fab w3 hw: laser cutting

I’ve laser cut for projects before, so for homework I wanted to run some tests on the laser cutter’s capabilities. But first…

…I needed to laser cut this for my bathroom faucets. I tried sanding the acrylic down for that frosted look, but it came out looking a little scratch-y instead.

Plus, something easy if all else fails:


… except this tiny 3×5″ template (from Thingiverse) took 10 minutes, and needed 3 passes before it actually cut through the acrylic. Luckily, I booked 3 hours on Monday (which ended up only being about 2.5 hours, since the person before me was struggling), so I had plenty of time to play around.

What I really wanted to know was how well the laser cutter would engrave raster images, because I’d only ever used vector paths. I heard that bitmap images were ideal, but wanted to see for myself. Here’s a test with both a bitmap tif and grayscale tif:

Both came out with a kind of moire pattern, but it was more pronounced in the greyscale tif (bottom). Unhappy with how faint the engraving was, I went for more passes:

Until it started to look a bit goopy…

My last test was with living hinges—I was so curious about them. Unfortunately…

This wood kept catching on fire! I adjusted the settings to prevent this, but even after a solid hour of passes, it was never able to cut through the wood (which was only 1/4″ thick).

The calendar was booked up by then, but thankfully I had booked another hour for Wednesday, since I knew I was going to need it. Of course, it ended up only being 45 minutes because the person ahead of me was struggling.

I wanted to try cutting the “live hinge” on cardboard. Sadly, halfway through the second pass, the board shifted—I’d forgotten to tape it down.

It ended up not mattering in the end, because the live hinge was totally shredded up:

But at least I have my spirograph:

Which apparently I am incapable of using…

One thought on “fab w3 hw: laser cutting

  1. Nice work, I’m so glad you experimented with many different materials and techniques.

    A few comments: Living hinges are fussy things. The material, material thickness, geometry of the cuts, and grain direction in wood all determine if a hinge will work. If you plan to make more, I’ve found natural wood (not plywood) works well.

    In acrylic, running an etch over and over can make it gummy. Try wood for a defined gray scale image.

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