Category: Laser Cutter

All the Smaug related posts

Lasering in on Patrick Davies

Introduction

Patrick has been an Ace member for about 4 years. However, in that time he has quickly grown proficient with laser cutting, served on the Ace board, and has become a beloved member of the Ace community. I’m Carter Jenkins, and I had the chance to talk with Patrick about what he does and why he does it.

History with Ace

Close up of wooden dividers labeled "rock"
Some of Patrick’s dividers in a store

Patrick’s story begins after he finished school at the California College of the Arts. Having studied industrial design, he was on the lookout for a place to use the skills he’d learned. His search eventually led him to Ace, located in a neighborhood that Patrick used to live in. Patrick quickly found that Ace fostered a very creative and friendly learning environment that he enjoyed. The close proximity to his home was a boon too. Soon Patrick was working on social media outreach with fellow Ace members as well as doing his own personal laser cutting work. He even served on the Ace board for a year.

Nowadays, Patrick does a lot of laser cutting and is a part of the maintenance crew for that machine. He enjoys working on the machine and likes to see it working well. As a precision-based instrument, he likes fine-tuning the various parts of it in order to get it into tip-top shape.

Patrick’s Work

Multiple pictures of wooden, engraved disks
Examples of Patrick’s work

Over the years, Patrick has created a small business based on the laser work he does at Ace. This whole thing started back in design school when Patrick developed a liking for vinyl record collecting. He made his own plywood inserts for jukeboxes, eventually selling them to small record stores as a side business. Word of mouth spread his work, and now Patrick sells custom-made inserts and dividers to all kinds of record stores. This isn’t the only work he does, however. Even with a name in record-making, he is open to all kinds of design work. Check out his Instagram page to see his work and even get a commission at https://www.instagram.com/fluidcut/?hl=en.

Patrick’s process is simple. He works mostly with plywood to create the products he then sells. He has experimented with different kinds of materials like acrylic and solid wood, but there are a couple of reasons why he has stuck with plywood over the years. Not only are some materials not environmentally friendly, but Patrick has found that the material type he uses doesn’t always make the impact he wants. When his customers see one plywood product and one solid wood product, they don’t see the craftwork that went into making it. They see two identical things with different prices. Patrick continues to use plywood, a material that can do any job at a reasonable price.

Conclusion

This summer, Patrick is looking forward to being in a less covid-restricted environment. With no major projects in mind, he will continue to work with the laser in order to fine-tune and make more creations. After all, the more enjoyable moments of his life happen when a piece of work comes out exactly as he envisioned it.

Lead to Life: An Ace Collaboration

What is Lead to Life?

Lead to Life is an Oakland-based organization of black and queer artists, ecologists, and healers. The group is primarily focused on reversing the effects of violence against black people. They turn the metal from guns into tools that are then used to repair ecosystems, specifically in black neighborhoods.

Lead to Life’s goal is to empower racial and environmental justice through artwork. Their commitment to removing systemic oppression is done through what they call “applied alchemy,” or in other words using nature to provoke new ideas for justice. The group intends to create connections between restorative and environmental justice. The organization also aims to reconnect people to a more natural and peaceful life.

“A people’s alchemy for regeneration”

Lead to Life’s main purpose isn’t just to make gardens and have shovels with words on them (though those are both things they do). Lead to Life was created to foster peace in chaotic places, to provide a grounding factor that many people could use. It was because of this main driving force that Ace decided to collaborate with Lead to Life.

How Ace is Involved

David displaying 2 completed handles

Lead to Life and Ace Makerspace are running a joint project where Ace used its in-house tooling to create a fresh batch of shovel handles for Lead to Life. The three main people who spearheaded and worked on this collaboration were David Perry, Rachel Sadd, and Greg Habiby.

Rachel worked with the laser cutter, sanding blocks, and finishing chemicals, creating the shape of the shovel handle as well as polishing it. David was the primary user of the laser engraver that put the words into the side of each shovel handle. Greg took the role of photographer for the project, taking all the pictures that were used in this article.

Rachel answered a few questions about the project for this blog, ranging from what was challenging about the project to how being a part of this collaboration changed her.

Rachel’s Experience

Multiple shove handles stacked on each other
A selection of the finished handles

As stated, Rachel worked on laser cutting the handles and polishing them. While working with the irregularly sized wood pieces and modifying the lathe to work properly, she had time to think about what the project meant to her. Lead to Life works with organizations she has a connection with, one of them being the Segoroea Te Land Trust. Both organizations work with community gardens and building relationships with nature, which are values that Rachel holds deep in her heart. Working with Lead to Life was a form of direct action that reminded Rachel of her connection to the Oakland community.

