I played with lasers! It was fun! One of my girlfriends was working on prototyping a fancy tool to hold her microscopy slides and it involved getting trained on (and access to) a laser cutter and a 3-D printer. Before leaving San Francisco, I simply had to get the chance to
play on use the laser cutter myself, because, well, lasers!
I bought a sheet of pink acrylic and cut out a bunch of circles with bits of my logo on them. The laser cutter imports .ai files so it was very easy for me to create the necessary file to guide the laser cutting. The file needed to be un-filled shapes with the outline color telling the machine which order to cut. I’m not actually sure what to do with all these cut circles (other than make keychains) now that they are cut, so I welcome any ideas! I saved all the little beakers that were cut out too.
We started with a thick sheet of clear acrylic (left over from some of my friend’s prototypes) and tried both etching and cutting different bits of my logo. The yarn ball was entirely etched, which was cool, but etching takes much longer than cutting and since time on the laser cutter is rationed, I decided that it wasn’t worth it for the end result. The scissors ended up as a bit of a bust because they just look too plain after cutting. The spool of thread and needle were very challenging and required a lot of trouble-shooting as we had problems with the etching not aligning with the cutting, the thread stripes overheating and burning/melting, and otherwise just not looking that great when finished. But the beaker was an immediate win!
One technical hurdle that we had was switching from the prototype acrylic to the pink acrylic since the clear was twice as thick. All of the training and troubleshooting that my friend got was on the thicker acrylic so we might or might not have set the pink acrylic on fire before getting the lasers tuned down to the right level! (I can neither confirm nor deny such rumours)!
I found it utterly entrancing to stare at the laser cutting machine (which my friend kept reminding me NOT to do since it’s kinda like staring into the sun). It made great mechanical noises and pretty sparks and it was science and technology and crafting (oh my!)!!
Have you, dear readers, gotten the chance to
play work with laser cutters before? Do you have any fun ideas about what I could do next time I get access to the cutter? (Unfortunately, the one I can access with my friend can’t cut fabric…)