Dr. V.'s LASER Cutting ExperimentsLast update: 2015-10-11

Getting the Hang of Things2015-10-9

Thanks to the generosity of my colleague Daniel Ashbrook I now have access to his lab's LASER cutter. I spent a good part of today getting comfortable with operating it and experimenting with various settings and materials. This page is an attempt to keep track of, and share information on successes, so as to make them repeatable. The project I am currently working on is development of smart phone-based Virtual Reality headsets.

I worked with two materials today; cardboard and plywood. The specs for each are as follows:

Cardboard

Settings
Power Speed PPIZ-Axis
Vector
(Cutting)
100% 65% 3000.188"
Raster
(Etching)
60% 100% 5000.188"

Plywood

Settings
Power Speed PPI Z-Axis
Vector
(Cutting)
100% 7.5% 300 0.200"
Raster
(Etching)
85% 100% 500 0.200"
Vector
(Etching)
100% 75% 500 0.188"

Adobe Illustrator Layers 2015-10-11

Something I've not seen mentioned in the context of laser cutting is the use of Adobe Illustrator's layers, so I thought I'd mention my approach here.

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I set my document size to the laser cutter's bed size (18" x 32") but then I create a layer onto which I draw a filled rectangle the size of my stock - in this case a 15.5" x 24" piece of plywood. That way when I'm laying out the parts it's easy to see if they fit.


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For this design I created a layer for "guides" (the lines I drew in blue) to assist me in positioning the cuts. I also put the text labels (to be engraved) on a separate layer. My strokes are set at 1 point in this image (and when I work) so that they are clearly visible. Set them all to 0.001" before cutting.


Before cutting, simply click the eyeball icon on those layers you do not want cut or etched to hide them before printing to the laser cutter.

Bendy Board 2015-10-11

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Figured I'd upload an Adobe Illustrator File with my "bendy board" aka "living hinge" plan.

I had some space in my first test cut file and was curious about making plywood flexible, having seen some examples, so I quickly drew the pattern which resulted in the board you see to the right. I simply came up with a pattern that I could repeat as many times as I wanted and had at it.

I've done this with a hand saw on moldings before, as I have an antique house with some curved walls. Considerably easier with a laser cutter, I must say.