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How to Etch Acetate Sheets with Silhouette CAMEO (Plus Best Cut Settings)

If you're looking to add something a little extra - yet - subtle to your next Silhouette project you may want to try out etching acetate sheets.

silhouette 101, silhouette america 101, cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate

I love etching acetate to use for framed picture overlays, invitations, cards or other Silhouette paper projects.

Etching on acetate can be done on any of the Silhouette machines that can use the Silhouette Etching Tool or the Amy Chomas Etching and Engraving tip.  I had the best results using the Silhouette Etching tip and Cricut brand acetate sheets.

Start in Silhouette Studio by opening your design or typing out text. I am using this round memory design from one of my favorite SVG and font designers - Kitaleigh.  She has a bunch of different handwritten round SVG mini bundles and they've all been extremely popular on our sister site So Fontsy.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, svg design

How to Get a Solid Etch Fill with Silhouette CAMEO

Fill the design or text with a sketch fill using the Sketch Fill options available with Silhouette Studio Designer Edition or higher.

I would recommend you add the solid line Edge Effect and the hashed Sketch Fill with a very small spacing. You are trying to achieve a solid fill by making the lines extremely close together.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, acetate sheets

Personally I like to etch "from the back" so the front of my acetate sheet remains smooth - but that's totally a personal preference. If you want to do this, mirror your design by right clicking > Flip Horizontally.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, acetate sheets

Move to the Send panel and select your machine from the machine list. The machine must be powered on and connected first for the software to find it.  The CAMEO 4 has trouble with etching right now because there is not a tool for it. But you can etch with Silhouette CAMEO 3, 2, 1 and Portrait machines.

Silhouette Etching Tool Settings for Best Etch on CAMEO

You'll need to workaround the software limitation that does not allow you to pick 'sketch' on the Acetate Sheets material setting.  Instead, pick Clear Sticker Paper as the material.

Change the action to 'sketch'. The tool will automatically update to pen.  The best cut settings for etching on Acetate with Silhouette are a force of 18 and a speed of 10 with a single pass.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, sketch

Before you begin etching, prep your machine and cutting mat.  The Cricut Acetate sheets have a clear liner on both sides so you'll want to remove that before placing the sheet on a strong grip cutting mat.

Best Silhouette Etching Tool

Place the Silhouette Etching Tool (right) into the left carriage of your machine and lock it in place.  You can also use the WRMK Etching Quill (left) or the Amy Chomas Etching tip (center). In the comparison below I used the same settings for all of the tips. I would recommend increasing the force if you are using the Chomas tip.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, sketch

It will likely be difficult to see the etching while the acetate is on the cutting mat.

Once the etching is finished you can remove the sheet and you'll be able to see it.  

By the way, acetate sheets can be cut with the Silhouette  2mm Kraft Blade on a blade of 20, force 33, and 4 passes - if you are also looking to cut the sheet.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, 2mm kraft blade

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, 2mm kraft blade

You'll notice the side that's etched is a little 'rough' which is why I like to etch on the 'back' since it's very easy to see the etch from either side of the clear acetate sheet.

Now you can slide the etched acetate sheet in front of a photo in a frame or use it in some other way.

cameo 4, cameo 3, acetate, etching, acetate sheet

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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  1. Please, what are the best settings for etching acrylic blanks...especially with the etch quill. I use a cameo 3. Thank you so much! X

  2. I followed your link for the Silhouette etching tool and it led me to the stippling tool which is only for the Curio. Is this the right tool? Also, how else might the sheets be cut down to size? Will the 3 mm Kraft blade work with the Cameo 4? I also have a Cameo 2.

  3. I have never seen an etching tool for Cameo except the one that says its for the Curio. Does this one fit into the Cameo too? I have the Chomas etching tool for the Cameo 4 and it does Acrylic blanks but I have never tried it with acetate or vellum.

  4. Well I ordered the tool and I bought the acetate sheets. I followed all the directions and all the settings and it did not work for me. I just ended up with a hot mess. Sorry! I really wanted this to work.


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