Laser Cut Acrylic Chess Board

This is a project I did in July with my friend Jake.

Cut from 5mm frosted acrylic the squares were defined by surrounding slots with radiused ends. The white squares were highlighted by etching away a layer from the acrylic.

The results I think look pretty slick, especially when you add in the slotted acrylic pieces Jake designed and brought along to the meet to be cut. (More pictures and details below)


As usual, the design was drawing in Alibre, then converted to a drawing from 3d, then to a dxf to be imported to our laser cutter. Due to the design we fancied I had to draw two Alibre files. One for the cut layer and one for the etch.

Due to the size of the etch layer, the job took 2 hours and 5 minutes to run! We worked out that the laser travelled over a mile to etch the surface of all the white squares with a step size of 0.1mm. If running the job again I’d definitely scrap the etch layer and turn it into a very low power cut, with low tack paper over the acrylic. Once both cut layers were done I’d peel off the masking paper for all of the white squares, spray with frosting spray, allow to dry and then peel off the remaining paper. With that much less etching to do I should think the job would run in only 10 minutes.

Once out of the laser cutter the board needed a good blast with the air line, then a wipe down with a slosh of Isopropyl Alcohol (aka IPA, the solvent not the beer… unfortunately), which is what I always use to clean residue and marks off acrylic.

Here’s a shot of the board once cleaned, there’s a rather smart looking CNC turned aluminium queen in the top right of the photo.

Laser Cut Acrylic Chess Board

And here’s the .dxf file of the cut layer, you’re welcome to download it to cut your own so long as you’re not selling it. I can’t find the etch layer at the moment, but if you’re interested, just nag and I’ll redraw it.

  1. Way slick!

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