The Laser cutter was something we were introduced to last year but to date we had little opportunity to progress further. Apparently our tutors felt the same and offered us another opportunity to get to grips with programming this unique tool in a day tutorial with Anna. The session began with a safety briefing and an overview of what was possible to create, from clear cuts to engraving.
The days tutoring also included an invitation to create our own laser cut sample and I took the opportunity to try and create a sign post for a scout campsite I manage in my spare time. The name of the campsite is LONGROVE.
To start this process I created a basic text JPG in Photoshop and used an old style font based upon an original sign design used on the campsite which I recalled seeing when I was a boy. I then imported this JPG into Adobe In Design.
Once uploaded I turned the letters of my ‘sign’ into a black outline and white interior. Using the stroke tool I then added a feint red outline to each letter just 0.0001mm wide. This red line will be the path the laser will follow to cut out the letters, the red line indicating to the laser to cut. I then saved the In Design file to a memory stick. (To engrave using the laser the letters would be shaded by another colour such as blue which the laser then recognises as a command to engrave).
Passing the saved file to Anna to fine tune and programme the laser cutter we then re-sized the letters to match the length of the 5mm thick piece of plywood I was using as my test piece. I had additionally created a small scout symbol and this was added to the end of the word LONGROVE to indicate it was a scout campsite. This prompted happy memories for Anna as she was a scout in Poland.
The wood plank was positioned into the laser cutter and then checks were made to ensure the laser remained within the boundaries of the wood during the cut. Once all the checks were completed and the depth of the wood programmed in, Anna talked me through all the details to double check that the design and sample were ready.
Turning on the extract fan and the laser, I watched as the letters and scout sign were cut from the wood. The whole process took minutes. Keeping all the cut pieces together my intention is to pin and glue the letters and scout sign onto another plank of wood, add a bevelled frame and then heavily varnish the complete piece. The finished sign will then be mounted onto the entrance gate to the site.
Letters placed on the background plank before pinning and glueing