The Making Rooms has an Epilog Helix 24 60w CO2 Laser Cutter for high-quality engraving and cutting of wood, acrylics, plastics, stone, and much more. http://makingrooms.org/equipment/laser-cutter/
I decided to make my first visit to The Making rooms in Blackburn so that I could produce my Design of a pendant in Acrylic on a smaller scale at 10cm which is about the size the pendant would be if it had been a formed piece
. The Making Rooms is a Independent community interest company and open to the public 2 days a week where businesses, artists, inventors, students, children and just about everyone can come and use the facilities and Technology available. Its a place where creativity, technology and advanced manufacturing come together in a community facility for use to design and make anything from high-tech products and gadgets to toys, artworks, home decorations and t-shirts.
I was interested in using the Laser cutter for my work as the laser cutter is fast and accurate so can cut or engrave extremely intricate designs so it was perfect to engrave and cut out the design for a pendant. On entering the making rooms building I was met by Julia who was very welcoming and she showed me around and went through the health and safety rules and responsibilities and introduced me to the rest of the team. I had to sign and agree to share my project on a website so that others may learn from it. I went through my ideas with Julia and she was quick to set me up on a computer. The laser cutter works from Acrobat .pdf files which can be saved from any 2D vector graphics software such as Inkscape, Corel Draw, or Adobe Illustrator. Lines which require cutting (vectors) need to be 0.01mm thick and shapes that need engraving (rastering) must be bigger than 0.25mm
I needed to prepare my image on Inkscape and it was quite time consuming but I did have an intricate piece to work on and it was my first time. Julia showed me how to do colour mapping
Colour mapping is a function that maps (transforms) the colours of one (source) image to the colours of another (target) image. A colour mapping may be referred to as the algorithm that results in the mapping function or the algorithm that transforms the image colours. Colour mapping is also sometimes called colour transfer or, when grayscale images are involved, ( brightness transfer function )https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_mapping)
I had to adjust my images size in places as the pieces on the design were so intricate and fine that they would have just snapped.
When the image was ready to print it was important to select the correct details into the Laser printer.
Vectoring/cutting – I used 3mm Black, White and Clear Acrylic.. The black acrylic speed needed to be set at 25 with 100% power and 5000HZ frequency.
File-Print-Properties-‘Combined’ for Rastering and Vectoring.
Colour Mapping….Full Red=(R:255 G:0 B:0) True Blue (R:0 G:0 B:255) Speed 90, Power 20, DPI 600.
Vectoring/cutting White Acrylic and Clear Acrylic 30 speed, 100 power and 5000HZ frequency.
I had to repeat the vectoring for the clear Acrylic to cut the outline again as the first time it didn’t work and I didn’t want it to snap which it is quite easy to do with the details being so fine.
The acrylic I used were from off cuts/ scraps of materials left to use and a donation was made. I was there all day but it was so worth it and the support I got from Julia was exceptional. I am so happy with the results and will definitely be visiting again soon and i recommend it to everyone to give it a try. Visit http://blackburnisopen.co.uk/spaces/the-making-rooms/
next time I would like to see the results working with other materials such as wood or fabric. I would also like to try the 3D printer because that looks amazing.