Awards & Engraving

August '19

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20 • A&E AUGUST 2019 E dge-lit LED acrylic signs and artwork can produce striking visuals for in- store displays or for pleasing artwork to enhance any environment. In this tutorial, we take it up a notch by creating two-layer artwork, each with its own color. REQUIRED MATERIALS Background art layer materials: • 1 clear 24" X 36" cast acrylic sheet for engraving the sky/stars • 1 black 24" X 36" cast acrylic sheet to provide backing for the sky/star layer Foreground art wireframe materials: • 1 clear 15" X 36" cast acrylic sheet for foreground material protection • 1 clear 15" X 36" cast acrylic sheet for foreground wireframe landscape engraving • 1 black 15" X 36" cast acrylic sheet for foreground landscape backing Note: We use a 1/4" cast acrylic material, which is ideal for edge-lit projects because it is roughly the same size as the 1/4" width of the average LED light strips. Base mount: • 4" X 4" X 3' pine wood (We use a standard construction-grade Doug Fir Lumber [Common], which is actually 3.562" X 3.562".) Lighting: • 1 variable color LED strip light kit to light the foreground • 1 single color white LED strip light kit for the background Machine used: For this example, we used the Laguna EX series laser. It has a bed width of 36" X 51" and power to cut through 1/2"-thick cast acrylic with its 150-watt Reci laser tube. STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL Step One: Find a graphic to use as a fore- ground. We found an Adobe stock image of a 3-D wireframe model and used this image (vector file) as our foreground. We also used a photo of a night sky to create the background. The key here is that you create a well-defined foreground that allows for precise separation from the background plate. The original artwork was assembled as two pieces in Photoshop and blended into a single black-and-white bitmap (JPEG) file to use for the master 24" X 36" engraving composition. See image 1. We also created a black-and-white mask to delineate the earth and sky portion, which was brought into Illustrator, and for a Live Trace action to create the simple vector shape outline curve that we could use to cut the wireframe foreground art. See image 2. The master art foreground plate was engraved at 30% max power at 300mm per second, and the master cut line was set at 60% max power at 7mm per second. We wanted the engraving to cut a nice groove into the acrylic that would allow for a more dramatic appearance when edge lit. A deeper groove into the cast acrylic cre- ates much more surface area for light to bounce around and illuminate. However, your design might need to be more subtle, so keep in mind that the power setting and speed is always a variable. Stuart Christensen is a laser CNC enthusiast and Fine Artist based in Laguna Beach, California. He works as a videographer/photographer/3- D artist and creates media for the web, photographic art for walls, and everything in between. For more information, please visit How to Laser Process Acrylic Signage with LED Lighting By Stuart Christensen For this example, we used the Laguna EX series laser. ALL IMAGES COURTESY STUART CHRISTENSEN

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