Laser Cut Stencils Guide
Stencils are used everywhere where, but to produce them to perfection you need to pay attention to artwork you make. This guide will show how to make stencil artwork for laser cutting. Stencils can be cut with CO2 laser, fiber laser, CNC and blade vinyl plotters. regardless of what machine is used to cut them the all get cut and unlike a printer all cutters cut through material fully so all unsupported parts will fall off.
So lets say we want to spray paint this image below.
If you print out our image it will look perfect on paper, font is good size is good BUT if you send this art for laser cutting as stencil this art is not good and you will NOT get what you expected to be on paper. This font has letters B, oo, e,o that have inner elements. When laser cutting machine cuts out black area you get sign style letters that you can stick to something and you are OK but stencil needs negative space and as result all inner elements will get lost.
Here is what happens when art is cut as stencil.
As inner elements of stencil were not supported by bridges ir tabs they got separated from main stencil body and when you spray that art you get big black holes in certain letters.
To avoid this, bridges or tabs need to be added to stencil artwork. This can be dome by cutting letters with eraser tool. So basically walls of the letters are separated and this allows main body your material to hold inner components. Example of properly setup stencil artwork will look like one blow
Same technique is used to make actual artwork with more complex thing then just plain text signs.
Another thing is to keep in mind about stencils is wall thickness of your bridges. If walls are too small then there us chance that bridge will burn out when lasered and inner part will be lost. Best to keep bridge walls to be at least same at material thickens though in many cases it can be smaller. For example if we would cut artwork above from 1/8″ (3mm) acrylic min wall thickness should be 3mm , bigger the wall more reliable it is. However if our stencil is very small day 6″ wide we can stil push bridges down to 1mm this will make stencil more fragile but its still usable. If we go less 1mm on acrylic parts will just brake.
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