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Laser Cut Logo Keychains

laser cut beaker keychain

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!

laser cut beakers

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.

laser cut logo prototypes

laser cutting prototype fails

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!

plastic thickness comparison

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…)

Comments 10

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  1. Haha, I was totally thinking about getting a laser cutter from my first pay check (there’s one called Mr. Beam on Kickstarter)! You could use it to etch or cut a design in leather/pleather or some other non fraying fabric maybe? What size does it allow you to cut?

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      It would be SO fun to have your own laser cutter! I don’t remember the exact size, but not very large – perhaps something like 12″ x 24″ ?
      Since it’s used in a science research facility, there are signs all over saying that you are only allowed to cut acrylic with it, unfortunately.

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  2. those little beakers are so cool!! :) one of the research associates here has been learning to use a 3D printer that some department bought and never uses…i keep trying to convince him to print me a really awesome pair of shoes, to really test the limits of its use. i mean, if youre going to print things to graft into people you should have your technique down to an art form, right?? ;p

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      A 3D printed pair of shoes sounds like a very worthwhile project! It seems that laser cutting and 3D printing are starting to break into the world of fashion, so it seems that the next logical step is that us DIY types learn to do those ourselves, right??

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