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The Cricut Maker Engraving tip is another tool in the Cricut Maker tools line-up that you can use to expand your crafting horizons. Here’s everything you need to know about using the engraving tip.
Last month I wrote a post on making a cute Valentine’s Day engraving on acrylic with the Cricut Maker engraving tip. This month I’m going to go a little more in-depth on the engraving tip itself so you have everything you need to start making some very cool projects using this tool.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about all of the Cricut Maker tools but I dearly love the engraving tip so we’re starting here first. 🙂
What Is the Cricut Maker Engraving Tip?
The Cricut Maker Engraving Tip is used for creating permanent, etched designs into materials. Unlike other Cricut tools, the engraving tip isn’t a blade – it doesn’t cut anything. The business end of the tool has a tiny pointed tip that carves into your material creating the design. Pretty cool, huh?
In addition to my favorite material (which is acrylic), you can use the engraving tip on other materials like metal, foil cardstock, even faux leather.
Which Machines Can Use the Engraving Tip?
The engraving tip is part of the QuickSwap toolset available for Cricut Maker and is designed to work with the Adaptive Tool System, which is only available on the Cricut Maker. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use the engraving tip on the Explore machines.
This is one reason why I think upgrading to the Cricut Maker is worth it! Read my post Cricut Maker Overview – What Makes the Cricut Maker So Special? for a complete look at the Cricut Maker.
The engraving tip does require a QuickSwap housing in order to work with the Maker.
You can purchase the engraving tip by itself or you can purchase it with the QuickSwap housing if you don’t have the housing already. The QuickSwap tools are great because you don’t need to buy the housing for every tool! You just need one. Yay for saving money!
It’s so easy to swap out the tips too. Just press the button on the top and pull the tip away from the housing. To put another tip on, press the button again and slide the new tip on.
Loading the Engraving Tip in the Maker
It’s simple to load the QuickSwap housing into the Maker but if you’ve never done it before, it might not seem that way!
The Adaptive Tool System uses gears in order to control the speed and pressure of the tools. There’s a gear on the machine itself and a gear on the QuickSwap Housing.
To load the tool, match up the gear on the tool to the gear on the machine and close the clamp. Done!
What Materials Can I Engrave?
Cricut has provided a compatible list of materials that have been tested and shown to work well with the Cricut Maker engraving tip. When you set your project in Design Space to use the engraving linetype, these will be the materials listed for you to choose from when you go to make your project:
- Aluminum Sheets (0.5 mm)
- Faux Leather (Paper Thin)
- Foil Acetate
- Foil Holographic Kraft Board – Neon
- Foil Poster Board
- Garment Leather 2-3 oz. (0.8 mm)
- Genuine Leather
- Glitter Cardstock
- Heavy Watercolor Paper – 140 lb (300 gsm)
- Kraft Board
- Metal – 40 gauge thin copper
- Metallic Leather
- Metallic Poster Board
- Shimmer Paper
- Sparkle Paper
- Tooling Leather 2-3 oz. (0.8 mm)
- Tooling Leather 4-5 oz. (1.6 mm)
- Tooling Leather 6-7 oz. (2.4 mm)
- Vinyl Record
If the material you want to use isn’t listed…all I can say is try it and see if it works! Cricut specifically states that the engraving tip is not designed to work on glass but other than that, you should be able to test other materials using the existing settings to find one that works!
Using Templates for Engraving in Design Space
It’s extremely helpful to have a template set up that has the exact same dimensions as the material you’ll be engraving. You need to be very precise when you’re arranging your design, especially if you’re using a smaller material like a thin bracelet. You can create your design using the template as a guide to align everything correctly. Before you make your project, you can hide the template objects.
Now, having said that, Design Space doesn’t offer a lot of options for custom shapes. I use Illustrator for the majority of my designs and export an SVG file that I can upload to Design Space.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative than Illustrator, Canva is a good choice. The free plan gives you access to a lot of shapes and images. You’re limited to either a JPG or PNG download with the free plan, but you can bring it into Design Space and erase the background during the upload process. Once you have it on your canvas, you can resize it to the specific dimensions needed.
You might try searching Google for images that you can use as a template too.
The Best Engraving Fonts to Use with the Cricut Maker Engraving Tip
When you’re doing writing or engraving projects, font choice is important. The majority of fonts you have installed on your computer were created using outlines. When you use one of those fonts in a program like Design Space and choose a cut operation the outlines are filled in. The machine will cut around the edges so the words look like you’d expect.
But if you set the operation on that same font to writing or engraving, the outlines become visible. If you were to make this an engraving project, the machine will engrave the outlines of the text which might not be what you want.
BUT! There is a new option in Cricut Design Space to turn certain fonts into a single-line writing font. When you select a font and change the style to Writing the outlines disappear and you’re left with a single line. Now when you go to engrave this text it will just have one line instead of the outline!
