I don’t know about you, but I love engraving with my laser. I just don’t like how long it takes! If I can use score instead of engrave and still achieve the desired outcome, I will. However, sometimes a score line does not look as defined. So I was excited to test out a method I had not used before – defocused score lines!
Let’s walk through what this would look like on a Glowforge. First, let’s take a look at the Glowforge dashboard. At the bottom of the settings for each step, you can direct the Glowforge to use either auto or manual focus height. With auto focus height, the Glowforge automatically determines what the focus height should be and uses that to perform the action needed. In this case, for the score line. Score lines are pretty thin. The laser is focused in so very precisely. With just a few changes, you can make your machine change the width of the laser where it reaches your material, to create a thicker line than a regular score line.
When I first learned about using defocused scorelines, I wondered – how much of a difference does it make? What happens if you make the focus very tiny, so essentially the laser would be at it’s focus point at the height of the honeycomb bed? What if you set it to 1/2 inch? How far from actual height of the material is needed to make a noticeable difference?
I decided to do some testing. I made two tests – one with medium maple plywood (1/8″) and one with thick clear acrylic (1/4″). The purpose of my tests were to use different manual focus heights and compare the results to see if there is a “sweet spot” and to answer the above questions. I tested focus heights ranging between .01″ to .5″.
As you can see, there is a substantial difference between the thickness of the lines. The lines on the left are thinner and more subtle, while the lines on the right are darker and more defined.
Using this method to vary the appearance of score lines can provide more control over the details in designs.
I will be doing some additional experimenting with some designs to find ways to take advantage of this. I can think of several ways this could be used. Some examples where defocused score lines might look nice are the Acrylic Writing Board or the Llama Valentine Postcard.
Have you used defocused score lines yet? What ideas do you have for using them?
What other things would you like to see posted here? Do you have specific questions you would like to investigate? Let me know!
Looking forward to next time!