Laser cutting workshop

I haven’t decided on final design of the face but I have made more drawings and i feel that i need more experimentations regarding my design. I decided to make one test design which i wanted to cut out using a laser and get to know more laser cutting possibilities and hopefully that would lead me to my final piece knowing what i can achieve with this wonderful technique. I went back to my original drawings and created new model in illustrator. I still don’t know what material i will use for the final piece whether it will be a cardboard, wood or acrylics, i was expecting that Edward from workshop will give me a rough idea what materials go under laser beam and how wide is my field of experimentation.

I managed to look at the wide range of materials which can be treated by laser, some of them are made out of 2D images while others can be modelled in different 3D softwares such as Rhino, Maya and even Google SketchUp. The materials include: leather, resin, cardboard, thin wood, thick wood, fiberboard, acrylic and many more. You can do two things with laser: cut and engrave. Engraving can be done is different colours and will evaporate only a thin layer of the material and can be used to produce stunning effect. Here are some examples laying around in the workshop:

All these examples gave me the material knowledge and some new inspirational ideas. At the moment I have a very simple basic shape but I can definitely expand it into more complex shape after this session.

I arrived at the workshop without material and to accomplish my project I was given some left over cardboard just to get started and learn basic steps how to operate laser machine. I would like to reflect on the whole progress step by step i went through from the sketch to the final piece.

1) I picked a drawing which i will turn into vector shape. I decided to work on this one:

2) I imported it into Illustrator and using a Pen tool traced it and created a black and white image. I did some alterations and experimented little bit with the design:

3) I was asked prior starting laser tutorial to upload my design onto SkyDrive storage provided by AUCB. When we opened my file in the classroom it was obvious it had a slight issue. It is a requirement to make sure pieces which laser is supposed to cut out are outlined in blue path line, and it should be one continuous path which laser follows in process of cutting. My teacher Edward had to spend some time correcting my piece and here is the final file we fed to laser printer:

4) Before pressing “Play” button which instantiates laser we had to go through some setting parameters and ensure we set laser job appropriate. Firstly we had to make sure the file is in RGB, and Blue channel is set to max, also the thickness of the stroke must be 0.01mm. We also had to select the power laser will use to cut and the speed. There is a special sheet dedicated to explain these two important elements depending on the kind of material. If i use a cardboard material it suggests to use 50 of laser power and speed number is 2. It is also important to align material in laser cutting machine and measure the distance between laser head and surface of the material. We used this specially designed little plastic tool to measure the distance:

5 ) When distance is measured i have to align paper edge to the laser tracking line, i can do it by positioning laser beam strictly on top left corner and then using a control button guide laser head all the way to the right till it reaches papers edge:

if paper is little bit askew, i have to press the top left corner down with one finger and adjust top right corner directly on lasers track line. Then last part is to connect computer to the laser by pressing a special button and then laser beam head will be automatically synchronised on computer screen. I just have to snap the printing file to this beam indicator and start curving the shape on the laser:

[vimeo 31101904]

Here is my happily cut out (et little bit chargrilled) pieces of the face.P


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