Tag Archives: laser

Fab Lab and Laser Cutting

This week I went to the Fab Lab that we have on campus.  I never realized that this place existed, but I am so very glad that I now know of it. I plan to visit it later this week to create customized stickers for an organization that I am a part of! The FabLab is opened to the public and is a space that encourages people to be makers and try out different techniques and processes.  With the wide range of tools being offered, I worked with the universal laser system X-600.

The goal was to make a customized wooden box that would use the system mentioned above. But, first I needed to create and design the different parts of the box on a software known as Inkscape which is a free and open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator. As any new software, it took some time getting used to it, but it wasn’t too difficult! For my box, I wanted it to capture the highlights of my senior year. I also wanted to test how well the laser would would construct the details of a digital photo image that I took. I included that image on the bottom of the box for safe measures. Next, I needed to transfer the design to the laser system software, select my material as well as brighten the digital photo for better quality.  I placed the ply wood into the system and then began the laser process.  I was really impressed by how the final product came out and I am pleased with the overall quality of the shadow box.

One thing that I did noticed when the plywood was being lasered, was the small fire that emerged from time to time. I wondered if this was problematic with the system or if it is considered to be hazardous.  I found out that laser safety standards are well established and relatively harmonized internationally. And that those standards establish four broad classifications of laser safety for products. The classifications range from Class 1, in which the laser energy is fully contained within the laser system and the operator is not exposed to any laser energy, to Class 4, in which the laser system does not have containment provisions and the operator can potentially be exposed to high levels of laser energy.


Final Project

Ultimately, we have decided that for our final project we would like to incorporate 3D printing into window farms. We would like to create a window farm that uses various sensors and a micro-controller to sense its environment and adapt accordingly. After doing some more research,  we would like to work with vertical hydroponic gardening systems. These plants do not use soil to grow but rather use mineral solution nutrients. I am very exciting for our project and I am looking forward of the development of it.

That concludes my blog for this week,

Thanks for reading!



Week 8 Reflection

Week two at the UIUC FabLab was constructive and entertaining. When I arrived, I retrieved my laser cut box. The box says “The Force will be with you, always” a quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. On the bottom of the box, there’s a large Rebel logo. I was able to fasten my box together without any glue, meaning the cuts were precise enough to allow for a friction-fit. I was impressed with my craftsmanship, despite the skinny balsa-like wood.

After retrieving our boxes, we worked with Duncan to create an embroidery pattern. We used a program called PE Design that resembled Adobe Illustrator. Duncan taught us how to use the basic functions of PE Design before we got a chance to delve into our own project. Duncan helped me find a proper silhouette of an X-Wing fighter, also from the Star Wars universe. Duncan counseled me with adding an area to insert my LEDs next week. I ended up removing the front of the X-Wing’s rocket boosters, which I will replace with white or red lights on Wednesday. Duncan encouraged me to add more to my design, but I was quite content with just a simplistic X-Wing design. I explored adding an Imperial logo, but I decided it did not fit with my vision of the finished project. As much as I like my embroidery, I do not think I will end up using a box with a cloth on it for anything. I prefer ergonomics over aesthetics and I do not need the art project for anything. I’d rather use the box for storage of coins, keys, and other knick-knacks. When I return home for Spring Break, I plan on giving my box and embroidery to my little cousin, the biggest Star Wars fan I know.

Not only has laser cutting been used in industrial manufacturing, it has found a second wind in art projects. Laser cutting allows the artist to make very precise impressions that a human could not perform. I checked etsy.com to see what designs are being sold on the internet. Many of the exquisite designs can cost over a hundred dollars, but many small projects can be purchased for well under a hundred. Many artists made laser cut skylines, maps, and geometric designs. If given another opportunity to make a laser cut art project, I would likely have the skylines and maps of Chicago and Washington, D.C., my two favorite cities.