Laser Cutting Activity
Subjects: Engineering | Level: Beginner | Product: N/A
You will be introduced to the laser cutter in Nolop and learn how to use Onshape (a laser cutting/3D printing platform). For this laser cutting challenge, we will be creating puzzles!
Your puzzle can consist of whatever shapes you’d like, but it must have a 5.5 x 4 inch base. You will be cutting 2 bases, one will have your puzzle pieces cut out of it. The other will be the base underneath your puzzle. The orientation of your puzzle does not matter.
Let’s get started!
Start by sketching a design of your puzzle on a piece of paper (keeping in mind that you must fit your puzzle in a 5.5 x 4inch rectangle. It is a good idea to start by sketching this rectangle.
When sketching your puzzle keep in mind that squiggly lines and straight lines are the most straightforward to draw in Onshape. Onshape also has many other functions and you can insert many different shapes.
If you have never used Onshape or a similar laser cutting program, it might be a good idea to stick with one of these two styles of lines.
Take a picture of your design and send it to your computer.
Suggestions to make your puzzle easier to solve!
After sketching your design, it is time to sign into Onshape. Click ‘Get Started’ and create an account.
Once you’re logged in, click ‘Create’ on the top left of the screen.
Select ‘Sketch’ and choose the front orientation. To change the view of the orientation, use the small cube in the top right corner.
Choose the front view.
Then to create the outline/base for your puzzle, start by inserting a rectangle.
To set the size of the rectangle, press the dimension icon on the toolbar.
Watch the first laser cutting tutorial video posted on Canvas to see how to start (note that in the video the puzzle is a different size then the one you will be making).
Watch the next 2 videos on Canvas to see how to import the image of your design, trace the cuts, and export the final drawing of your puzzle.
Note: Before you export your puzzle (shown in video 3), delete your uploaded image (the image that you originally traced).
The last laser cutting tutorial posted on Canvas shows how to laser cut text onto your puzzle. You can inscribe the words without cutting through the wood (this step happens once we upload our files to the computer next to the laser cutter).
Now that you have exported your design, put your document onto a flash drive and then download it to the computer located next to the laser cutting.
The rest of the instructions are also located next to the computer connected to the laser cutter! You may want to reference those as well as the following instructions.
On the computer connected to the laser cutter, download your puzzle and open it in Adobe Illustrator. (Go to file then open)
Before you open it make sure to press original size and make sure your units are in inches. You might have to enlarge your puzzle. If so, go to edit, then transform, then change the scale to a larger percentage.
Make sure to properly size you puzzle in Adobe Illustrator! It should be 5.5 x 4 - check the top right corner.
Then select your puzzle - make sure all of the lines you want cut are highlighted. Then press the small box next to stroke on the right side of the screen. Since you have highlighted the lines you want cut, you want the color of the stroke to be red (255), green(0), blue(0).
Then type 0.001 inches for the stroke size.
The lines that you want engraved and not cut, should also be 0.001 inches, but should be red (0), green (0), blue (255).
Note: If you want something etched (shallower) vs. engraved, check the instructions next to the computer for the stroke settings.
Once all of your stroke lines are correct, press print.
Note: if multiple students are printing at the same time - make sure you set this up in illustrator. Open multiple files then put them together in one Illustrator file before pressing print.
Then open up UCP (It should be on desktop) Once opened, your puzzle should automatically appear. You can drag your puzzle around to position it correctly.
Go to settings on the bottom right. For the type of material go to Natural → Woods → Medium Woods → General medium woods or Birch. Then set the thickness of the wood to 0.125 inches. And press Apply then Ok.
Now it is time to set up the laser cutter! Open up the printer and set the sheet of wood inside. We now have to make sure that the laser is the correct distance from the wood.
On the left side of the laser cutter there is a tool for measuring this. You will lower or raise the print bed according to this tool (a TA or Nolop staff member can help show you this step).
Once the laser cutter is all set up, close the lid and press the big green play button on the computer to print!
After your puzzle is cut, there will be glue for you to attach the back of your puzzle to the border!