For this assignment we are going to use
vinyl cutter and
laser cutter. Though there are plenty of other cutting techniques:
plasma, water, hot wire
By using vinyl and laser-cutter one can create e.g.: pop-up cards, origami, flexible circuits, antennas, 3d parametric assemblys, bendable 3d shapes (living hinges), mechanisms, screen-print stencils, copper for electronics.
Let’s learn how to cut!
The Work area is
1000 x 610 mm
I’ve prepared the test files (among which one was a test file from Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:728579). We would like to test the laser according to (numbers are refering to the image below):
pressfit- the assamblage where the parts are pressed into each other in a stabile way.
I’ve prepared test files in Illustrator. Important is that the cutting-lines have to be in vectors, the for engraving it can be or a bitmap or filled vector shape. The software which is “mediating” between prepared file and Trotec Software - here in FabLab Barcelona - is
Rhino. The best file format that you can save from Illustrator to Rhino is
Here the color explanation:
We are starting from opening the design in Rhino. The best is to open new file (
scale should be the same as scale as your design. In my case in both I've set up milimeters).
Good practise is to flatten your design before sendingto Job Center. To do that we are selecting the design with selection tool and in the command line on the top we are writting
We are sending the design to Print (click on the floppy disk icon or choose Print from File menu)
In the Print Window we can set up the
printing area / canvas size.
It's important that this one won't be bigger than the Trotec bed size, otherwise we won't be able to place the file on the virtual printed area in Job Control.
In this window we can also position our design on this printed area -
View and Output Scale > Set.
We should check as well is
scale is synchronised - 1:1.
Here are coming next steps of the workflow (numbers corresponding with the image):
1. Your file will be displayed in the file list. You can drag the file to the printing area
2. Snap the upper-right corner of the file to the pointer. Pointer represents position of the laser on the bed.
Settings > Material Template Setup). It’s important to set up in your design different colors for different ways of cutting.
Job Controlcan assign different values of power and speed for each color.
IMPORTANT: before starting the process of cutting set up the machine!
Tipp: there is a possibility of optimising the way how your laser is cutting the design. Go to
top menu > plate > vector ordering
Setting up the machine before starting the cutting process
Turn on the vacuum for the machine
Put your material on the bed
Focus the lense by use of this tool
- remember about ventilation and air flow when cutting, don’t open the machine up to 2 minutes after cutting (especially plastic materials)
- don’t live the laser alone!
- don’t cut any reflective materials (like metal, aluminium)
- clean the lense
We”ve done several tests with different materials (cardboard,plywood, acrylics). We were mostly focusing on cardboard and on search for the right kerf, since we are going to use this material for creating pressfit construction kit.
Here some photos of results:
For cardboard 4mm best results one can get with this values:
For harder materials one should increase the power value. For plywood to 45 and to 50 for acrylics.
Finding the right kerf
We’ve made a test with different widths of sloths for press-fit kit for 4mm thick cardboard. At the end the one with width 3.75 worked out the best. This one I will use for my cut-outs.
kerf - the amount of subtructed material e.g burnt out by laser. The size after cutting would be a bit bigger than the designed one.
Designing Press fit construction kit in Fusion 360
I’ve attended the introduction Fusion 360 workshop with Ferdi, and managed to build my own parametric lego-brick. It’s afirst time that I’ve created sth parametric! It’s a great and powerful feature ifyou work with materials which parameters are varying (e.g differnt thickesses, different amount of sloths etc.)
Here link to tutorial for refreshing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d2p6RXOMtA)
Important things that I’ve learnt about Fusion and parametric option:
modeare you (gray field “Model”). Here you can change the mode from Model to e.g. Cam or Drawing 2D.
Design Historyis storing all the steps thay you’ve made during designing process. It includes creating the objects as well as applying the features. You can always go back and edit the future by doble-clicking on the thumbnail.
Modifymenu you can find important feature
Change Parametersfor parametrising your design.
You always start from ceating a 2D sketch, onwhich later you are going to apply features. For each part of the design you are going to create new sketch. On the sketch level the layout will slightely change:
add a new sketchand enter the sketch mode
exit the sketch mode
Constrains panel- you can apply constrains (e.g parallel, colinear, symmetrical) to your sketch
Here some important steps in creating my parametric construction-kit:
- Modify - Change Parameter
Extrudeand apply parameter of material
Circular Patternto multiply and distribute the elemnts around the previousely made
Axis Through Cilinderconstrain.
Drawing. Right click on the component and
create drawing. Than set up the view in drawing file. The best practice while preparing files forlasercutter is to save in pdf, open in illustrator, check and save as dxf.
type-planar(plane to plane)
axis through cilinder(since the element is cylindrical), this give as axis around which we can build the circular pattern (from second component)
ground- it will fix the comp. in place
Last stepis to send .dxf file to lasercutter, set it up and get this:
Vinyl cutter is great for cutting stickers, designs for heat-pressing on textiles, andother materials which are not suitable for e.g. laser like reflective materials or materials emitting toxic vapors after burning.
In our lab we are using Roland GS-24 vinyl cutter
Cutting length: 25 m (max)
Cutting width: 50-700 mm
Cutting force: 30 to 250gf
Materials suitable for the machine: Vinyl, Flexible Copper Paper, Cloth, plastic sheets and other materials
The software operating the our vinyl cutter is called CutStudio.
Setting up the machine:
Menu > Unsetup > choose one of options below:
- piece (machine will measure the sheet and set up the artboard in CutStudio)
- roll (when you have a roll, machine will measure the width)
- edge (leaves the knife in the right-down edge of the piece)
Im choosing the piece, and make a test cut to see if it’s enough deep (long clickon
Test button). If the test is not satysfing you can adjust the
Pen Force atthe bottom of the panel, left from Power Button.
Everything works fine so I’m getting to the software part!.
For vinyl-cutting you need to design the file in vector format. I designed the lizards-pattern in Illustrator. As described in the 2D softwae section in previous assignment Computer-aided Design I was constructing the shapes by using mostly
Pen Tool. Than I’ve copied one shape and modify slightly so the lizards will look different.
I’ve also made a border around the design so the sticker is going to be cutted out from the rest of the foil sheet.
CamStudio ia pretty old programm thus do not support newer formats of the file types. If you want to import design in CatStudio make sure you’ve prepared it in
Illustrator 8 or
eps 8 file format.
File > Cutting properties > Propertieshere in Cutting Area you click
Get from machineand this is how you will get the proper format according to th size of your vinyl piece. Click ok.
File > Cutting
Success! Here photos of the test-cut and my lizards stickers.
Tipps and additional infos:
Inkscape have a plug-in
living hinge creator extension for foldable 2D: https://inkscape.org/en/~drphonon/%E2%98%85living-hinge-creator
Maker case for making boxes: http://www.makercase.com/
Fusion 360 slicer - for slicing 3D models and putting on the flat surface
there are different profiles and ways of assambling the parts
Files made during this assignment: