Computer controlled cutting

The requirement for this week's assignment was to learn to work with laser cutter and vinyl cutter. For the group assignment we had to characterize our laser cutter by making test part(s) with different cutting settings and dimensions. Moreover for the individual assignment we had to design, lasercut, and document a parametric press-fit construction kit, which could be assembled in multiple ways. At last we also had to cut something on the vinyl cutter.

Practice in laser cutting techniques

Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut or engrave material based on computer-controlled parameters. The powerful and highly accurate laser focuses on a small area of the material. The laser can laser cut through plastics, woods, rubbers, foams, papers, cloths, acrylics and fabrics. With the laser cutter you have a total control of the beam of your laser when you use it. This means that you can control the beam heat output, the intensity of the beam on your material, and the duration of your beam. There are several techniques that can be performed with a laser cutter.

  • Laser marking: involves the melting of a surface layer of a material to leave a mark behind.

  • Laser engraving: is similar to laser marking, with the difference being that the aim here is to create a deep engraved mark.

  • Laser cutting: is a process where material is cut, and this can be for small and fine materials or materials with a much greater level of thickness.

  • Laser drilling: involves the creation of popped holes or dents in a material, which is achieved by pulsing a laser beam on a particular area repeatedly..

  • Laser welding: is the process of welding materials together, whether this is one piece or multiple pieces of similar or dissimilar materials
  • Epilog Laser

    Here some basic and very important rules that you have to follow, when you use this machine:

  • Never leave the machine unattended.

  • Only cut materials that you can cut with the laser cutter. If you are not sure ask someone.

  • Never forget to turn on the air compressor/filter, otherwise you might destroy the laser. Moreover after finishing a job wait for a bit before you open the lid.

  • Make sure you know what to do in case of fire.

  • Using the laser cutter

    After we turn on the machine and the air compressor/filter, we have to set the focus and the jog. Select jog on the menu panel. Use the joystick to move the laser. To be able to see in which point the laser starts, push the (star) lightning button and a red laser pointer will show. After you moved to jog to the right position, confirm it by pushing the joystick.

    Now select focus on the menu panel. Use the joystick to move the surface. In addition use the triangle to measure the focus.

    Hang the triangle on the designated place.

    As soon as the top touches briefly the surface, confirm your settings by pushing on the joystick.

    Since everything is set you can start the job. Morover on the display you can also see the duration of the job.

    Group Assignment

    Parametric sketch

    Making a parametric sketch allows you to modificate the design easily, in case you might have to change the size of your design. It also gives the opportunity for anyone to replicate the design and use different dimensions. I decided to complete this task with Fushion 360, as I have allready worked with this software.

    First of all I started designing a simple press-fit construction to learn how to make a parametric sketch. I used the line tool to create this simple design.

    Afterwards we use the dimension tool, to be able to change to length of the lines. Now we are able to enter the defined parameter, to change the dimensions of the design.

    Select a line or two points to set the dimension.

    Now we create some parameters. Go to modify >> change paramters.

    In the window that appears you can see the parameters that you create and here you can also change them.

    To create a paratmer you have to enter a significant name and a value.

    After creating the parameter you just have to assign it to the propper line.

    I especially liked the designs Neil showed in the video conference. So I wanted to create a similar one. The parametric software was really helpfull, because you can easily adjust the design like you desire. In this way I am able to change the slots for the fitting and to adjust it for different kinds of materials.

    Vinyl Cutter

    For the vinyl cutter assignment I decided to create a simple disney image to obtain a sticker for my macbook. The material I am using has two layers one is made out of sticky vinyl and the one underneath is protection. The goal is to cut out the image by leaving the protection layer untouched. To accomplish the job, you have to download the Silhouette Portrait software.

    Using the Vinyl Cutter

    As we know the size of the sticker we want to cut out, we just cut out a piece of the material we want to use and place it on the top-right corner of the sticky pad.

    Use the second button from the top to insert the material slowly into the printer.

    To make the disney design I made three circles and later joined them.

    Now start the Silhouette Software and choose the propper printer.

    To decrease or increase the depth of the cut, you have to remove the knife tool.

    To change the value from 0 to 10 rotate the knob clockwise.

    The last steps involve removing the excess material around and inside the image. In order to transfer the sticker from the protective layer to the desired place, you can use paper tape. The tape grabs the sticker easily, so that you can stick it on a surface.

    Download the files

    click here to download the disney sticker design!
    click here to download the parametric design press fit construction!