If you have read the guide below and you need help please join us in the Open forum to answer any questions you may have about preparing your files. Feel free to listen in so you can pick up some tips from us helping others. Usual rules apply: microphones off unless you are speaking; raise your 'hand' if you want to say something. See you there!
*We are closed from the 11th December to 4th January
Complete your Laser Essentials. Without this you cannot move farward and use the machines.
Download the template file and draw what you want to cut.
Set up the Digital Machines Template file for the machine you want to use. Place each process onto the correct layer of the Template file
Book the machine you want to use. Remeber they are not all the same size and they cut different materials.
Arrive 5 minutes early, wait outside the Laser Lab. Cut you parts and take them home for assembly.
It will only take about 20 min to read through the theory and 10 min to watch the videos.
Depending on you CAD skills this could take between 30 min and a few hours. But remember you are learning to use CAD. This is foundation you will build on throughout your education and career.
This part is very quick. It shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes to come in and cut your 7's Challenge.
Laser cutters use an extremely fine beam of light at a very high temperature to burn through material. This fine beam allows you to cut at a very high level of precision and detail. Laser cutters follow the lines of your CAD drawing, cutting as they go. However, laser cutters do not only cut through material, they can also engrave text, patterns, or even Jpegs; think of it as a monochrome printer.
With the ability to use the laser cutter you will quickly be able to incorporate a level of precision and detail into your work that you would not be able to achieve by hand alone.
We have five Trotec laser cutters, they are named Mies, Jorn, Alvar, Zaha and Liz. They have important differences:
Mies, Jorn and Alvar are all 60W and can cut everything we stock within a bed size of 720mm x 430mm
Zaha and Liz are 100w and they are also bigger than the other three, their bed size is 1000mm x 610mm. Their only limitation is that they do not cut MDF.
It is important that you remember the differences between each machine.
Due to the risks involved in laser cutting, with the potential for fire or for toxic fumes to be created you can only use the materials that we stock and provide. However this is an extensive selection. From paper and card to acrylic and wood. There is a wide price range so that all your model making needs are supported. From quick sketch models made in card to more polished final models made from finer materials.
Inside the template file there is a list (in the layers) of all the materials each machine can cut.
The hazards involved with laser cutting can be great if proper safety measures are not followed, as you can see in the below image. The rules that we have set out for you to use the laser cutters have been put in place to minimise these hazards. For these hazards not to occur you must all take responsibility for following them at all times.
LASER CUTTERS START FIRES
For your Essentials you will need to draw a plaque to a very specific criteria. The outer perimeter need to be 77mm square. Inset within the perimeter are four internal squares measuring 7mm square, they are to be set in 7mm from the perimeter. You must have your name, group and date within the plaque. It must consist of separate parts, that when cut, create an architectural element.
Below is a photograph of past examples. This should give you an idea of what is expected. The laser cutter is a machine that cuts. Use it to its best advantage. You must have parts that are cut out and assembled. Not just a picture engraved.
Sketch out your idea on paper, work out how it fits together then separate it out into its individual parts. this sketch will help you draw it in Rhino.
All our digital fabrication machines are controlled by a CAD program called Rhino, if you are new to CAD we recommend doing a few tutorials first. University of Westminster give you free access to linkedin leraning which has some great resources:
linkedin learning - Rhino to become familiar with the layout and how to use the layers. (login via Westminter https://www.linkedin.com/checkpoint/enterprise/login/42314660?application=learning
Our Laser Cutters have been setup to run directly from Rhino. This makes them easy to use and more likely to produce good, predictable results. You must however use the Rhino Digital Machines Template for any use of the machines. They won't work with any other file type.
The Template file is extremely rich and includes a host of information in the 'USER GUIDE' layers. It also represents the beds' sizes of our different machines and the materials' sizes that we supply. We recommend that you:
- Always work from the latest Template file, which you can download below
- Do not change the file, apart from adding your own drawing into the appropriate layers
- Do your drafting in a separate Rhino file or whatever other software you like, and then copy/import what you want to cut into the Rhino Digital Machines Template
- If at any time your Rhino file becomes corrupted or confused, just download a fresh, up-to-date copy and start again.
- If you have any questions or want your file checking before using up your booked time, come in advance and ask a Lab Staff for help.
Once you are happy with your 7's challenge, it is all on the correct layers and you have checked for any errors (Duplicates, non-joined up curves). Complete the quiz below. Once complete you will be given a link to send your file for checking. Once checked you will be sent a link to book into the practical.
If you want to progress further please register or login first!
There are rules to booking:
There are rules to booking:
If this button is greyed out then your 7's challenge has not yet been approved. We aim to contact you with 24 hours of submitting your 7's challenge. Please be patient.
When you come in for your practical exercise you will be expected to be able to use the machine unassisted.
If you cannot complete this unassisted you will not be able to progress. Watch this videos as many times as you need to. Feel free to take notes and take them along to your practical slot.
...so you must watch these videos carefully
If you are not able to book a slot (greyed out button) and you have completed your Laser Essentials last term or earlier, please contact us at Lasers@fabricationlab.london
Materials are purchased directly in the Laser Lab when you come to cut, to check the stock please refer to the Laser Lab materials list.
Can cut almost all the material we stock except 4mm plywood.
A smaller bed size than Zaha and Liz.
The largest laser cutter we have and the most powerful.
Does not cut MDF. Takes longer to extract so the time between jobs is longer.