lasercutter

 

Following my previous tests I had designed the box to contain my book.

 

After being cut, the box was asembled using UHU glue and given a coat of black satin Plastikote spraypaint.

 

 

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Cutting in Process
Test assembly of the bottom part
Gluing the box together
Completed box
Showing the book within
Box on display within our exhibition

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Brief

I am currently working on a narrative project where I have too design a book for a personal story stemming from an act of loss, luck, risk or guilt, my own book is based on guilt.

I wanted a box with a lid in which this book was too go in and to do this I believed laser-cutting this box would allow me to create the best box with the available resources to me. It can fit the book snuggly and I can customise the visuals of the box.

At the current stage I have run tests of fitting and patterns, awaiting the next wednesday to cut out the final box design.

The wood used was 3mm Laser Plywood, 600mm x 400mm

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First Cut: Cutting out the first box edge fix
Holding the corner together
A piece to test cutting and etching the same pattern
Another cut of the corner with a pattern to be spray painted later on
All the pieces cut while I was at Makernow
Front of Photo Etchings
Back of Photo Etchings
Pieces on the cardboard after their first coat of Black Plastikote Satin spray point
Closer view of a piece (I masked half of the pieces to compare and contrast the natural wood with the paint)
The vectors I used to cut out some of the pieces

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I started out wanting to make some laser cut coasters for my Dad's birthday and the project has slowly grown to become a series of lasercut marquetry tablemats. As a first introduction to laser cutting it's been a really fun process.

I used a vector design that I had used for something previously, but the coasters at 2 layers of 4mm ply looked a bit clunky and the design was definitely too fussy for a small item.

A makernow user commented how they reminded her of Studio Job's marquetry which got me thinking how I could develop the idea.

I settled on tablemats and created the inlay effect by cutting two identical mats, but flipping the plywood over inbetween, so that I used the two different veneers of the ply. I then swapped some of the pieces over to create a contrast between the veneers (only some becasue issues with the laser cutter mean not all of them had cut out totally)

After assembling the pieces so that I had two complete mats I covered the back with woodglue and stuck to a cork sheet to give a non scratch, non slip backing. I then sanded them to a smooth finish, applied one coat of osmo wood protector and two coats of osmo clear wood oil. I chose osmo because it's foodsafe once dry and the wood protector makes it effectively waterproof and seems to have even filled in the kerf well enough that crumbs don't get stuck in the gaps.

Overall I'm really pleased with the mats and am looking forward to experimenting with more things like changing the angle of the grain and adding etched detail. 

One problem is I am limited by the veneers of ply that I can find, which is rather potluck - and the shape results in a lot of waste - will try rectangles next.

Due to catastrophic harddrive failure I have lost my file so I'm afraid I can't add it to instructables as I had planned, but hope this inspires you to use the lasercutter!

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leaf tablemat
the empty frame waiting for the contrasting pieces
inlay fitted in the workshop - waiting for finishing
my favourite thing is the line left by the kerf
finished mats
the original coaster that inspired it all
mats in a different colour ply

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This is my case design for the Lush One Modular Synth kit.(http://lushprojects.com/lushone/) the creator of the kit also designed a laser cut case (http://lushprojects.com/store/lushone/lushonebasecase) but I didn't really like having the open face on the PCB as it doesn't offer much protection. My case also improves the operation of the buttons, without the front panel they feel very flimsy as they're so tall, with my case only the tops poke through the face, holding them in place and making them feel much more reliable.

it's built out of 3mm plywood held together with PVA glue, proper wood glue would be better but PVA was all I had to hand. I decorated the outside of the box with comic panels held on with more PVA, the paper makes the box a bit stronger. The whole construction feels pretty solid despite the glue used.

I am currently using tape to hold the batteries in position in the box, this is not ideal but as I am going to build a mains power supply for it so taping the batteries is only temporary.

The construction of the case was fairly simple, After laser cutting the parts I used PVA glue to hold the body of the box together. I had originally intended to use the 4 corner pieces shown in the vector file to hold the Lush Ones PCB in the box, but when the parts had been printed the holes didn't line up, I didn't have enough time with the laser cutter to design new ones so I drilled 2 more holes and used a right angle bracket from a Mechano set to hold the lid on, I glued a nut to the back of the bracket so once the lid is on it can be bolted into place.This holds the box together suprisingly well.

I had to use a Dremel to enlarge the holes for the LED's buttons and potentiometers as in my original file I didn't leave enough clearance for them, in the vector file file I've increased the sizes of the holes but haven't had a chance to cut a new face out and test it so if anyone does build this project please leave a comment or message me to say how well it fits. I also had to enlarge the MIDI in and 3.5mm jack holes as they're alignment was wrong when I originally cut it. I have moved them slightly but recommend anyone making this case double checks the position of the holes in my vector file.

To create the vector I used a picture of the LushOne's PCB scaled to the correct size as a template for the front of the box, This made it really easy align all the holes so the case fitted. The front of the case is probably the most important part of this Instructable as you could cut it into any enclosure and just bolt the Lush One on. This means that as long as you have access to a laser cutter an effective case can be made very easily.

I built my Lush One before making the case but knew that I wanted a proper enclosure over its front, so I soldered in the LED's so they where flush with the top of the potentiometers housing. This was quite fiddly and I didn't spend enough time to get them all exactly the same height so if possible I'd recommend cutting out the face of the box and using that as a guide when soldering the LEDs.

