Laser cut designs are cut out of flat sheets of material, such as wood, metal, leather, acrylic, felt, rubber, and so on, using a laser beam. Some lasers are also capable of cutting details out of concave and convex surfaces, such as openings in semi-round machine parts.
What is a laser anyway? The word laser is an acronym which stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. In other words, laser beam is a highly concentrated ray of light. It can be any light, not only a visible one; there are X-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet lasers. This ray has such high energy to it, that it’s capable of cutting through a wide range of materials. The depth of cut is regulated by the power output; the width of cut is usually 0.2 mm.
We create our laser cut designs from the scratch. We start with an idea, based on which a model is often developed from a modeling media, such as my favorite polymer clay :).
How do we come up with an idea? We observe natural processes and phenomena and compare them to each other. Nature is a wonderful source of simple and ingenious designs. During these comparison, main (and most beautiful) features become obvious. Then these features are sketched down.
When models and sketches are ready, we photograph them and trace them in a vector graphic program. I prefer to use Corel DRAW, and Ken – Adobe Illustrator.
Laser cutter needs a vector image to be able to cut anything. Laser cannot see a picture (jpeg image); it needs to follow the paths set in a vector graphic. When these graphics are uploaded into the system, laser head goes over the material cutting the design out.
After designs are cut out, they need to be finished; first off, they need to be cleaned :). Laser beam burns material away, thus producing a lot of soot, as well as a strong burnt smell. Both of them need to be removed.
When designs all are cleaned, we sand them (if needed), paint and varnish them (if needed), and then I set gemstones and crystals in them and finish their construction.
Now the question is – why we started doing laser cut designs? First off, it’s the precision. Those of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of complex super-precise designs. Other materials, such as polymer, simply could not give me that degree of precision.
Next, I have a background in natural science, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. I graduated from high school with honors in chemistry and biology and received an award “For development of natural science”. I remember classmates were all shocked when they knew I became a lawyer 🙂 they all thought I’d be a scientist. That background comes in really handy when designing for lasers.
Finally, I do love computer graphics! And so does Ken. I never did vector graphics before though, so it was a real challenge to learn them within such a short time! 🙂 And it is an amazing feeling when you see a virtual design come to life; it is actually pretty cool!
And I won’t hide from you that I want you to buy our laser cut designs; I do. They are beautiful, durable, and simply hot. And that’s not my braggin’ 🙂 but the words of the customers who already bought them. We are having a 15% off sale from today (November 22) until Monday, November 26, just to honor good ol’ Thanksgiving and somewhat newer Black Friday and Cyber Monday :). So, use your chance (or use it as an excuse 🙂 ) to get something cool.
Next, I will be learning 3D modeling, so we can do 3D printed designs, because it is another awesome thing to do! 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving and have a great holiday season – in all regards!
Images courtesy of Ponoko.com (laser cutting and 3D printing services), TheFabricator.com (publication of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl.), Dr. John Runions Page (Oxford Brookes University), wikimedia.org, and Gray’s Crafts LLC.