CREATE WITH LASERS! In The IDEA LAB At Baldwin Public Library
Laser Cutters are incredibly versatile tools, and can be used in an astonishing array of projects. At THE IDEA LAB, we are excited to offer a Full Spectrum H-Series Laser Cutter with a 20" X 12" inch cutting area to our community of makers!
What is a Laser Cutter?
A laser cutter is a computer-controlled machine which uses a powerful beam of laser light to make rapid, precise cuts in non-metallic materials.
Sure, ok. That’s fine. But WHAT IS A LASER BEAM?
Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, and is a special kind of highly-focused light. Unlike the light produced by a bulb or candle, laser light is coherent and does not spread or disperse. This, combined with a series of focusing lenses, concentrates the light’s energy into a very small point (about 0.30mm), the heat upon which is sufficient to cut (or more appropriately, burn) through many materials. If you would like to know more about how laser beams are emitted, visit spaceplace.nasa.gov/laser
Ah. I see. It’s all beginning to make sense to me now. What can I do with this machine?
Any pattern or shape, no matter how intricate and complex, can be cut or etched. This provides truly endless potential for creativity.
Here are some common uses for the laser cutter: Create labels and signage Personalize your belongings with custom artwork Produce stencils and stamps for painting, quilting, or other crafts Design 3D objects which can be assembled from laser-cut parts BASICALLY ANYTHING
The limitations exist only in your imagination! And also in the types of material that can be used.
Say, that raises a good question. What types of material CAN be used? Many substances are safe for use with the laser. If you are unsure whether your material can be used, one of our Idea Lab technicians can help you to correctly identify it and determine its compatibility.
Materials for Laser Cutting
-These materials can be cut and etched by the laser. Wood (Hardwood, Plywood, MDF and other Composite/Engineered Woods) Paper Cardboard Cork Certain Plastics. (Acrylic, Lucite, Plexiglass, etc) Certain Foams
Certain types of Cloth, such as felt, hemp and cotton. Leather Magnetic Sheeting
Materials for Laser Etching
-These materials can be etched by the laser, but not cut. Glass Ceramic Coated Metals Stones/Minerals
Wow, that’s a lot of different kinds of material! Yes, it really is.
What should I make? That’s a good question, and the answer is: IT’S UP TO YOU! We provide a number of resources to help you concoct ideas and create THINGS. Our lab computers include an array of helpful design software for creating your own designs, and our Idea Lab Technicians can help you with planning, execution, and inspiration. Remember, you don’t need any special skills or training. We encourage patrons to try new things, experiment, and explore. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to make, or how to make it: we will figure it out together!
How will THE IDEA LAB help me to use this amazing laser machine? Our brilliant Idea Lab Technicians are here to provide assistance and guidance in all steps of the creative process. Any experience level is welcome, even if you haven’t any experience at all! Come to us with your ideas, and we can help you make them into actual, genuine objects! We also offer training courses to teach you how to operate the laser engraver yourself! Information on how to access the Lab and/or schedule a training course can be found at baldwinlib.org/idealab Be sure to check our website frequently! As our lab continues to grow and develop, so will the information there.
Our lab computers contain the following helpful software for designing for the laser cutter:
Vector graphics software, such as Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape We also offer the Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, etc.)
Here are some websites which may provide information and inspiration Instructables.com
The world’s foremost collection of user-submitted DIY project ideas and instructions. Thingiverse.com
A large database of free downloadable project files for 3D printers and laser cutters, designed specifically to quickly download and produce. Makezine.com
Homebase for “Make:” an organization providing professionally-curated ideas for DIY projects, and printed magazines about the same.
Laser information and instruction from the maker of our laser cutter. reddit.com/r/lasercutting/
A forum on laser cutting and engraving with a very active user base, rife with knowledge. Inkscape.org
The place to download Inkspace, a free application for creating vector graphics for use with the laser cutter.