natalie haddad
fab academy 2012

computer-controlled cutting

I built a laser cutter for my lab by using open source plans from . This laser cutter was built last semester and i have been wanting to explore the possibilities of how a laser could aid in changing the performance properties of a flat piece of material.

I began working with this technique as i was finishing up the laser in order to help myself better understand the machines capabilities. I cut a spiral with lines spaced 0.04" apart in order to allow for a push and a pull of material. combining the idea of a maleable surface and a hand held system, i created a hexagon shaped tube withe the surface on either end. The tube is made of acrylic and the joints lock in to tie both end surfaces together.
2d lines

Since this was not cut on a traditional laser cutter, and there is no driver for my laser yet...I created the 2d drawings in Rhino and then transfered them to .dxf and opened the file in Vectric's cut2d program. There i was able to define the laser as if it was a cutting tool, assigning a radius of .003" and then i specified the cut speed, which in this case was 20 ipm. The creator of, Bart Dring, wrote a script that will translate to mach3 G-code and digitally trigger the laser in the cut file.
grasshopper definition

Once the pieces were cut, the assembly was straight forward and i assembled it within minutes. One thing i learned was that when cutting that fine of detail with a laser on acrylic, I will remove the paper beforehand. It tends to be difficult to remove after the fact. I would also adjust the joints to allow for more of an overlap and a better holding of the pieces together.

laser cutcuttingexplode assemble
Below are images of the laser and other surfaces techniques tested.
duktalaser 2 laser

another project that was cut and assembled using the laser is below. 1/8" plywood was used and it was designed in Rhino3D.