In a fit of optimism, I pre-ordered a Glowforge laser cutter in 2015, but it didn’t actually arrive until late 2017. I’d have been more excited about it shipping if I hadn’t been out of town for a family funeral when they delivered it. The end of 2017 was a giant mess, and I didn’t really get much use out of the Glowforge during most of 2018.

For Christmas 2018, my wife and I decided that we really wanted to try to make presents for as many people as possible, and to encourage our kids (18 and 15 at the time) to do the same. The first thing I decided to build was a laser-cut led-lit acrylic Christmas tree topper.

Christmas Star

I only made a couple of these, and I wasn’t looking to turn it into an electronics project, just a design and learning-to-work-with-acrylic project, so I ended up buying the LEDs from Amazon. I bought a pair of LED shelf lighting kits that seemed to work well enough with a small amount of dismantling. It would have been cheaper to buy some LED light strip and wire up a power supply, but it also would have been more work, and by the time I added RGB color changing and a remote it probably would have cost 2x what buying the pre-assembled kit cost.

Mind you, I probably could have bought everything for 1/3rd the price off of Aliexpress if I’d been willing to spend a few hours shopping and wait for a few weeks for parts to arrive. Maybe next year.

I ended up using 1/4" “light guide acrylic” from Inventables, but any 1/4" or 6mm acrylic would probably work just fine.

Cutting it out

If anyone’s interested, here’s my design. I’m not going to claim that it’s a great example of how to use Fusion 360–this is one of the first things that I ever created in it–but it worked well enough.

Here’s a video of the engraving process: