Cutting Plastic is Endless

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There's no artful way to say it, and if there were, I'm too tired to come up with it. Cutting plastic on the laser cutter takes forever. Here's the laser cutter in action on some 1/16" acrylic. This much cutting took two hours, and as you can see in the photo the plastic curled from the heat.

Sloooooow laser cutting

I spent three sessions on plastic cutting and got, well, barely anything actually done. That sucked. Of course, had I been trying to make this stuff by hand I would be nowhere near as done as I am, but that is small consolation.

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I was cutting out these pieces, which are roof trusses for my building model. The 1/16" acrylic bent while cutting and ruined the pieces. The 3/16" acrylic worked like a charm, only my job would have taken five hours and we can only sign up for two at a time at Techshop (and there were others waiting to use the cutter).

1/16 truss

This is the 3/16" job. You might be able to see there that some lines didn't get cut, because they were not the right thickness (the laser cutter slices hairlines and etches anything larger). At 3/16", the laser had to operate at 6% speed, which is slow, slow, slow. Yeah, in fact I do hear the world's tiniest violin playing for me.

3/16 end board

At any rate, that's it for this cycle on the laser cutter: We have our summer final crit on Wednesday and I doubt I will have time to make another quickie trip home for more time. Maybe next weekend, after the pressure is off.

Also, some queries about what the setup is like. Here's the laser cutting station at Techshop. Just the cutter, the computer it's attached to (the laser cutter is a printer that takes jobs from Corel Draw), and some notes and cleaning kit. I bring in my laptop to work on while jobs are cutting, because sometimes things take a really long time.

Laser cutting station

And here's the laser cutter at work. The Helix has a 24" x 18" bed, with decent registration. The bed moves up and down to accommodate a variety of materials, but the laser can only cut to about 3/8". Choice of materials is restricted because some materials release toxic gasses when burnt, while others make an unholy mess of the laser (ie, chocolate).

Laser at work


I think you're having WAAAAAY too much fun with that.

I should suppose so. It would be bad if I were hating it, given how I have to spend every spare minute working on this model for the next four months. And all.

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This page contains a single entry by Ayse published on August 12, 2007 11:04 AM.

Making Complex Models was the previous entry in this blog.

The End of Summer is the next entry in this blog.

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