18. Wildcard week

Objectives of this week are:

1- To select and apply suitable materials and processes to create your project.

2- To demonstrate workflows used in the chosen process.

Process and material

For this week I have looked at different ideas in different websites of previous students about their work in Wildcard assignment. I found that most of them did the assignment with Pepakura Designer software. It was a great digital fabrication process to test and apply. However, I liked the idea of Duaa Alali and I found her idea very interesting as she was doing Laser sealed inflatable baloons.

In this week, I chose to make an inflatable baloon by using the laser-cutting machine and oven bags. The concept used here is that the heat of the laser can be capable to melt plastic and create a bond and seal it together so we can ed up with enclosed shapes OR (DIY inflatables). In this assignment, a laser heat will melt a plastic in computer designed shape to create inflatables.

The figure below shows the material I haved used to create the inflatable baloons which is acutally an oven bag! Note that many kinds of plastic should not cut or even engraved with the laser cutting machine as some of them contain chlorine which can release harmful fumes, while others may damage the machine. Therefore, I was looking for a suitable material that will not effect the machine and can be used safely. This can be achived by chosing a materail that do not contain chlorine. The best thing I found was oven safe PET plastic wrapping, so I started do testing with it.


Since this is a new material to test, the power, frequency and the speed of the laser cutting machine was unknown. Therefore, I have traied different settings to test which one is the best for cutting and sealing the material for creating the inflatable baloons. Here is the steps that I did:

1- I opened inkscape and edite the size of the working area as following

2- Then, to test different setttings (different power, frequency and speed), I decided to draw multiple circles. Each circle I will give it different RGB code. Then, in the laser cutting software I will map different settings to each color code to see which one is fit the best the desired purpose and requirments of this assignment.

3- I have started by drawing a circle.

4- Then, Shift + Ctrl + F and I changed the settings of the circle to the following

5- I copied and paste the create multiple circles

6- I gave each circle different RGB color code

7- I saved the file as PDF, and then go to print > proparties and map different settings to each color

You can see that for each RGB color code, I have changed the speed, power frequency. So, each cirle will be cut with different settings.

8- Then, I press “OK” and the file appear in task manager.

9- then, I placed the oven bag in the laser machine

10- After that, the file shows in the laser cutting machine. I closed the lid and I press “Go” to start cutting

11- This is the result.

On each circle I have write the color code of it so I know the settings applied for each circle:

12- The result with each settings applied, all the oven bag was cut and sealed off as showing below

13- When I was testing them, all were sealed but some of them were better than others. Some of them the top layer and the buttom layer were saperated so easy (but still sealed) where others was very difficuilt to be saperated which means that their were sealed better.

This was not sealed well

14- Then, I have tried another settings for sealing only without cut. Here what I have changed

And here is the result

We can see that when the speed was 95 and the power was 5, the laser cutting machine did not cut the over bag and it just seal it.

and here is the one that was not cut well

However, after testing the sealed one. I found that it has not sealed well.

Therefore, I have tried other settings around those values (speed was 95 and the power was 5).

Here is the result of those settings - one was cut and sealed while the other was sealed only


Using Inkscape software, I have drawn a simple shape which is a STAR! The star will be cut later using the laser cuttering machine to create the inflatable baloon. To that star, I have added a small rectangle so I can blow through it later on to make a volume (baloon). Here is the process of the design:

1- I have opened a new page in inkscape.

2- Then, from the left hand side menu, I have chose the star shape.

3- After that, I have created the star with the following dimensions.

4- Then, to erase some part from the shape and attach a rectangle to it. I have did the folowing:

A- Changed the object to the path.

B- Select a node and break path in the selected node.

C- Saperate the nodes to create gap.

D- Finally, draw a rectangle and connected to the shape by chosing the union option (Ctrl++).

5- After that, I have edited the settings as following.

6- I have saved the file as PDF.

Cutting process

Moving to the cutting and sealing process. Here is what I did:

1- Cut a piece of the oven bag and place it in the laser cutting machine.

2- open the PDF file and then print > proprties.

3- Set the speed, power and frequency as following.

4- The design will appear in the Epilog task manager and the name of the design will show in the screen of laser cutting machine. Press Ok and the machine will start cutting the design and due to the heat of the laser it will seal the plastic paper.

5- After tha machine finish from the cutting, take your design off.

Final result

After you take off your design, cut the blowing side (small piece from the rectangle) and start blowing in the inflatable baloon to add a volume to it. The test worked quite well and laser sealed inflatable has been created. The final result shows in the figures below:

It would be better if the size was bigger so it will look like a real-life baloon that we normally by from market. In the future, I will created large size baloons. Also, I will add glitter or small shredded colored papers inside the oven bag then cut the design to get some interesting baloons and add a touch of fun to it.


The first shape I cut was also star, but the size of it was too small which made my unable to blow in it.

Thefore, I have scaled the size up to 8 cm. However, this can be even made larger. I learnt through this experince that the inflatable baloons should be big in size for better results. Also the rectangle shape that I have connected it with the star, it was a little short. It would be better if it was little taller.