Make an Etch Glow Display using Glowforge

For this tutorial we will be using the Firemen Logo Kit Design.

This tutorial assumes a beginner's level of knowledge with Glowforge. Get familiar, or refresh yourself with tutorials here before continuing.

Engraving & Cutting 

In order to make the Firemen Logo we need to engrave / cut the 6 pieces of material included in the Etch Glow Kit.

Layout of kit items and cutting and engraving outlines

The three pieces on the top row (outlined in blue) will be engraved and cut on the Clear Acrylic and the bottom row will be cut on the Black Acrylic or Black Cardstock.

For Glowforge users, we recommend using the SVG files that were created using Bitmap images. You will find these in your Firemen Logo design files in the Firemen Logo SVGs – Bitmap folder. 

There are 6 SVG files (one for each piece of material contained in the Kit). The objects / shapes for engraving are in BITMAP format and the objects / shapes for cutting are in VECTOR format.

Folder screenshot of 6 SVG files used for creating the Firemen logo display

Start by importing the file named 1 – Front – Clear Acrylic into your Glowforge App.

Glowforge app upload button with a red box around it to show where to click

The material we supply is 1/4” Cast Acrylic. For use with the Glowforge, you can select "Medium Clear Acrylic": 

Screenshot of the 'select material' button in the top right of the glowforge app

After selecting the material, Glowforge will split the SVG file into what it recognizes as Engraving objects and Cutting objects and will place them in separate frames on the far left.

Screenshot of imported design in glowforge app

This allows you to configure each frame with separate laser settings depending on the operation and material being used.

For Engraving operations, we recommend using the following Manual Settings. Select the Engrave layer, then "Draft Photo" option, and input these settings:

  • Speed: 1000
  • Power: 55
  • Grayscale: Convert to Dots 
  • Lines Per Inch: 125

Screenshot of Glowforge app engraving settings for bitmap SVGs

For Cutting operations, we recommend using the default settings for the Medium Acrylic material given by Glowforge. The default settings we use:

  • Speed: 170
  • Power: FULL

Screenshot of power settings in glowforge app

You can save these settings for future use with engraving, or you can tweak the settings to your own preference. 

Prepare your Clear Acrylic for Lasering

The Clear Acrylic sheets in your kit come with a protective covering (Kraft Paper) on both sides to prevent scratching.

Before lasering, peel the cover from 1 side only.

Hand peeling acrylic

We like to take a soft lint free cloth and gently wipe the freshly peeled side to remove any residue left from the covering. Use light pressure only.

Animation of hands peeling a layer of kraft paper from acrylic using a dowel rod

A tip for removing the protective coating (Kraft Paper) is to lift the paper from one corner and then use a dowel rod or round pencil to roll the paper from the rest of the sheet.

Place the first piece of Clear Acrylic in your laser.

The side without the protective cover / Kraft paper will be the side that is to be engraved so place this side up in the laser.

Leaving the bottom paper cover on will prevent scratching from the laser Bed. It also helps with any flash back during cutting process that may come from the honeycomb bed.

Clear acrylic in laser bed

Close the lid and position the design over the acrylic piece in the app. Once it fits, start the print job you just sent by pressing "Print" in the Glowforge app, and then pressing the glowing button on the laser.

When complete, you should have a slide that looks like this:

Acrylic piece etched and cut in laser bed with labels to the shape, engraved area, and cutouts for the screws, legs, and light board hardware

Set this piece aside while you finish making all the other pieces.

Making the Middle – Clear Acrylic

Import the second file named 2 – Middle – Clear Acrylic into your Glowforge App.

Screenshot of second design file imported into the Glowforge web app

Double check your Engrave settings and send to the laser using the same steps as with the first piece above.

Making the Back – Clear Acrylic

Import the third file named 3 – Back – Clear Acrylic into your Glowforge App.

Screenshot of third SVG imported into glowforge app

Check your settings and send to the laser using the same steps as you did before.

Making the Front and Back – Black Acrylic

The next file to import is 4 – Front and Back – Black Acrylic.

This SVG has two Red Lines or cutlines. This SVG will cut both the front and back pieces out of a single piece of black acrylic.

Screen shot of Front and Backer pieces SVG in glowforge app

Check your settings and send to the laser using the same steps as you did before. There's no need to change the material to Medium Black Acrylic since the cutting settings will be the same.

There is nothing to etch on these pieces, so this step will go fast!

DO NOT peel the paper from either side of the black acrylic.

Optional: Making the Legs – Black Acrylic

Our kits come with the black acrylic leg pieces pre-cut, but we still include the SVG and other design files for cutting the legs yourself in our designs. Follow the same steps as with making the front and back acrylic cutouts. 

Making the Backer - Cardstock

The last file to import is 6 – Backer – Cardstock.

For this step, we need to change the material and the laser settings for the cutting since this is a much thinner material. From the top right materials menu, select Use Uncertified Material as your material and input a material thickness of 0.017":

Screenshot of materials menu in glowforge app with "Use Uncertified Material" option selected

From there, you can enter the following cutting settings for the materail:

  • Speed: 500
  • Power: 65

This is very thin material and going too slow on it may cause excess burning so bump up the speed accordingly.

You should now have all the pieces you need to assemble your Etch Glow Light Display. Learn how to assemble the kit next!

All engraved and cut kit pieces