Welcome back to another Epilog Laser project! This time around, we'll be making some non-medical-grade PPE face masks from old T-shirts. Watch the video above or read about the project below to see how you can quickly and easily cut two-layer masks from readily available fabric.Download Graphics
- T-Shirts (or other fabric)
- Epilog Laser System
We used a Mini 24 60w:
Two Layers of Light/Medium-Weight Cotton
Vector - Speed: 75% // Power: 35% // Frequency: 2500
One Layer of Light/Medium-Weight Cotton
Vector - Speed: 75% // Power: 25% // Frequency: 2500
We’ll be using an Epilog Mini 24 today, but this project can be done with any of our machines.
Old T-shirts are usually readily available and inexpensive materials, so they’re a great option for making non-medical-grade masks for you to use right now.
There are two main ways you can handle putting your material into the laser machine.
Directly Laser-Cutting T-Shirts
One method is to simply place the shirt directly into your machine’s work area. There are two things to consider when doing this.
First, you need to make sure the laser head has the proper clearance to move around the machine without catching on the material, so you’ll want to make sure the shirt doesn’t bunch up in any areas. You can check the clearance on the Mini 24 by pressing the X/Y Off button and selecting Go to confirm, then manually moving the laser head around.
The second thing to keep in mind is you’ll want your material to be as flat as possible so you end up with consistent cuts. We’ll be cutting through two layers of shirt material, but we want to make sure there are no folds or bunches that will take the surface of the material out of focus with the laser.
Be sure your laser is focused to the surface of the material, then head over to Adobe Illustrator with the graphics file.
We have this project file available for you in multiple formats, so be sure to check out the download folder to find the one(s) that you prefer.
We’ll print over to the Epilog engraver, making sure our media size matches our laser's work area.
Then within the Epilog Dashboard we'll configure our print settings.
The speed and power you use here will depend slightly on the thickness of your T-shirt material. We’re working with thin and medium-weight cottons, and we found that for two layers a Speed of 75% and a Power of 35% worked quite well with a Frequency of 2500.
If you end up needing to only cut through one layer, knock that Power setting down to 25% and you should be good to go.
Now that we have the settings configured, we can print to the machine.
One more thing to consider, since we’re potentially working with some irregularly shaped materials, is to make sure the graphic is placed properly and will fit within the material. One way to do this is to press the Pointer button on the Mini's control panel to turn on the Red Dot Pointer.
Then with the machine’s lid open, run the job and watch the red dot to see where the laser will cut. If the laser goes off of the material, you’ll want to go back into your graphics software and adjust the placement accordingly.
Once you are confident with the placement of the graphic, press the Go button to run the job.
The laser makes quick work of the T-shirt and within about 30-40 seconds you have yourself a pair of masks.
Prepping T-Shirts by Hand-Cutting Before the Laser
Now, the second option for handling the material, which takes a little more time upfront but may reduce some work at the laser, is to cut up your t-shirts beforehand. With a medium or large shirt, you should be able to get three to four nice rectangles of material, depending on the size of the shirt’s neckline.
Using this method reduces the chances of bunching and folds as you prep the material in the machine, but ultimately how you handle this is up to you.
These jobs are really easy to run and you can take a whole stack of old T-shirts and create a lot of masks in fairly short order.
If you’re wondering why the masks have four holes in them, that’s because they’re designed to be folded up to provide two layers of protection, and doing so creates a slot into which you can place a folded tissue, paper towel, or other filtering material. Again, these are not medical-grade masks, and should not be used as such, but every little bit of barrier helps.
When the mask is folded over, be sure to align the holes so you end up with a pair of openings for your ears, then it’s ready to wear.
And there you have it. Super quick, easy-to-make masks from old t-shirts and an Epilog Laser. Thanks everyone, and stay healthy.