Unfortunately, it appears that this feature is only available for Cricut fonts and not for any other fonts you may have installed on your computer. The font in these images is Cricut Sans which is available for free without a Cricut Access subscription. I didn’t exhaustively test this, but none of the fonts I checked that I purchased or downloaded outside of Design Space had the Writing option available.
You can also purchase fonts that were specifically designed as single-line. This seems to be a relatively new thing so there aren’t a ton available yet. I did purchase a single-line font called Dear Agatha from Creative Market. These fonts can be a little tricky to work with but the font designer should include a guide that will help you install and choose the correct one.
How Do I Set My Engraving Project up in Design Space?
This is a design I created for a bracelet I gave Alex for Christmas. It has engravings on both sides so I have 2 templates that are sized to the exact dimensions of the blank I was using – 6 inches long and .25 in wide.
To set up the part of the design to be engraved, you’ll need to change the operation type to “Engrave” (this used to be labeled as Linetype in previous versions of Design Space). Next, you’ll want to attach any separate elements together. This makes it a LOT easier to center your design when you go to make it. For my design, the text “Believe in You Like I Do” was by itself on that side of the bracelet so I didn’t need to attach anything. But I did attach the arrows on each end and the hearts in the middle together.
It doesn’t really matter what operation you give to the templates since we’ll be hiding them before we make the project. I’m setting the template shapes to a Basic Cut operation. This will give me 2 mats to work with so I can flip the bracelet over and engrave the other side once the first “mat” is done. If I had set everything to engrave, Design Space would have put everything on one mat. And since you can’t engrave both sides at the same time I would have to hide one and then set up another project to do the other side. It’s much easier to have 2 mats so you can flip it over before you engrave the 2nd mat!
When you hit Make It, you’ll see that there are 2 mats – one to engrave and one to cut.
I’m going to move one of the templates to the first mat, and one of the engraving designs to the other mat (select the object, click the 3 dots in the upper left corner, and choose “Move object” to move things from one mat to another).
Next, I’ll align the template so it’s a little down from the top. The Cricut Maker engraving tip seems to work best when the material isn’t in the upper left where you’d normally put the material you’re cutting. It’s really important to line this up in a way that you can exactly duplicate when you put the material on the cutting mat. This is a thin bracelet that’s only 1/4″ wide so there’s not a lot of room for error.
I’m lining the bottom of the template up with the bottom of the 2-inch mark on the mat and the left edge is on the 2-inch mark as well.
I’m going to do the exact same thing for the other mat as well, making sure my text is centered on the template.
Once I have everything aligned correctly and before I hit to continue to move on to material and tool selection, I’m going to hide the templates by selecting them, clicking the 3 dots in the upper left, and choosing “Hide Selected”. This will hide the template object but leave the part that’s going to be engraved right where I want it.
On the next screen, you’ll set up your base material. I chose Anodized Aluminum and set the pressure to More just to make sure my design is fully engraved into the metal. Since you set the linetype/operation to engrave, Design Space already knows that you’ll need to use the engraving tip and prompts you to load it. Pretty smart machine.
Setting up Your Cricut Maker for Engraving
Go ahead and load the Cricut Maker engraving tip into the QuickSwap housing and insert it into the clamp on your machine as I described above.
The next thing you should do is move the star wheels all the way to the right. You should always move the star wheels when you’re working with thicker materials so there is plenty of clearance for your material to pass through the machine.
Setting up Your Mat and Material
I like to give my material a quick swab with some rubbing alcohol first to remove any oil or debris the Cricut Maker engraving tip might pick up.
You should use the purple StrongGrip mats for engraving projects. You don’t want your material shifting around while the Maker is doing its thing because that will mess up your design!
Place your material on the mat exactly where you had the template set up in the previous step. I may sound like a broken record about this but more than once I haven’t lined up my material exactly right and the design got out of whack. This caused me to use bad words that are NSFW.
Besides using the StrongGrip mat, I would also recommend that you add some painter’s tape (the blue kind) to really make sure that sucker isn’t going anywhere. Painter’s tape is recommended because it’s designed to be removed easily from surfaces. Other types of tape have a stronger adhesive which will make it harder to remove from the mat.
Make sure the tape will be well clear of where the engraving tip might go because it could damage the tip or your design if the tool goes over the tape. This can be tricky if you’re working with material with small dimensions but use the mat preview as a guide to where you should put the tape.
When you’ve got everything secured to the mat, load the mat into the machine and hit the flashing Cricut symbol to start engraving!
Finishing Your Engraving Project
There can be some debris left over when the engraving is done. You can just brush that off or lightly go over the surface with a little rubbing alcohol.
If you’re making a bracelet, you can use a bracelet bending bar to bend it into shape so it’s ready to wear!
Where Can I Purchase the Cricut Maker Engraving Tip?
Remember, if you already have the QuickSwap housing you can just purchase the engraving tip by itself.
Here are a few places to purchase the engraving tip:
More Cricut Posts
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