Awesome way to learn:
We regularly run an easy going workshop as an ‘introduction to Laser cutting and engraving’. From the growing numbers of enthusiastic attendees it’s apparently really sociable and a great fun, low pressure way to learn new stuff [with coffee in hand] with nice people
Science-techno babble way of learning [but still great stuff...]:
The 80 Watt CO2 lasers can cut and engrave a variety of materials. It is a precise but destructive process, so care must be taken when making a project.
We prefer to cut materials we normally stock, but we will cut custom material as well but any material that is not immediately identifiable or usual line of business will require a test cut/engrave. Materials that smell really bad but are otherwise relatively harmless will have a stink surcharge
The largest piece of material we can fit in our laser cutter is 1400mm x 900mm but please allow for a small border around your artwork so that we can situate it properly.
In order to be able to cut your artwork we’ll need a reference. We can use almost anything – from paper and pen to full digital files although our preferred and most stable file formats are EPS or DXF and JPG.
If you are working in a software that will require several conversions, it is a good idea to include a 1cmX1cm square in your drawing so that you can check for any scaling issues. Sometimes curves don’t translate properly between different formats so double check your curves.
You are always welcome to send us your file and ask us to check it to make sure that the final cut file looks like your original file. If you do that, give us a call/email to let us know. If you are physically coming to The Wellington Makerspace to get something cut -please book a time with us in advance and it is also a good idea to bring a laptop with you so that you can make modifications to your file if necessary.
Because of various inconsistencies between programs or even different versions of the same program, it is always good to save your file in a few different formats, especially if you will not have the option to work on it once at TWMS.
You can double check your design for scaling issues and other potential fit problems by printing it out on paper. We know your LCD is accurate, but you should probably always see how things look on paper before you cut your expensive materials.
We can cut
We can work with, but not cut
We cannot cut
We will not cut
$2/min+GST SELF-SERVICE [This is available to anyone who has attended our "intro to laser cutting" meetup workshop]
(or $2 /min + $23.75 setup if we do your job*) +GST
*Any job that requires extensive set up or continuous attention [e.g. standing by the machine or loading/unloading jigged parts] will be charged additionally at $95/hr + GST
**Stinky charge of $.50/min gets added on top of the discounted price if you stink out our place
***Our Setup charge is $23.75 +GST to cover jigs, material sizing and placement and disposal of remnants/scrap.
For large run production jobs we can offer discounts – please talk to us about your particular requirements.
The laser vapourises material along the line you give it. You should account for kerf (that is, the width of the cut) in your artwork. It is dependent on material. This number is the width of the cut in total; half of it will be on each side of your line. Additionally, the laser beam is slightly conical rather than a perfect cylinder, so your cut will be gently tapered (about 2°).
Kerf will vary depending on material type and thickness between .05mm and .2mm
The laser cutter can do three different types of cuts: 1) It can cut straight and curved lines. 2) It can do vector engraving, which is similar to outlining. 3) It can also do raster engraving. Raster engraving cuts away large portions of material, leaving raised and lowered areas; this is good for rubber stamps, woodblocks for printing, and edge-lit signs.
Cutting and vector engraving are both relatively fast. The rated speed for cuts depends on the material in question. Hard turns require the laser to slow down and speed up, which reduces the effective speed. Budget on 15mm-20mm/sec for cutting 3mm acrylic or 25mm/sec x 2 passes for 4mm Birch plywood.
Raster engraving takes quite a while, and raster heavy designs can take an hour or more to finish if they are large. Wide designs raster more quickly than tall designs.
With this in mind, you can minimize your cost by reducing the amount of raster engraving you do. You can reduce rasters by cutting things out instead of rastering them where possible. You can also rotate them so they align with the horizontal (long) axis of the machine.
If you want several types of cuts in your design, simply make each a different color. Also use different colors if you want different depths of etching or raster engraving. Cuts and vector engravings follow the lines in your design. Raster engravings fill an outline, so you can engrave inside of any closed curve.
If you have text in your file it will cut/etch/engrave as if each letter is outlined by a vector path. If you need single line text for clarity, minimizing cutting time, etc. you need to find a single line font or modify an existing font to make it single line.
When you get your lasercut materials back, they may be covered in char marks or dust. Several things can be done about this, depending on what material your design was cut from.
You can download ready files for laser cutting from Thingiverse
or if you’re into card/paper art, why not try cubeecraft.com