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A MeArm robot arm built from files found here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:360108

It was fairly straight forward to build, allthough acrylic would have been a better material to use rather than plywood as the screws don't self tap very well with plywood so I had to use superglue on some fo them to hold them in.Once i've written code to control the arm i'll upload it on here.

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Trying to find a way of producing my letter formers (used in making up sign moulds) independantly, rather than relying on university or another company to laser cut my letters out, and so reducing my production costs.

I have had several differrent fonts cut now from 1.8 mm Melamine, successfully.

Sadly, after much practice, and altering the position of the wire on the hot -wire foam cutter, the letters are still not coming out perfect. There is drag on each letter which is distorting the blue foam, and melting the finner sections.

I tried reducing the thickness of the blue foam down to 20 mm and cutting two for each letter, which could then be stuck together, to get the 40 mm height that i need. Still melting and dragging...

I have put the hot-wire under more tension in the hope that it will not drag so much but it doesn't seem to make enough difference.

Thinking of cutting out the letters on an electric fret saw or scroll saw next ....even though it would be time consuming... 

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...letters/embellishments to be cut out of 1.8 mm melamine, on laser-cutter, then pinned on to 40 mm blue foam, it is then cut out using a hot-wire foam cutter.
A sheet of melamine being laser cut ...the font is Myriad Pro at 400 pt.
Once cut out, this embellishment will be stuck to the base of a sign mould ...before recycled-glass concrete is poured over ...and vibrated/teased down into the small gaps between letters and embellishments.
This is an example of a sign mould all set-up and ready to pour.

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A matte black spray painted 6mm plywood box. An acrlyic logo underlay which allows the wooden logo to be stuck on. 

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Laser cutting the logo
With lamp behind.

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As additional ranges for my jewellery final collection, I wanted to experiment with adding colour which worked perfectly on the engraved pieces, however, when I wanted to engrave and laser cut areas this became problematic as the colour would seep into all the small cut out sections making finishing the pieces really difficult.

I tried several solutions, one was to engrave, then add the colour, then laser cut which worked well once I used a datum mark to regulate positioning, however, as I had to remove the protective layer to add the colour this created a fogging mark around the cuts which if I was to polish away would start to affect the colour.

I then tried adding the colour on top of the protective layer but when this was removed it pulled some of the colour away and didn't have a professional finish.

At this stage I sought advice from Justin who recommended a large roll of tape, which I could use to create a new protective layer after adding the colour and this worked perfectly.

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Black acrylic laser engraved pieces with brass enamel paint added which works well.
Black acrylic sample which has been engraved, removed, protective cover removed, colour added and then put back into the laser cutter to cut out the rest of the pattern.
Here is the result, colour in tact, however, a slight fogging around the cut lines.
Black acrylic sample which has been engraved, removed, colour added onto the protective layer and then put back into the laser cutter to cut the rest. This didn't have a great result.
Full set laser cut only around the outer edge and all engraving done, removed, protective layer removed, colour added..
..then here I have covered the set with tape to act as a new protective layer..
..cut around the edges..
.. and placed back into the laser cutter to have all the cut areas cut out.
Here is the complete set laser cut.
Here is the small neck piece with the protective layer being removed to reveal bright red against the gloss black.. success!

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As part of my investigation I wanted to experiment with the engraving settings for the laser cutter as I wanted to see how much light was reflected in the lines of the clear acrylic and also to experiment with adding colour in the clear and black acrylic jewellery pieces so I needed to know the optimum depth for holding and securing colour.

So I decided to experiment with 5 different settings as direct comparisons:

1 = 50 Velocity / 20 Max Power

2 = 25 Velocity / 20 Max Power

3 = 25 Velocity / 30 Max Power

4 = 25 Velocity / 60 Max Power

5 = 25 Velocity / 80 Max Power

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Illustrator document opened in the ApS software. Engraved samples with 3 different colour settings assigned to engrave settings 1, 2 and 3.
Clear acrylic with protective layer - 1, 2 and 3 engraved on the laser cutter.
The same settings using black acrylic.
I did two deeper settings 4 and 5 to push the settings to the limit. These were too deep as the acrylic started to fracture and the sides of the engrave was slightly rounded due to melting.
Here are the results for the clear acrylic. 1 = default setting is a delicate engrave, 2 = allowed for slightly more light reflection and room for more colour, 3 = more light reflection still but slightly too wide for colour, 4/5 = too deep. I found that 2 was my optimum setting.
Here are the results for the black acrylic, similar to clear acrylic, I found 2 to be the optimum depth. The samples also allowed me to experiment with colour options.

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"Language does not have the ability to signify all human mental states; those suffering from anxiety or depression frequently find themselves unable to communicate such maladaptive psychological mindsets. To assist in conveying such mindsets, my major production portfolio project, Peace by Piece, delivers an alternative mode of communication to enable the self-expression of complex emotional states. Peace by Piece achieves this by providing a communicative platform which allows users to learn, realise and share a unique symbolic language which assists with realising the state of mindfulness. By combining symbols which represent various mindful components, new methods of reflective thinking can be explored and then utilised as a functional mindfulness exercise."

By using the laser cutter, clear acrylic and ply wood, I created a box container with a living hinge. Inside the container, 6 'viewfinders' were made by stacking up layers of plywood and clear acryilc. Viewfinders can contain up to 3 acrylic lenses, each with unique engraved symbols on them. LEDs were added to the box to enhance the user experience. 

www.samueltjones.com/peacebypiece

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Complete kit
Clear acrylic 'lenses' with LED lights
Overall box container
Viewfinder structure
Living hinge

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