Introduction to Laser Cutting

What is a Laser Cutter? A laser cutter is a rapid prototyping machine for cutting and etching precise shapes out of wood, plastic and other rigid materials. Think of it as a printer, but with more firepower!

How will this class be structured?

Begin
Introduction and outline of class
Laser cutting in practice

Design

Vector versus Raster files
Vector design software
Designing in vectors with Inkscape Illustrator
Review student designs
Review errors and ways to prevent them

Build

Laser Safety
Introduction to components of the laser cutter
Overview of materials
Preparing the machine for operation
Understanding the Morn Cam Software
Safety review
Positioning the laser and workpiece
Navigating the laser UI
Begin cutting
Post-cut cleaning
Finishing techniques for wood pieces
Conclusion and Thanks

How should students prepare?
Students must bring their own laptops pre-loaded with Inkscape. Students should create or find a design that fits within a 4 inch square that they wish to cut. The test material will be 1/8th inch birch plywood (personal materials may not be substituted for this class). No additional tools or parts will be necessary.

What will you get out of this lesson?
By the end of the class students will have a general understanding of laser cutter design and operation and the basic skills necessary to begin cutting with the machine. After completion of the class, students will be able to attend supervised hours (Fab Labs) on Sunday and Monday afternoons wherein they may ask for assistance in design and operation. Unsupervised use of the laser cutter will not be allowed initially. After students have attended multiple Fab Labs and can demonstrate full knowledge of laser safety and operation will they be reviewed to gain independent access to the machine.

Attendance is open to the general public, however only full Hacker Lab members may attend Fab Labs for future laser operation.

Teacher Bio
DJ Harrigan is an interactive artist and educator who is passionate about empowering people to unleash their creativity through electronics and rapid prototyping machinery. He works for the Hacker Lab as the chief laser operator and helps manage the makerspace.

 Space is limited to 6 students. You must sign up online to participate.

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