If you want to learn more about Lead to Life, check out their website at https://www.leadtolife.org/

laser etched rubber stamps

Adventure in Rubber Stamp Making

So Ace is working on a holiday card and we need rubber stamps for some of the art. This is the tale of making rubbers stamps including all the mistakes on our 100w CO2 Laser.

Materials used

  • Scrap wood
  • Gorilla Spray Glue
  • Craft Foam
  • Art Ink pads
  • Laser Engravable Rubber Polymer, low odor, from rubber-stamp.com

The artwork

The artwork… that is the first place things went wonky but I didn’t realize it until I cut. I had forgotten that engraving needed an outer boundary in order to drop out the right stuff. Check out these screenshots. Everything black in these images will be burned away.

The thing to remember with vector laser files, LaserSoft, and rubber stamps is:

  • Mirror the art
  • Set an outer boundary for the etching
  • The outer boundary is the same as the cut line so you will need one object to be the boundary and one object on another layer to be the cut line.
laser art
In this file, I forgot to put an outer boundary for the vector etching and that means all the white bits between the pink cut line and the inner art is what will print when I stamp it. Not ideal.
Laser art
In this one most of the art is correct and all the inner graphics that are white will print. The only thing that is wonk is the white gap between the pink cut line and the etching. That is easily solved though post-laser with a pair of scissors.
bad rubber stamp
Opps… etched away the thing I wanted to stamp.
laser etched rubber stamps
The actual art I wanted to stamp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the results from the two files. As you can see the art in the first file didn’t match the intention.

Testing and getting the right settings down

The laser polymer comes with some settings but they are for much lower wattage lasers than ours.

settings from laser package

It took a bunch of test etching to get to settings that worked. I used a focus range for etching. These are the settings we finally settled on:

  • Cutting: 15/90/87
  • Etching: 150/80/78 (make sure to turn on grade engrave)

Putting it together and what I learned about glue

So I cut the outlines out of some scrap wood and used e6000 glue to attach the rubber bit. The results were… bad.

rubber-bad-glue
Hard curled up crumbling stamps.

The final product did work out well with a layer of craft foam and using gorilla spray glue.

The post-laser etching finishing and clean up

Laser etching rubber polymer is dirty. Really dirty. When the stamps come off the laser they should be soaked in the water right away for about 10 – 15 min. then scrubbed with a soft brush.

This is what a brand new filter looked like after 8.1min. of cutting and etching laser.

Dirt filter after cutting laser polymer next to new filter material.

What a difference a lens makes

So we have been. having a great time with our new 100w Baracudda Laser from Light Object. Like any laser, there are fun times to be had with focus, and so on.

We have a slight wobble at high speeds and tight art we are fighting along with just learning what is the best default configuration for a wide community of users.

Below are a few picks today that show the difference between what I am getting with different lenses. I am cutting on 1/8 inch cabinet grade Russian birch plywood.

The one on the left was cut with a 2″ lens with these settings

  • Cut: 30/55/50
  • Partial Cut 55/12/12
  • Etch: 400/30/.1

The one on the right was cut with a 2.5″ lens with these settings

  • Cut: 30/35/30
  • Partial Cut 200/12/12
  • Etch: 600/30/.1

As you can see for the partial cut and sharp detail the 2″ lens was a way better bet.

 

Oakland Pride Jewelry at the Library

We celebrated pride with some Oakland love at the Golden Gate Library!

We brought laser-cut Oakland trees and alcohol ink. Families brought their creativity and spark. Together, we made lots of rainbow-colored, Oakland-themed earrings and key rings. A wonderful way to show our Oakland Pride!

Crafty Painting Extra treas for the librarians
Trees painted with alcohol ink
Oakland pride trees coming off the laser
Pretty painted oakland pride trees

 

 

 

 

Made at AMT-June 2019

NOMCOM Fob All The Things dashboard | AMT Software • Bodie/Crafty
Hand Built Speaker | Workshop • David
Recycling Game | Workshop/Laser • Bernard M.
Solid wood credenza | Workshop | Raj J.
Tiny electronic brass jewelry | Electronics | Ray A.
RFID Mint Dispensing Box | Laser+Electronics | Crafty
Wood Signage | CNC Router | James L.
Fabric Kraken stuffed with 720 LEDs | Textiles + Electronics | Crafty