Diary of a first solo laser project

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TL;DR - Behold, my first completed laser project, a print of these interesting patterns: https://www.librarylaser.com/en/free-laser-cut-files/strips-design-139.html

In case anyone’s interested in using one of the patterns for a flexible hinge, I arranged each pattern in flexibility from bottom to top, left to right. The bottom-left doesn’t bend at all, and the top-right is the most flexible:

From start to finish

Here are my experiences going from zero to sorta-hero with the laser cutter.

Last week I completed induction on using the laser cutter, thanks to an entertaining class led by @Brendon_Hatcher, with assistance by a chap whose name I forgot. As I’d completed induction on the 3d printer as well, I was anxious to get back to the space to start practicing these skills. So I made plans to go to the space last Friday, which led me to learning about space booking.

After clicking around a bit, I found the calendar link and figured out how to use the space booking process: https://discourse.southlondonmakerspace.org/t/how-to-book-the-space-new-process-dec-2021/19085

One thing I realized is that Friday afternoons are a pretty popular time to visit the space - the laser cutter was already booked up for the afternoon by 3 different folks! So I made a reservation for the 3d printer, and resolved to come back later to try my hand at the laser cutter. Meanwhile, I had fun 3d printing out this set of 4-pieces to make a desk toy of a raccoon in a pedal bin (took just over 2-hours): https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3369061

Earlier this week I went to the calendar to book space, and noticed that hosts tend to add themselves to the calendar the day before. Since I wanted to come by Thursday, I waited until yesterday (Wednesday) to add my reservation for the laser cutter.

Finally the day of laser cutting arrived. I had my project files saved to USB, a reservation for the space, a few quid to buy a sheet of plywood, and a mild confidence that I’d be able to figure all this out. Before I headed off to the space, I had a quick peek at discourse to check if I needed to be aware of anything. Seeing this post gave me a small bit of dread that I might have a problem: Laser nozzle too tight to remove

Once I got to the space, I spent a couple of minutes reading all of the notices on the wall, and slowly getting setup step by step (keyfob activate, power on lasercutter, clean out honeycomb, clean mirror and lens, login to ruby and load my .svg file). I made a brief attempt to remove the nozzle, but to no avail.

A large piece of off-cut was left in a plastic bin which I opted to use for the project. Later I discovered that @Petra had purchased the sheet, and it had somehow been migrated into the leftover box. Financial arrangements were hastily made to resolve the situation, and I moved on.

One thing I noticed from induction and my previous visit on Friday is that a bit of tinkering is involved in configuring the cutter material specs in software to actually cut through the material, 3mm plywood in my case. And my experience was no different. Fortunately @Petra was on-hand and graciously offered some tips (many thanks!)

So there you have it, my story from start to finish on learning how to use the laser cutter and completing my first project. Next up I’ll probably look to print another pre-built model or two before I build up the courage to build something from scratch. Probably something based on one of my art interests, like an Art Nouveau piece by Alphonse Mucha or Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Until then - happy laser cutting!


Well done on your first use! Really appreciated the story. Look forward to seeing what you do next!

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Nice one. I really enjoyed the ply mishap part of the story. made me chuckle.

Also thx for sharing the designs

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My bad leaving the ply there,haha.