Epilog dealer here in Seattle was actually quite shallow. It just looked like it was a deep 3D engraving in the acrylic. And it didnt seem like it would take too much time to engrave? I do think you are right that a CNC would be the better bet for production work of this sort. But for a small laser engraver outfit doing a limited number of these it might not be too bad for the length of time needed? Of course, Any laser dealer, Epi or otherwise, would like us all to think it is Ohhhhh so fast and lucrative. But this seemed fairly reasonable when I was there.

Anyone actually done one of these with an engraver who can chime in and put this in perspective for us?

Dave Sheldrake
01-13-2014, 5:57 PM
The "Grade Engrave" function on a Chinese machine can do that but it takes a while.(designed for making rubber stamps)

It does look a little like routing but a top line machine (Haas,Mitsu,Mazak) will do that sort of thing easily so the ripple lines may be heat rather than tool *chatter*



Paul Phillips
01-13-2014, 6:06 PM
David, you are correct on the Epilog example it wouldn't take too long to engrave although setting up the file seems like it would take the longest, I was thinking more in terms of the full 3d files that Matt was showing from the Kern website, they use Gantryco grayscale files which look incredible but take many hours to create which is where the you lose the ability to make money in my opinion, the advantage of doing a 3d engrave with a CNC is that it catches the light and gives a very cool effect when edge lit, I wonder if the Epilog etch would give the same "pop", maybe someone has tried it and can chime in?

Bert Kemp
01-13-2014, 8:37 PM
Just to give Dave an idea of the time involved I did this 3d of the horses its approx 10.5 x 8.5 and took about 5 hours to do. Very hard to tell by the photo but might be 1/8 inch deep not really sure but its on 1/4 stock and doesn't go thru.279816

David Somers
01-13-2014, 9:11 PM
It will be a while before I get home. Am now on hour 14 at the office and still have an hours bike ride to get to the house so I can't spend a bunch of time on this. But looking at the Epilog method again, it appears they are using 4 different shades of black (90% 80% 30% and 20%) in the file and raster printing the bulk of it at 100% speed and 55% power, with some vector printing to provide crisp outlines. So that doesn't look to me like the typical 3D engraving technique of rastering each gray scale level with different power settings to get different depths. This is simulating a 3D effect if I am reading it right. And seems like it would be reasonably fast? Perhaps I am reading this all wrong though.

And please accept my apology. Many of you know I am still not a laser owner. I am trying to learn from you folks by furiously reading posts and digging through literature and asking questions, but I am a newbie non the less. Please forgive any misconceptions I am throwing your way. But it does appear to me this Epilog method is avoiding an actual time consuming multi power level 3D cut?


I have to get dressed and start pedaling home! It is late, and windy and wet right now. Later! Cheers all!

Chuck Stone
01-13-2014, 11:54 PM
But it does appear to me this Epilog method is avoiding an actual time consuming multi power level 3D cut?


Yep .. it seems like simple shading to give a 3D effect. similar to drawing

But if that's all that's in the photo, kudos to the engraver
and I have to take my hat off to the photographer too.

Paul Phillips
01-14-2014, 5:36 PM
Ok, so I tried the file off the Epilog website just to see what it's all about, it's a cool concept but I wasn't really that impressed with the final result, I did a couple tests at lower power but ended up going 80%s, 80%p which seemed to give the best effect, also did same shape on the CNC with a 120deg conic bit in some 3/8" Acrylic, much faster and much better effect if you have the capability IMO, and is much better at picking up the light when edge lit, (FWIW).
Can't post pictures for some reason.

David Somers
01-14-2014, 5:53 PM

How long did it take for that compared to a full 3D style engraving? Just curious. Did it seem like a reasonable technique for someone without a CNC to use? Would you consider it more of a one off technique? Or is it useable for small scale short run production?

Thanks for doing that!! Not having a laser kind of hampers a person when looking at this type of thing.


Paul Phillips
01-14-2014, 6:30 PM
David, I would say it's definitely a reasonable technique, you should be able to run it at 80-100% speed on most engravers, I'm sure once you get the layout process down it shouldn't take that long but that's where I think it will either make or brake the technique as profitable/viable, i.e. can you get the money for the extra time it will take to set up the file, it's just going to take someone who has time to experiment with it more in order to find out.