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I have been obsessed with learning all about the Cricut Engraving tip lately. There are so many things you can use it for! My latest project is this acrylic engraving that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day!
One of the best things about the Cricut Maker is all the tools that really help extend what you can do with the machine. I’ve been playing around with the engraving tip a lot lately seeing what works and what doesn’t. I made Alex a cute engraved bracelet for Christmas and I also made everyone in the family engraved ornaments for 2020.
I’ve been on quite the Valentine’s Day kick lately so I created a design to engrave into acrylic. Yes, you read that right! You can use the Cricut engraving tip on acrylic. *Mind blown*
Engraved acrylic looks so cool when it’s paired with an LED light base. This would make a great nightlight or as part of your home decor.
Read on to learn how to engrave a design into acrylic and use an LED light base to show it off. I’m so excited about this project!
Materials Needed for Project
- Cricut Maker. You can only do this project with the Cricut Maker since that’s the only machine that will accept the QuickSwap tools
- Cricut QuickSwap Engraving Tip
- Acrylic – I’m using a 5 inch round acrylic disk for this project
- LED Color-Changing Lamp Base
- SVG or Design File
Set the Linetype to Engrave in Cricut Design Space
Creating a project with the Cricut engraving tip is pretty easy but it does require a little set up to get the best results.
If you need some help getting your file into Design Space, read How To Upload SVG Files to Cricut Design Space Like a Boss.
Once your file is on the canvas. you’ll notice there’s a circle shape around the design itself. I do this to make it easier to line up the design in the center of the mat. We’re going to hide that before we cut but for now, leave it visible.
This design was created to be engraved on a 5-inch round acrylic disc. If you’re using another size, you’ll need to change the size of the circle to the dimensions of the material you’re using and resize the design accordingly.
If you’re using my design, other than maybe resizing it, the only thing you need to do is change the linetype to Engrave for the layer that contains the design. You can leave the circle to cut and hit Make It.
To grab my design, you can purchase it from the shop or by adding it to your cart below.
One quick note about the font I used in this design. It’s called Dear Agatha which is a single-line font. I break down the difference between single-line fonts and regular fonts in my post about using the Cricut pens to make Thanksgiving pie toppers. In short, “regular fonts” are created using outlines where single-line fonts are not. Regular fonts will appear as outlines in a program like Cricut Design Space when you select the Draw or Engrave linetype. A single-line font will just show up as….a single line like you see in the design below.
Center Your Design on The Mat
Here’s where the circle comes in very handy. In the Prepare Mats screen, center your circle in the dead center of the mat. When working with the Cricut engraving tip, it works better to center your material on the mat instead of the upper-left which is the default.
Now center your design in the circle. Once you’ve got the design situated where you want it, hide the circle so it doesn’t cut. Hit the three dots in the upper left of the box around the circle and choose Hide Selected. The only thing that should be visible in the mat preview is your perfectly centered design!
Set Your Base Material
In the next screen, we need to set our base material. The acrylic disks I’m using are 1/8″ thick. Google tells me that this is 3.175mm. The thickest acrylic material available in Design Space is 2mm and that’s what I chose. I could have tried to set up a custom material but I’ve used this setting with no issues on many projects.
Load the Cricut Engraving Tip
Before you continue, make sure that the QuickSwap Engraving Tip has been loaded in your machine. It’s easy to load the QuickSwap tools. Simply line up the open gear side of your tool with the gear in the tool slot on the machine.
Remove the Protective Plastic from the Acrylic
Acrylic is a really soft material that’s very easy to scratch so most likely your acrylic disc will have protective plastic on the top and the bottom. Don’t forget to remove this before you engrave or you’ll be very disappointed in the results…ask me how I know that. It can be a little hard to see but if you work the edges gently with a fingernail it’ll start to come up and you can peel it right off. Don’t use the scraper or weeding tool for this or else you might scratch the surface.
Another point I should make is that some of the acrylic discs you can buy on Amazon may have a little hole in them for hanging. Be sure to place the hole at the bottom when you put it on your cutting mat or you’ll end up with a visible hole at the top of your finished project and cry a little. Again, ask me how I know this… If you’re using the LED light base, the side with the hole will fit right into the slot and won’t be visible at all since the base will cover up the bottom 1/4″ or so of the disc.
When I created the design, I accounted for the space that will fit into the slot on the LED base so the design stops just above that.
Prepare Material and Mat
Contact Paper Method
I’ve recently started using cheap contact paper from the dollar store a lot to protect my mats from getting dirty. Why in the heck would I do that when the mat is sticky??
Certain materials can dirty the cutting mats pretty easily. Leather, I’m looking at you.
It’s really important to keep your material completely secure on the mat when you’re working with the engraving tip. You don’t want any wiggle room or else your design might get messed up if it shifts while the engraving tool is doing its thing.
It’s recommended to secure your acrylic (or whatever your material is) to the mat with painter’s tape. The painter’s tape works great to keep the object nice and secure but I’ve found that it’s also really hard on the mat when you remove it. It’s easy to clean your cutting mats but I prefer to try to keep my mats as clean as possible for as long as possible because I’m lazy like that.
I’ve used the contact paper method for the last few projects I’ve made with the engraving tip and it’s great! No tape residue and no little bits that get left behind on the mat when I pull the tape up.
This is just plain old clear contact paper that I’m using. The trick is to put the smooth non-sticky side down on the mat so when you remove the backing the sticky side of the contact paper is facing up.
Then you place your acrylic on the sticky part of the contact paper and tape around that, keeping the tape on the contact paper and not the mat. You can barely see the contact paper in the picture below because it’s clear but it’s there. Trust me, this acrylic isn’t going anywhere!
Center Your Acrylic on the Cutting Mat
Line up your acrylic disc in the exact center of the mat just like when you centered the circle before. It’s really important to get this placed correctly or your design won’t be centered. Also, if the engraving tip runs off the edge it could damage it too.
It’s time to engrave. Finally!! It seems like a lot of steps before you can actually make the thing but it’s worth it. This is what it looks like once it’s done engraving. There will be little bits of acrylic leftover but they’re easily removed. After I remove the acrylic from the mat and get all the tape off I wipe it down with a paper towel and a little rubbing alcohol. This will get rid of the acrylic bits and any fingerprint smudges.
Enjoy Your New Light!
These LED light bases are so cool. The set I purchased comes with a little remote so you can change the colors, the speed, and some other settings. The side with the hole goes right into the slot in the base so you can’t even tell it’s there.
Pretty cool, huh?
Creating awesome custom engraved acrylic projects is so much fun and it’s easy to do once you know the tips and tricks.