Laser Cut Ply for Acrylic Inlay - LED Wedding Sign

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Hi all,

I am wanting to create some signs for my wedding for the bar and a few other areas and want to backlight it. I either want to have white/clear-frosted acrylic so I can have the ability to use colour-changing LED strips or coloured acrylic so I can use a standard white LED.

I will want this to be inlayed into 5-10mm thick ply and the sign will be probably 500x400mm (enough to fit in the Trotec), which I might stain, paint or even engrave some design. I would box the signs up so the depth is wide enough to hold the components and attach a fixing to the back to hang.

Essentially I want to do this for the front panel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub2CBFIYbzk&list=WL&index=1

The setup an cutting of the ply is easy enough, but when they start talking about the kerf is what get’s me worried. I’m happy to do a few test cuts at a smaller level as the materials are relatively cheap, but want to make sure I’ve got it dialled in for the full size sign/s. I understand that the laser removes part of the material when it cuts, but how do you calculate this across both ply and acrylic?

I could easily YouTube this but I prefer chatting with someone and playing around with test cuts. I’ve also found some information on different materials but I’m guessing each machine is different and there may be other factors involved: https://cutlasercut.com/drawing-resources/expert-tips/laser-kerf/#:~:text=in%20a%20drawing-,What%20does%20laser%20kerf%20mean%3F,experienced%20when%20cutting%20thicker%20foams.

The font I’m using is called Lobster and an example of the bar sign text would be: (wedding is in France so thought we’d add a little Frenchness to the signs with a classic ‘Le’)
image

Here is another example of the inlay: https://www.instructables.com/Laser-Cut-Acrylic-Wood-Inlay-Flowers-Using-Illustr/

I’m going to be in the space for the textile night tomorrow (18th) and will play around with some other small laser projects (also for the wedding) so if anyone is around let me know.

Lastly, if anyone has any ideas for the lighting please also let me know. I was planning to use something like this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Powered-Cuttable-Changing-Backlights-Decoration/dp/B07ZDPLT35/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?keywords=led%2Bcolour%2Bchanging%2Blight%2Bstrip&qid=1673965253&sprefix=led%2Bcolour%2B%2Caps%2C90&sr=8-2-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGY&smid=A3KGBE2EVIKQO1&th=1

Cheers,
Luke

Our 150W laser cutter has a kerf of about 0.2mm, but it depends on what you’re cutting and how thick it is.

Another possibility to consider is edge-lighting the acrylic. Several people have done that successfully for signs, infinity mirrors, etc. You would just use clear acrylic, about 1/4" (6mm) think and engrave the surface. Then put a short LED strip on the bottom edge inside a wooden holder. The engraved areas will pick up the light. Not trying to usurp your plans, just offering an interesting alternative I’ve seen people make.

Inlay is pretty cool. I’ve done it with iridescent acrylic sheet in plywood for give-away pendants. It only takes a couple of tries to get it dialed in.

Thanks Roger, definitely going to look at a few options so will give that a try.

I’ve tested it out on scraps tonight and have managed to get a loose fit but looks great.

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