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Experimenting with the laser cutter

February 16, 2015
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laser cutting is a simple way to fabricate objects from digital material. Most commonly used materials for laser cutting are acrylic and plywood, which both can be cut into almost any imaginable shape, but also engraved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As my first ever laser cutting experiment I wanted to try both engraving and cutting, so I ended up designing a set of coasters with graphics engraved on them. I wanted to make the coasters simple and graphic yet different from one another to see better how the engraving turns out.  The original graphics I found from the British Library’s Flickr, which is a collection of over million reusable public domain marked images.

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Laser cutter works with vector files, so I prepared an Illustrator file with the shapes I wanted to cut. The images are raster images with increased contrast for a cleaner engraving result. The overall rule is that laser cuts through everything drawn in hairlines, and everything else will be engraved; thicker lines and raster images. The engraving is deeper the darker the colour is. This is how my work file looked like:

coasters

The engraving result is surprisingly precise. I had enlarged one of the images so that its resolution was not high enough,and the pixels can actually be seen in the engraved result.

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Direct links to original images:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11148328224/in/set-72157638792012173

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11086811056/in/set-72157638792012173

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11065053975/in/set-72157642484575704

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/10997735805/in/set-72157638733975756

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11130455484/in/set-72157638906393085

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11300550403/in/set-72157648075290070

Neea Laakso
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