Laser Cutting @ the FabLab

LaserCutting @ the UI FabLabThis week we met at the UIUC FabLab the third – and last time. This time, I did not print. I cut things precisely.

UI FabLab has an Epilog Mini 24 Laser Cutter. It can cut or engrave a lot of materials. Paper, Wood, Glas, … You can find the full list here. It can even engrave cylindrical elements by using a “Rotary Attachment”. Now, I’ve already mentioned the two basic purposes you can use the Epilog for. You can either cut things or just engrave on the surface. It uses a laser that makes that job pretty precise.

We started our experience by using the software InkScape. In fact, you don’t have to use that specific software, as the Epilog just needs a PDF file to start the “print”. InkScape, however, makes a quite good job in converting images that you import into Black & White (without any grey-scales). The trick to tell the Epilog when to cut and when to engrave is the thickness of a line. A thin line of 0.001 inch tells him to cut. Any other black line or object will be engraved.

I engraved an image on small paper booklet. As it was pretty easy and worked well I decided to engrave and cut a small pice of wood. However, both things will be gifts and that’s why I won’t upload pictures of them at this time.

Fab Lab – Week 3 (& Reunion)

This week we returned to the Fab Lab for our final session. I already had an idea what I was doing based on my classmates’ work in the prior weeks, so I was excited to learn the last topic. I got to try out digital embroidery!

I was excited to return to the Fab Lab this week, so I planned ahead and made a design that had some meaning behind it. So this week was especially exciting because my roommate for the last 3 years was returning from her semester abroad in London! She actually was meeting me right after class that day and planned to stay through the weekend. Here is a picture of her from the last day in London.

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Since I knew she was visiting me and it was also her birthday a few days before, I decided to make her something in class this week. After a brief introduction to the sewing machine I was using and the software, I was off to importing my design and choosing my patterns and colors. Here is the design as I was choosing the patterns and trying to pick some colors.

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Before I tried the intricate design with the lettering, I did a test run of a smaller scale version. I should note why there is a girl holding a flag…my roommate is on the Marching Illini Color Guard, and is a returning captain for the upcoming season. Anyways, here was the test run and some of the process.

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I was really excited that there was a pattern of music notes, and I loved how it looked in the background. Since the smaller scale one was quick and easy, I tried out the one with the letters added on.

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I was so happy with the results! I had a little trouble with the letters, but I didn’t have a lot of time to perfect it because I had to go meet my roommate and show her what I made! The main issue I was having besides the loose thread between the letters that I needed to cut off, was the bobbin thread got pulled through for some of the letters. So I ended up going over a few parts to correct the problem. I wanted to go over the blue letters again, but I was already running late by correcting the silver letters. But it turned out that my roommate loved it and was not expecting it at all! She wants to sew the patches onto her duffle bag for this season! Here’s a picture of us reunited.

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I had a great week in class and with her. I’m so glad I got to see her and I can’t wait to see the patch on her duffle bag. I may have requests from the rest of the team so they can have matching ones. I hope that I can return to the Fab Lab after this semester for fun projects like this.

Not another FAB Lab Post!

Tuesday April 21st was another day of class filled with new adventures into the “making things” world.  For the final session at the Urbana-Champaign Community Fab Lab, I set out on using a laser to etch the front and back covers of a notepad.  The first step to the process was getting familiar with InkScape, where the images would be laid out.  In order to produce a high quality laser etch, I used a silhouette of the Chicago skyline to start.  Our instructor for the day, Judy, walked us through how to take the image we found online, and create a path of the image used by the laser.  After creating the path, you have to delete the original image, and finalized your path for printing.  When I finalized my skyline path, I sought a better picture, and added a few special touches.  First, I took away a sailboat from the skyline silhouette, and added a yacht type looking boat (a better depiction of Chicago boating scene and a more stylish compliment to the skyscrapers).  Next, I added the sun in the upper right corner, because why not.  The final touch to the front cover of the notepad is my name in the bottom right. The final product can be seen below:

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After completing the front of the notepad, I decided to keep the Chicago theme, and added some of my favorite Chicago sports team’s logos to the back cover. Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bulls.


Here is link to a video of the laser etching the Chicago Bulls logon onto the notepad: Video

Below is a picture of the Laser Printer:


Overall, I was surprised at how well the printer was able to etch detail of the skyscrapers. I look forward to using my notepad all the time and showing off my newly acquired maker skills to all my friends!

-Mark Panno