Using CorelDraw & Direct Print Laser to make an Etch Glow Display

We will be using the Firemen Logo Kit Design in this tutorial.

For this tutorial, we are going to use an Epilog Laser (direct print) and the CorelDRAW software package. These concepts will be the same across most direct print lasers and graphics software however some of the terms may be different.

Designing 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:

6 layers of etch glow displays

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 the Black Cardstock.

Open the design file in CorelDRAW. In this case we are using Firemen Logo (CorelDraw) which contains all vector objects.

Design opened in CorelDRAW software

The design will be on the left and the Object Manager on the right.

In the Object Manager window, you will see the Layers that we have built. The Layers represents the pieces of the Etch Glow light.

There are three layers of Clear Acrylic (Front, Middle, and Back).  One for the Front and Back pieces made in the Black Acrylic. One for the Legs also made in Black Acrylic and one for what we call the Backer which is made from the Cardstock material.

CorelDRAW Object Manager

Notice that all layers are Locked from printing and editing by default and the Eyeball (Show / Hide) is only on for the Clear Acrylic Layers.

Making the Front – Clear Acrylic

Hide the Middle and Back Layers by clicking on their eyeball in the object manager and open only the Front Layer. Make sure to unlock the Edit and Print icons on the Front Layer and lock for all other layers.

Front Clear Acrylic coreldraw design

Everything you need to make the Front - Clear Acrylic panel is contained in this layer and is visible on the left.

The Front Layer has 2 objects, a Black/Gray Curve which is the design to be etched and a Red Curve which is the cut line.

Clicking on the Red Curve (Cutline), you see that it is defined as a Hairline thickness, which is how most direct print lasers identify a cutline.  We also made the cutlines RED for lasers that identify objects by color.

CorelDRAW hairline feature

If your laser identifies cutlines differently, you will need to make the proper adjustments. 

To print the Front Layer on your laser, select File / Print. Select your laser in the Printer list:

Printer list screen capture

Notice the drawing in the preview window doesn’t fit the material size. We’ll address that next along with other settings.

Click on Preferences to configure your settings. In this example we are using a 60 Watt Epilog Helix laser: 

Epilog preferences settings

Each direct print laser will have a different window here, but all of them follow the same basic principals. Our settings are:

  • Resolution = 300 DPI
  • Combined Job (both Raster and Vector) or Etching and Cutting
  • Raster Speed = 100%  (engraving)
  • Raster Power = 35%    (engraving)
  • Vector Speed = 20%     (cutting)
  • Vector Power = 100%   (cutting)
  • Piece Size = 6 Horizontal x 8 Vertical

Verify that you image now fits properly on the material in the preview window.

Design Window Dimensions

This design is 6” wide x 8” tall. Others are in the landscape mode - 8” wide x 6” tall. Be sure to check your design matches your material.

Click OK to send to your laser.

Prepare your Clear Acrylic for Lasering

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

Before lasering, peel the cover from the top etch side only.

Acrylic protective layer peel

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

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:

Removing protective layer animations

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.

Our laser is set up for the top left position to be 0,0.  Your setup may differ.

Acrylic in laser cutter bed

Close the lid and start the print job you just sent.

Once the job is complete, you should have an engraved and cut piece that looks like this: 

Cut acrylic in laser bed with labels for engraving and cut lines

Making the Middle – Clear Acrylic

Hide the Front and Back Layers and open only the Middle Layer. Make sure to unlock the Edit and Print icons on the Middle Layer and lock for all other layers.

Middle Acrylic piece in CorelDRAW

Again, the Black/Gray Curves will engrave, and the Red Curve will cut.

File / Print and then follow the same steps as you did before for the front Acrylic piece.

Making the Back – Clear Acrylic

Now, hide the Front and Middle Layers and open only the Back Layer.  Make sure to unlock the Edit and Print icons on the Back Layer and lock for all other layers.

Back Clear Acrylic in CorelDRAW

Again, the Black/Gray Curves will engrave, and the Red Curve will cut.

File / Print and then follow the same steps as you did before for the front Acrylic piece.

Making the Front and Back – Black Acrylic

Hide and lock all the layers except for the Front and Back – Black Acrylic Layer.

Back Black Acrylic

This layer has two Red Curves or cutlines. This layer will cut both the front and back pieces out of a single piece of 6" by 8" black acrylic.

File / Print and then repeat the printing steps.  Since there is nothing to etch on these pieces the laser will start in the cut mode.

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

Making the Legs – Black Acrylic

Black Acrylic legs in CorelDRAW

Follow the same steps to make / print the legs as in the previous step.

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

Making the Backer - Cardstock

Do the same steps to make / print the Backer on the Cardstock material, however, this time we need to make a slight adjustment to the laser setting:

  • Vector speed = 100%  (Cutting)

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

Black backer cardstock


All kit components engraved, cut, and labeled

You should now have all the pieces you need to assemble your Etch Glow Light Display. Check out the Assembly Tutorial up next!