Laser Cutting Faster Than 3D Printing?

Our second week at the FabLab consisted of more technical training. My group moved to the laser cutting workshop. Overall, this week’s workshop wasn’t bad! We learned how to create a box and design each phase of the box. The purpose of this box is to house the Arduino and the LEDs that we made during our soldering workshop. I had no experience using Inkscape or laser cutting. Designing the box wasn’t terribly difficult. This website creates a laser cut ready box. All one has to do is give it dimensions. Once the website generated the PDF, we imported the file into Inkscape. Once that is set, we start importing silhouettes and design the box with whatever we want on it. Here’s a picture of the design in Inkscape.

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Here’s a GIF of the laser engraver doing its job!

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I don’t know about you guys, but watching the laser cutter cut through the wood is extremely satisfying. Just take a look!

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Here’s a final look at the box before and after it’s fully assembled (without the Arduino or LEDs).

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I’m excited for tomorrow’s last session at the FabLab! My group will be learning how to program the Arduino to illuminate a certain LED depending on how bright it is. I can already see how we can implement soldering and using the laser cutter for our final project. Our team can save a lot of time by laser cutting boxed versus 3D printing them. My box took roughly 20 minutes, which is significantly better than the 3D printing time. Extremely excited to start designing our “smart” lightswitch.

7 thoughts on “Laser Cutting Faster Than 3D Printing?

  1. Hi Jorge,

    I really like the GIFs that you have uploaded. They are really fun to watch and gives you an idea of how the laser cutter works. I totally agree with you when you said that it is satisfying to watch it cut through the wood. It is like one of those videos that are very popular on the web that pleases you even though they are nothing but people playing with different slimy materials.

  2. Hey Jorge,
    I really like your designs! I enjoyed your images and videos of the laser cutting and every time I watch something similar, it’s always so interesting. Out of all the workshops we did, I think this one for laser cutting was one that I really liked because of the familiarity as well as the design aspect that it provides.

  3. Hi Jorge,

    I thought the laser cutting was very interesting as well. Personally I found that this was the most challenging station in terms of actually putting the box together. It seemed much more difficult to get my Arsduino system set up and have t all glued together. Not sure if anyone else ran into this issue.

  4. Hey Jorge,

    I think you do an excellent job here with your post. I can definitely agree that it was unbelievable that our prints were able to be laser cut and engraved in less than 20 minutes. Mine only took 13! This truly demonstrates the unbelievable power of the digital world. I really enjoyed the designs you put on your boxes as well! While I didn’t quite get to make it to the Barcelona stadium I made it to the Real Madrid stadium when I was abroad. I also put the employer that I am working for post-graduation on my box! So now that we have completed all three session what would you say was your favorite? I personally loved the coding section the most.

  5. Hi Jorge,

    I also thought designing our boxes was a fun step in making the blinker box. Like you, it was also my first time working with a laser engraver and designing in Inkscape. I was surprised how quickly the laser engraver works, and definitely agree that it may be more time efficient to use instead of 3D Printing, depending on the application. Did you have any trouble working with your designs? I thought it was a fun time playing around with different design options, some of our classmates are so creative!

  6. Your post is very well laid out and I love the box design, viva Barcelona! The GIF of the laser cutting is very cool and I as a part of your team I can see the potential of possibly using laser cutters to make the housing for our “smart” light switch. I am curious if this laser cutting mechanism would be effective in cutting plastic materials without causing damage, although it seems ineffective in actually tooling parts with a curved surface and other intricate geometries. Great post and good luck for your final LED box design!

  7. Hi Jorge,
    I really enjoyed watching your images and videos you had taken throughout the process of creating the laser printed boxes. When I had read your title of your blog I was very intrigued with what you had to say and it is true that laser cutter was much more efficient than 3D printing. Furthermore, I agree that watching the laser cutting was such an incredible sight! I had just been in the group working on programming the Arduino and I can say you’ll definitely have a great time working with both the hardware and software aspects.

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