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Laser Cutting & Engraving& design in IllustratorOpen Lab @ Alumni

By the end of this workshop, you should be able to: Create or import a design in Illustrator that is suitable for laser cutting / engravingMake cut lines the correct stroke weightIncrease contrast in most images to be engraved (trial and error) Describe how to select an appropriate material for a given jobBased on safety (fumes, fire hazard)Based on capabilities of laser (thickness, hardness, reflectivity) Explain the process of finding the best settings for cutting or engraving using trial and error Enter material-specific laser settings in Illustrator List all personal safety hazards involved in using the laser cutter Locate and explain the use of the fire extinguisher Turn laser, fan, and pump on/off Focus laser Send project from Illustrator to laser cutter Clean up any detritus or sawdust inside the laser cutter Describe how to reserve the equipment and for how long Explain the Open Lab laser on-site policyYou must stay and observe the laser the entire time it is running to prevent uncontrolledfire

Overview--Design in Adobe IllustratorChoose materialSet up the laser cutter- Power on- FocusChoose & enter material-specific laser settingsSend job to laserCut & engraveClean up

Designing in Adobe Illustrator for laser-Setting up artboard sizeMust use inches as unitStroke width for cutting less than or equal to .001 inches--Importing an image---Everything thicker is engravedFor engraving- How to invert colors- How to change saturation- Engraving photographic images involves trial & errorFor cutting- How to use the Image Trace toolLayers are good for keeping yourself organizedHow to use clipping masks

Criteria for choosing materialCuttable materials:-Wood: ¼” or less in thickness- We stock different kinds of ¼” and ⅛” plywoodAcrylic: ⅜” or less in thickness- We stock ⅛” and 1/16” in several colors / opacitiesCardstockOther thin, not-so-dense things like leather, fabric, cork Engravable materials:-Most thingsHard metals can only have colored material “engraved” onto its surface

Materials safetyTHINGS THAT MUST NOT GO IN THE LASER CUTTER EVER-Anything that will produce toxic gas if lasered (PVA)Things under pressure (cannisters)Mirrors facing the laser

Modifying your design for your piece ofmaterialWhen possible, choose a piece of material that has been used already.-Position your design where there is space on the materialPlace your design near edges/corners to leave areas of reusable material

Setting up the laser cutterPower on 3 things-LaserExhaust filterAir handlerLaserFocus laserAir HandlerExhaust Filter

Material-specific cutting & engraving settings---Look up material in appendix of Epilog manual to determine settings- 50 W Epilog Zing- Baseline settings to start with - your mileage may varyEnter settings in Illustrator print dialog box- 24” x 12” bed size- “Raster” engrave- “Vector” cutIllustrator bug - click throughsettings and ok twice

Laser safety-Always watch the laser cutter during your job, especially when it is cutting.Do not leave laser running unattended.Don’t stare directly at laser for sake of your eyes.Fire- Tiny fires: don’t worry too much; this is normal. Keep an eye on it.- Small fires: open the door. Opening the door immediately stops thelaser from firing. Breeze will usually blow out the fire.- Large fires: use fire extinguisher

How to use a fire extinguisher

Sending job to laser-Hit print in IllustratorHit green button on Epilog Zing-Can rerun the same job

Cleaning up-Open door, take your product.Small scraps: throw awayLarge scraps: put back on shelf for reuseRemove cutting block and dump out bits into trash

Reserving the laser for use-http://teaching.pitt.edu/open-lab/ Start Here or Reserve EquipmentHow to estimate how much time you need

Project-In Illustrator, design a 4 in2 or less object--Make yourself a folder in Desktop/Open Lab computer file sharing/users/--Use both cutting and engravingSave your .ai file in your folderChoose your materialCut and engrave your design on your material using the laser

- Look up material in appendix of Epilog manual to determine settings - 50 W Epilog Zing - Baseline settings to start with - your mileage may vary - Enter settings in Illustrator print dialog box - 24” x 12” bed size -