How to Laser Cut Acrylic Sewing Buttons (+Free File!)

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Since I got my XTool S1 laser cutter, I’ve been challenging myself to use it in multiple ways to “up” my sewing game. 

My latest sewing-themed laser project is making my own acrylic buttons. I love that I can create whatever size or shape of button to match whatever garment or project I’ve just sewn. 

While there are some limitations to cutting acrylic with certain types of lasers, this project is otherwise super fast and easy. Follow along to learn how to laser cut acrylic sewing buttons, and grab my free XCS file for the three button shapes below!

how to make acrylic buttons with a laser cutter

Supplies I Used

  1. Laser cutter: I love my XTool S1 20W!
  2. Cast acrylic sheet: 3mm masked black acrylic is what I used for this tutorial
  3. Cutting file: Grab my free zipped acrylic buttons XTool Creative Space file.
  4. Optional, but nice to have: Air Assist, honeycomb panel, and Gorilla Tape

Also, make sure you’ve safely vented your laser and follow all other safety precautions during operation. 

How to Cut Acrylic Buttons With a Laser Cutter

Diode lasers have limitations regarding the colors and types of acrylic they can cut. For instance, cutting blue, transparent (totally clear), and most translucent colored acrylics is impossible or, at least, very difficult without serious hacking and luck. CO2 lasers, on the other hand, have more acrylic options, but hobby-friendly options weren’t within my budget.

As mentioned, I used my XTool S1, a 20W laser, and its associated software, XTool Creative Space–so that’s what this tutorial is based on. However, if you have a Glowforge or other brand of laser cutter, the general steps in this tutorial will help you tailor them to your specific cutter. 

Also, if you want to add engraving to the buttons, feel free to add that in as well!

Step 1: Prepare the File

open project in XTool Creative Space

If you’ve downloaded my sewing buttons XCS file, you first need to extract the zipped file and then upload the XCS to XTool Creative Space by clicking “Open Project.”

set material to to 3mm Black Acrylic

Then, set your material. I used black acrylic, a preset material, for this test. If you use a different color or thickness of acrylic, you ‘ll want to test settings on a scrap piece before cutting. The settings for this material specifically, though, were 100% power, 4 mm/s speed, and 1 pass. 

Step 2: Load the Acrylic and Mark Distance

position acrylic and mark

Next, load the acrylic into the XTool bed on top of the honeycomb panel, if using. Then, move the laser over a portion of the acrylic. 

mark distance

Click the hashmark thingamabob on the right side of your software to mark the distance. 

Step 3: Mark and Arrange Cuts

Mark the processing area

Then, click the “Start Marking” button to mark the area in your laser bed where the acrylic is positioned. 

Click Start marking

Choose your shape (mine was rectangle here), and click “Start Marking” again. 

End marking when done

Then, click “End marking” once you’ve marked two vertices of your blank. 

position cuts in the marked area

Next, position your button cuts in the marked area. I just select all and move them that way. Also, make sure under processing type, you have “Cut” selected. 

check the framing

Before starting to laser cut the buttons, click on “Framing” to double-check that the cuts will indeed be made in the area of the acrylic in the laser bed.

Finally, shut the top of the laser, and make sure you’re following safety protocols. 

set the Air Assist for cutting acrylic

I also set up Air Assist at high speed. (I used max; for some reason, my auto speed on my Air Assist never works.) This extra air circulation in the chamber blows away smoke and debris, which makes for a cleaner cut with less warpage or melting on the acrylic’s edges. 

Step 4: Start Cutting

click to start after previewing

Once everything’s ready to go, click “Process” on the bottom right of your software screen, preview the cut lines, and click “Start” on the top right.

process shot of laser cutting

Check out this process shot!

cut acrylic sewing buttons

And here are the three buttons I cut for this tutorial!

the buttons after removing the rest of the acrylic

And with the larger section of acrylic removed, they look great! Before your next project, remember to fish out the tiny buttonhole cut-out pieces of acrylic from under the honeycomb, though. 

remove backing

Each button does have stick paper on either side, so you need to remove this after cutting. You can do it by hand, or, if you keep your nails super short like I do, use a piece of Gorilla Tape to remove each paper. 

 

And that’s it–I hope you enjoy making custom buttons with your laser cutter! There are all sorts of types of sewing buttons that I’m dreaming of cutting, especially since my daughters LOVE funky designs and shapes. 

If you want to see more things lasers can do, check out my DIY laser engraved sewing scissors tutorial and laser-cut engraved wood buttons tutorial!

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