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Laser Engraving & Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

Working with Glass

Glass engraves very well, and is easy to work with. However, it cannot be cut. Engraving glass creates a white (or near-white) frosted effect with sharp detail.

Both flat and rounded objects can be used with the engraver.

Important Safety Information

There are additional safety considerations when working with glass:

  • Glass can never be cut, only engraved.
  • When engraved, glass debris is often too heavy to be pulled into the ventilation system and can remain on the object. Touching the debris can result in cuts and pieces of glass embedded into your skin.
  • If overheated, the glass can shatter. If there is broken glass in the machine, ask a staff member for assistance in cleaning it up.
  • Never engrave glass in the same spot multiple times as it significantly increases the chance of the glass breaking.
  • Glass can get extremely hot after engraving, so remove it carefully. Heat-resistant gloves are available in the makerspaces.
  • While the light reflected off glass is not laser light, it can still get extremely bright. Avoid looking at the object while engraving if possible. Feel free to ask staff if tinted glasses are available.

Tips on Engraving Glass

Use Soap

If at all possible, cover the part of the glass that will be engraved with a thin layer of soap. Direct or instant foaming dish soap works best as it is easiest to remove. Once properly soaped, place the object in the cutter and set up the images in the software as normal, using the glass settings.

After running the engraving job, remove the object, being careful not to touch the part that was engraved. Rinse the soap off, which should remove any glass debris. You should still be careful and wash the object as soon as possible - preferably in a dishwasher.

Protect the Object

Glass can be scratched on the metal tables in the laser cutter. If possible, put something underneath the glass, such as paper towels or cloth. As long as the laser is firing directly over the glass, it will not damage anything else on the table, including objects directly under the glass. Additionally, using the solid table instead of the cutting grid will help prevent scratching.

Place objects directly onto the table - do not slide them around.

Engrave the Underside

If the glass is clear and flat (such as a plate or casserole dish), you can engrave the mirrored image into the back of the glass. This will put the engraving on the far side, where it will not be touched by food or other possible contaminates, while still being perfectly visible.

To engrave the underside of an object, place the object in the laser cutter upside down - all other steps remain the same in terms of where you place it and using Center Engraving (if needed). In the layout software, import your images, and then horizontally flip the image. Then simply position the image, load the settings, and send the job as you normally would.

Flipping Images

In Inkscape:

Click on the object to select it. On the top menu, choose "Object" and then "Flip Horizontal."

Inkscape - Object Menu

Inkscape - Flip Horizontal


In Adobe Illustrator:

Click on the image(s) to flip and then in the Object menu, select "Transform" and then "Reflect". In the new window that pops up, select Vertical Axis and click "Ok".

Mirroring images in Adobe Illustrator

Round objects

There is a rotary attachment available for each laser engraver that can engrave rounded objects, such as wine glasses and bottles. Please see the Rotary Attachment page for instructions and more information on what types of objects will work.