On this episode of The Atlanta Maker we tackle fancy acrylic for the first time to design and cut a Sweet Sixteen Cake Topper.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m getting old, and my first child is about to turn sixteen. So, why not use a $4000 machine to create something I could buy at Party City for a couple bucks?
I’ve had this Sparkly semi-transparent acrylic for way to long without using it for a project, so let’s open up Adobe Illustrator and put together a quick design for a simple cake topper.
First let’s create a bounding box to give us some size references for the design. I’m starting with an 8” x 8” square. If it comes out a solid color, just change the fill and make sure there is a stroke color.
Next lets add the Sweet Sixteen text. I chose a scripty font called Snowman, but many other fonts would also likely work.
I resized them by grabbing a corner and holding Shift while dragging so that it keeps the same aspect ratio.
Once I got the text to the approximate size necessary, I started to rotate and adjust them slightly looking for areas that could overlap.
As you can see, some of the letters are not attached to each other like the S at the beginning of each word. This can be adjusted if we first turn the text into outlines by selecting “Create Outlines” from the text menu.
Then pick UnGroup from the Object menu so that we can adjust each letter individually.
Now we can adjust each letter separately and stretch and move each one until we have a single solid cutout.
We are now ready to add the base and the stems that will go into the cake. First we need to know about how wide the object we’ve created so far is. You can do this by selecting the entire object and looking at the width properties here.
Based on that, lets create a base that is 7.5” wide by .25” high and move that into position. You may need to adjust a letter or two again depending on your design.
Now lets add stems. In this case I decided to make them .2 inches wide by 1.75” long and I moved a couple of them into position.
At this point our design is done, but we have a couple more steps to make this ready to cut on the Glowforge.
First, we need to select the entire design and combine it into a single object. We can do this using the unite button in the Pathfinder toolbox.
Then lets remove the fill color and add a .5 pt stroke to the design.
Just save it as a SVG file and it’s ready for the Glowforge.
I ordered this acrylic from Cerulean Tides and they recommended the setting of Medium Black Acrylic as a starting point. I cut a ½” test square and that worked fine so I’ll use that setting for the cake topper.
This Acrylic shipped with a plastic masking on both sides, but they also suggested removing that and masking both sides with our normal masking prior to cutting. I used my normal Vinyl Ease Transfer Tape which I put a link to in the description.
It’s a quick cut at about 4 1/2 minutes. Time to hit that flashing button!
It’s a very good idea to give the cake topper a bit of a wash with some soapy water before putting it into the cake. This not only removes any funky residue from the cutting process, but also helps remove some of the nasty lasered acrylic smell.
It turned out pretty good, but if I had to do it again, I would make the letters thicker at a few spots such as the part that crosses the T’s, but it worked fine the way it is.
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Here are a couple other videos that you might like too.
See you next time!