Cutting Acrylic

Get a copy of the LEDscape repo, with the following command:

git clone [email protected]:KeithHenrickson/LEDscape.git

In the directory 'acrylic', there are four files. One file cuts the mounting panel for the LED matrix panels, and is provided in version for CorelDraw X5 and X7. The other file cuts 'everything else', meaning the base plate and the control panels.

Before cutting acrylic, make sure you have obtained all hardware that will mount to that acrylic. This is doubly important if you will be sending the CDR files out to be cut elsewhere, as some parts come in many styles and it can be difficult to be sure that you will receive exactly what is shown in this tutorial.

Cut the LED Mount

The first step is to cut the LED Matrix mount. This uses a 12x12 piece of 1/4" acrylic (or any piece with that much available room). Load the file LedMount-*.cdr, and you will find two layers:

  • Guidelines
  • Cutlines

The cutlines layer indicates the path that the laser should cut. The guidelines layer can be sent as lines to be etched, but should not be cut all the way through. This was done to allow the guidelines to be etched as vectors, rather than rastered (yes, there are better ways to do this, I didnt know at the time).

After cutting this, somehow temporarily mark which side is the top. The LED matrix panels will attach to this side.

You should end up with something a little like this:

 

Cut the Base Plate

This is a little more involved. Three pieces are cut from a single piece of 24"x18" 1/4" thick acrylic. Funnily enough, that is the EXACT size of the laser cutter I had access to. The job will use every last bit of this piece, so make sure that the laser cutter origin is set to the absolute edge of the piece. Even a slight margin, and the laser will skip right off the far edge of the piece.

Load the file LedBasePlate-*.cdr, and you will find two layers:

  • Don't Cut Me
  • Layer 1

Nobody ever said I was original. The "Don't Cut Me" layer is only there as a reminder for where things will go. It also holds all of the 'keep away' areas of each thing that gets installed, so that two controls don't get placed too close together.

Layer 1 contains both vector cutting, as well as raster engraving operations, so make sure that your laser software is set to do both operations. After completing this step, somehow mark which side is the top side, all components will be on this side.

You should end up with something SIMILAR to this, but note how the top edge is lopped off. That's what happens when the origin is not set correctly. This step is tricky. I went through three pieces of acrylic before I got one that was usable.

This guide was first published on May 04, 2015. It was last updated on Sep 20, 2018. This page (Cutting Acrylic) was last updated on May 04, 2015.