As part of a custom order of Ingress badges, I recently had a chance to revisit kiss cutting. I’d played with the process a few times before but not on 52lasers projects.
Kiss Cutting is one of the most popular methods for creating pressure-sensitive labels. During the kiss-cutting process, the perimeter of each label is cut by a sharp metal die or laser beam…but the cut does not penetrate the label’s backing material (liner). – Formax Printing
In this run, the client and I opted to use thin self-adhesive acrylic stickers to allow for adjustable agent levels, saving on badge reprints when agent levels change. Each badge was to receive its own accompanying sticker sheet with options for sixteen levels. Because it’d be just plain silly to have that many separate stickers to keep track of, using a kiss cut to carve stickers out on a rectangular sheet made a lot of sense.
With our 40w laser, I cut the sheets out of the LaserLights material at full power and 80% speed. The octagonal stickers themselves were kiss-cut at 35% power at full speed. It took a little nudging of the numbers to end up at that point; earlier kiss cutting attempts weren’t cutting all the way through the adhesive transfer paper but they were still scoring it enough to make removing stickers tricky.
While the stickers turned out great and will perform their function admirably, the aesthetic clash between silver foil/black stickers on fluorescent transparent green acrylic is stronger than we’d like, so future runs are likely to utilize a different adjustable level solution.
I can’t believe how long it took me to realize how awesome fluorescent materials are. I’ve cut plenty of things out of transparent acrylic, but I completely ignored its glowing sibling until a group of Ingress players asked me to make them some badges.
Have you played Ingress? If you haven’t and you’re using a somewhat recent Android phone, you should give it a shot; it’s a well-polished geolocation game that has a fairly engaging progression system ostensibly designed to get you to go out walking/biking/what-have-you. I was absorbed into this game, rarely playing anything else during my run from level 1 to level 8, and I’m not the only one. That group of Ingress players mentioned earlier is called the Chicago Enlightened, because they’re in the Chicagoland area and are a bunch of frogs.
The fluorescent acrylic just soaks up light and fires it right back at you, especially where you’ve etched or cut it, making just about any art you etch amazingly, fantastically visible. Pardon my enthusiasm; I’ve been disappointed in the past with how difficult it was to make clear, high-contrast etches on transparent acrylic in the past, and this material solves the issue with bright glowy aplomb. Like other transparent acrylic, it also cleans up very easily, without the sticky edges I’ve come to dread on most opaque acrylics. It was a joy to work with and generally a joy to photograph.
The awesome badge design seen here was provided by the group, and they’ve worked with this material before, so thankfully I didn’t have very many trial-and-error moments to deal with there. I did do some prototyping on a medallion-style badge similar to one I cut long ago, and I’ve taken some pictures of those too to show the contrast between the transparent green acrylic I typically use and the fluorescent material for this project. While the designs vary wildly—a raster etch focus on one and a vector etch focus on the other—the materials’ differing transmission of light is clear.
I think I’m going to have to revisit the tetriminos in this new material. In the meantime, I’m just thrilled that I’ll never again forget how to spell fluorescent.