Creating with light beams

Update to a post I made back in October 2015! So yeah. My husband and I decided to invest in the new Glowforge laser, as part of the highly discounted crowdfunding campaign. We knew it wasn’t ready to ship, but decided that it was worth waiting for (a) because of the features, and (b) because decent lasers were mostly waaaay out of our budget, and (c) we were in the process of moving to France and didn’t know when we’d have a place for it anyway. Then as the months rolled by, the company discovered that they weren’t as far along with the development as they thought either. Cue lots of projected finish dates that were missed, I think at least three major ones. Finally though, last fall they started shipping production machines, first to US backers, then to international backers.

We got ours (in France) a month ago, well over two years after we purchased. Can I just say, that it is great to *finally* have the machine, and to have it work so amazingly well (as was promised all along)? Behold!

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YInitial setup…it liiiiives!

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YIt is WAY BIGGER in person that you think from pictures. Even though I knew the specs I was a little shocked. Notice too our window venting setup. Our windows are a meter and a half tall, and open inward. The simple venting setup that most of the US users are able to do was not possible here, which is part of why we haven’t used the machine as much as we wanted to since getting it – it took us a while to figure out a solution.


First test! I took a rubber stamp I had carved, made an impression on a piece of paper, stuck it in the laser bed, took a scan with the camera in the laser’s lid, and then etched it in some of the wood called ‘Proofgrade™’ that the Glowforge company developed. Seriously, it’s amazing. It is pre-finished, has a mask laser so the soot and overburn from the heat of the laser don’t mar the surface (you peel it off after) and has a barcode that the machine recognizes so you don’t even have to input any settings, if you don’t want to. SO SIMPLE. They don’t have a distribution center of Proofgrade in Europe yet, but they’re working on it. I can’t wait! But really…other than needing a computer connected to wifi to hit ‘print’…I didn’t need any kind of design software to do this test. Pretty wild.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YDid an experiment with cork to see how it worked. I colored it with sharpies afterward. Ikea placemats ftw! Which I just noticed they aren’t selling anymore. Blast.

I made a memory game of letter characters from scripts around the world. The cards turned out so well! Because I could, I picked characters that made specific sounds, to spell out the names of everyone in my family. The name of each script is on the bottom left, and the sound the letter makes is on the bottom right.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YBut one of the coolest things about this machine is that you can make more than just pretty things, you can make FUNCTIONAL things. Like this ‘stopgap’ for the dumb hole between the table and my son’s high chair. He’s still working on picking up foods, and squishy/slimy ones are particularly difficult…and nearly always ended up on the floor from going through this hole. I’m not patient enough of an engineer to get everything perfect the first time, but several iterations with cardboard later, I found a solution that works and better yet is easy to clean! And so far my son hasn’t figured out how to take it off, ha.

SO: my recommendation? If you have enough funds for it, GET IT. If you’re a hobbyist, an artist, a tinkerer, retired, have a small creative business, this is a great tool. If you’re an inventor it’s great too. If you want to make thousands of one thing to sell, you’d probably be better off elsewhere. One thing I do have to also promote is the Glowforge community on the forum. I was a pretty involved member for the first two years (basically until my son was born, after which I had no energy and/or brain cells left for anything else) and it is a great place to learn and ask questions and have silly conversations. I know for certain that it’s the only reason quite a few people were able to stick out the long wait!

USE MY REFERRAL CODE
: for a Pro to get $500 off, for a Plus to get $250 off, and for a Basic (which is what I have) to get $100 off. Machines are delivering now within 10 days!*

*One note for international buyers… if you’re in Europe, Switzerland, or the UK, it might take a bit longer than the continental US but you’ll get your machines fairly quickly. Those initial backers in Canada, Australia and Singapore are still waiting for the certifications to be approved, and are looking at estimated times of getting their machines in November, a full three years after they purchased. They aren’t happy. But here’s hoping the certs will come through sooner rather than later…

Advertisements

the Glowforge!

