Last Wednesday I had a truly wonderful evening. I participated in a workshop ‘laser cutting’ @BUDA::lab, an open makerspace where makers, designers, students and entrepreneurs can come to create, meet, be challenged and inspire each other.  They have a large collection of machines, which you can use almost-for-free.

I registered for the workshop laser cutting as I had the idea to ‘tag’ every upcycled transport cart with a unique label. Laser cutting is a precise method of cutting a design from a given material using a CAD file to guide it. At first I wanted to make my name tag in messing or copper. But soon I learned that these materials are not fit for the BUDA::lab type of laser cutter (because of the reverberation, like a mirror: the laser beam gets counter-reflections preventing it to cut where you want it). Wood, acrylic, plastic, fabric, or many other non-metallic materials can be used, though.

Step 1: creating the design

The most difficult part was the technical drawing. Up until that evening I never used graphic software like Illustrator (tip: they told me that the open source Inkscape is actually the better bug-free version of it). But with a little help from the teachers I made a very simple, yet exactly what I needed, drawing for my name tag.

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Step 2: configure the laser cutter

I had to save the drawing as a pdf-file, open it in the laser cutter software program, adjust the type of material I used (a simple multiplex wood, provided by BUDA::lab), configure speed, power and frequency and push the ‘start’ button.

Step 3: watch the machine

The machine follows the path of the drawing strokes to cut out and engrave the wood, according to the design. It took as less as 30 seconds to do so. .

 

Although I am very proud of my (humble) result, I do realize that my little artworks are mere prototypes. I need other material than wood. From all the available options, I think I will choose acrylic plexiglass. It comes in various styles and colours and has a nice trendy twist. Bright green, perky pink or metallic copper – what do you think?

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