Tonight I had a really good session printing my first laser cut acrylic plate. I used Akua Intaglio Carbon Black ink on damp Rising Stonehenge ripped to 32″ x 36″. The acrylic plate worked much better than the FPVC plates I was using before, but I did have to take care with the baren because the cut edges are hard and sharp and could potentially tear the paper.
I’m trying a new approach to making giant relief plates. Instead of cutting FPVC by hand with a jig saw, rotary tool, and file, I am using a laser cutter to burn a plate from a sheet of clear acrylic. Goodbye dust and noise and goggles and respirators. Hello fire!
Laser cutters are huge and very expensive. Fortunately Metrix Create: Space in Seattle has one available for hire at really reasonable rates. They charge by the minute, with rates varying depending on your membership level. My 24″ x 30″ plate had about 700″ of cuts and we were cutting at about 10mm/s, so the whole job took about 30 minutes. From reading the laser manufacturer’s documentation, it appears that it can cut my 3/32″ acrylic at 40mm/s which would reduce the cutting time and the cost dramatically.
Today I cut the plate and glued the pieces together. If all goes well I am hoping to pull a print tomorrow!