So this came to my attention rather late in the game, but if you haven’t seen this new laser cutting machine called the Glowforge, check it out!

basic_closed_side

If you have ever looked at some of my laser projects (like these coasters and earrings or this Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote book) and really wanted to have a go at something similar, this machine is perfect. (or seems to be, from all of the test videos I have watched!) It is targeted for crafters and artists and people who want to get into laser cutting but have been put off by the price or by the complicated operations of both software and hardware. It seems expensive at first glance, but if you have ever looked at other laser cutters, for what it does, it is a great price (while it is half off, at least!). It has a “real-time full 3D autofocus and a flying lens, giving the ability to actually measure the depth of the material before you engrave and cut over curved surfaces, like warped wood or a MacBook,” which is just crazy! And it uses commodity smart phone components! They have set up a system to be cloud-based, so updates and changes can be made more easily. Which is a pro and con, as you have to be connected to the internet to use the machine.

There are 4.5 days left for the pre-order price of 50% off of the retail cost! Click this referral link to get $100 off of any of the three versions. If you live in the US, it essentially means free shipping. International shipping costs are killer, believe me I know. But… your own laser cutting machine! I can’t wait to see what people do with theirs. And to play with mine! They should start shipping around December.

Some other reviews:
Going In-Depth with The Glowforge Laser Cutter by Tested
Here’s What Convinced Me to Order a $2,000 Glowforge Laser Cutter by xconomy
The new Glowforge laser cutter is amazing by boing boing

Letter Fab-ulous

Had some fun at the Tulsa Fab Lab this last week, making items to use for a fundraiser. I’m heading back to grad school to work on an MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading in the UK. Eeek, it’s expensive!

I made nearly 500 coasters (would have been more, but the laser had a temporary malfunction) out of clear acrylic and white acrylic.
letter-fab-1

They look pretty cool when stacked! There isn’t any paint on these, unlike the HitchHiker’s Guide, because if the etched image is wide enough, it stands out just fine. Though I might still add paint to a few to change the color.
letter-fab-2

Then while lasering another project onto wood, there was extra space so I shrank the coaster design down to an earring size. Waste not, want not! Can’t wait to wear them! I have eight pairs. I’m thinking about having a giveaway on this blog with a pair as the prize…
letter-fab-3

I wish I had had time to design my own ampersand, but I really like this one from Charlemagne Standard. Laser-cut out of mirrored acrylic.
letter-fab-4

Also on the mirrored acrylic, a lettered design of one of my favorite words by the amazingly talented PetitSerif. Positive and negative etches.
letter-fab-8

This was my first time to seriously use the 3D printer. These below are cookie ‘stamps’. You press them into an unbaked sugar cookie to create the design. Printed with PLA filament on a Makerbot printer.
letter-fab-5

The laser cutter and the 3D printer both can take a while to run a project. So in the meantime…I experimented with the vinyl cutter. It was my first experience ever ‘weeding’, or removing the background of one sticker before applying it to a base sticker. Super tricky and tedious, if your design is really detailed! But a really neat effect if you get it right.
letter-fab-6

So many stickers! There is much weeding in my future…
letter-fab-7

Fab Lab Fun

What happens when a type designer-artist is let loose in a fabrication lab? With a laser cutter? Well, all kinds of crazy stuff gets created!

The Fab Lab in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Oh how many more hours I could spend there!
fablab

While I was in grad school, I worked on a project I called ‘experimental graphemes‘ that I modeled after Jessica Hische’s ‘daily drop cap’. Once a day I posted an elaborately drawn letter to this blog. Since I’m still obsessed with letters (I *am* a type designer, after all) I decided to digitize the letters and etch them to small pieces of wood, roughly the size of playing cards. And I decided to use Fontlab instead of Illustrator for the letters. Which may have been a little nuts, but hey…I learned some tricks and got better at using Fontlab in general!

etched letters-1

It was so neat to watch the laser cutter do its thing. It etched the letters in a linear fashion, but none of us could figure out why it took the route it did in cutting the letters out…etched letters-2

Finished! My plan (in my free time) is to sand the letters and then color them with water colors. But there’s no telling when that will happen.etched letters-3

More Fab Lab Swag! In addition to the 26 letters etched on wood, I also etched 4 on plastic, made coasters, two ipad stands, a wooden box with a ‘living hinge’, etched two plaques and created a piece of art using recycled plexiglass circles. My friend’s comment at the end of the day was “with great planning comes lots of goodies”!
fablabswag-1

fablabswag-2