Vectors, Rasters, and Lasers Oh My!

Okay – so when I feel the need to be a little corny, I mess with my titles.. I know, weird sense of humor. This week was our final week in the FabLab, and I can honestly say that I’ve learned an immense amount about making things.

This week, we learned how to vector (cut) and raster (etch) with the help of some vector software and powerful lasers. I chose to etch a design onto a pocket-sized notebook (look at my Twitter to see a picture). The process was very straightforward and fairly quick.

The first step was to find either a silhouette or a vectored image from google. These images are very flat and are mathematically produced; this is very important for the next step.

Second, we imported the image into inkscape in order to trace and vectorize the image in order for the laser to be able to “print” it. Bitmap images shouldn’t be used because the laser can pick up on each individual pixel and make the image blurry.

Third, turn the file into a pdf and send it to the laser!

The most difficult part of this way of making things was using the inkscape program. I’m very familiar and comfortable with Adobe Illustrator, so having to relearn a different layout with different tools in order to complete the same actions, was quite frustrating.

Overall, it was really cool that we learned how to vector and raster; I can see myself coming back in the future in order to make some really cool things. However, I was a little disappointed because it was the least hands-on station that we have done.

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