Saturday, December 30, 2017

'Tis the Season...for Laser Cutting!

Inspired by the holidays I designed and created ornaments using Adobe Illustrator and the laser cutter.

This was the first project I created on my own!

Throughout the creation of these ornaments, I learned many things about the design process and the various ways in which it is possible to cut projects out with the laser. I received help from several people who each had a unique way of creating their files and preparing them to cut. Some prefer to use color mapping, a process which uses colors to tell the machine to cut or engrave using different settings in the same job. Others use the layer feature on Illustrator to engrave a layer on one job and then cut a layer on a second job. It was interesting to see how the techniques used varied by the individual.
Printing preferences menu showing the settings for a cut using coloring mapping.

While I was happy with my final products, each of the batches of ornaments I created was slightly different. I played around with the speed, power, and frequency settings on the print menu while working but I wasn't sure which factors were causing changes in my work.

This week Jenny, our colleague, Christine, and I played around with the speed setting by doing a few test cuts. We started out with a lower speed of 10. While the flames were minimal and the print came out clear, it looked a little charred (see the letter M below). We tried again with the letter C increasing the speed to 20. The result was similar. The final time we cranked up the speed to 60 and while the lettering wasn't as dark, it also didn't look burnt. Success!
Test cuts with different speeds. The S was engraved using the highest speed.
One thing is for sure, three hours on the laser printer flies by!

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