I’m always interested in exploring more sustainable materials for making things. Awhile ago, I got a cactus leather sample kit from Desserto and, finally got around to trying it this week.
The samples range in thickness from about half a millimeter to 1.8 millimeters and, come with a different backing materials:
50% polyester / 50% cotton
65% polyester / 35% cotton
100% cotton “infused with cactus”
Some of the backing matches the material for color while others do not.
They also offer a number of different surface finishes.
The bolts are 1.4 meters wide and, run between $22 and $52 USD per meter, depending on the specific configuration.
Vaporized material seems to re-deposit as a sticky goo on the surface. Masking mostly prevents that and, the goo will wash off with some mild soap (I used a foaming hand soap) and a bit of rubbing. Isopropyl alcohol can take it off, too but, will also damage the finish noticeably in some cases.
I found the masked 1mm thick 50/50-blend-backed stuff cut at about 245 speed / 75 power on the Glowforge. I got decent (masked) engraves at 1000/51/270LPI.
Filling engraves with acrylic paint (via Posca-style pens) worked pretty well. The surface also takes paint acceptably. I bet it would screen print nicely.
I came up with a simple card case to make from one of the 10cm by 15cm samples.
I made a one-minute video summarizing all this:
As a bonus for those actually reading this post on my site, here is the pattern for the card sleeve (right-click, save link as to save the SVG).