napkin holder with cat engraving

Bending Acrylic
with a laser

Step by step guide

Create this beautiful napkin holder without any acrylic bending machine.


Preparation

Required material

  • sheet of acrylics (2mm)
  • 4-6 wooden blocks (height aprox. 18cm)

Trotec laser used

  • Speedy 400
  • 80 watts
  • 2.0 inch lens

Step by Step

Step 1: How it works

To bend acrylic, you have to warm it up. Traditionally, an acrylic bending machine is used after the cutting process.
But did you know that you can skip the costly extra machine, and bend acrylic with your Trotec laser?
The further you bring the workpiece out of focus, called defocusing, the larger the beam diameter gets, and brings less power to the workpiece. At a certain distance, the laser is not cutting through the acrylic, it simply heats it until it melts.


Step 2: Prepare the table

In order for the material to bend freely, the material needs to be supported at a distance above the working table higher than the length you want to bend. For this you can be creative, for example with wooden blocks, bottles or even laser-cut acrylic supports.

Important – when placing supports, make sure they are not under the part of material that is to be folded!


Step 3: Step by step

1. Engraving
After placing your material, the laser will engrave the workpiece. The engraving areas are filled in black.
2. Cutting the outline
Next, the laser will cut the outline to be bent, but not release the piece from the original material. In the file, this cutting line is marked in red.
3. heating and bending
The laser moves the table down and brings the material out of focus. As described above, the material will not be cut or engraved, it's only heated. It is important that the material is not heated too fast or at too high of a temperature to avoid the formation of bubbles. If the edge is warm enough, the cut will slowly rotate down. The bending lines are blue in the CorelDraw document.
4. Cutting the final edges
The last cutting step will separate the finished piece from the material, and the napkin holder is ready. The last cutting lines are colored with green in the file.


Step 4: Laser settings

Import the PDF file into Corel Draw and send it to the laser.

Engraving (black):

Power: 55% - Speed: 100% - Frequency: 5 000ppi -
Air Assist: OFF

Cutting (red and green):

Power: 100% - Speed: 0.5% - Frequency: 20 000Hz -  Air Assist: ON

Bending (blue):

Power: 35% - Speed: 2.20% - Frequency: 20 000Hz - Passes: 9 - Z-Offset: 90mm -
Air Assist: OFF


Step 5: Clean and ready

Clean the napkin holder after laser processing with water and a soft cloth. Please note that the bending edges can still be warm or even hot!

Tip:

  • This design can also be used as a letter tray! 
  • Make sure that the laser you are using has a deep enough Z-axis to accommodate the bent portions of the design. 
  • You can also remove cutting lamellas for strategic support placement if that option is available on your laser.