If you’ve been to our website before you know that we are the place to go to purchase personalized jewelry, accessories, housewares and stationary. The main way we personalize our products is with a laser cutter. Most peoples first reaction to that little pitch is: “WOW! SO COOL!” the second reaction is “LASERS???? WOAH FUN!” and the third reaction is “How does that work?!!”
Well today I am going to show you my process for laser cutting. As fun as it would be to have specially trained sharks with lasers attached to their heads that cut our products, unfortunately we do not! (no sharks were injured in the making of this post)
Introducing Koneko! She is a K40 100W laser cutter, with a couple of upgrades.
In order to run properly Koneko needs distilled water that is pumped into the back of her to keep the laser tube cool while she runs. She also has an air supply that continuously blows air around where the laser comes out. The air supply blows any smoke away from the laser lens and also puts out any fires in the material that may start. Koneko has a fan that goes out of the back of her to the outside, this allows fumes and smoke to be safely vented outside.
So first step to the laser cutting process is to design! Here we have a design for a card front.
When designing something for laser cutting it is very important to make a design where the lines aren’t to close together, and you don’t want a design that is too complicated.
Line color is also very important. Koneko’s programming reads line color to know what to do. Red lines cut right through the material. Blue lines engrave on the material. Area's that are filled in (called raster engraving) we use different shades of grey. The card front that we are going to laser cut only has cut lines, so we only use red lines.
After our design is all ready to cut, the design is imported into Koneko’s laser cutting program. The grey dot on the top left of the design is where the laser head is, we want to make sure the material we are cutting is directly under the laser head. We are using grey card stock to cut the front of this card. The setting on the lower left of the first picture below is how fast Koneko will run the laser. These settings change based on what material we are cutting. The thicker, denser the material the slower we need to vector cut. With paper we want the cutting speed to be fast so the paper doesn’t catch fire (fire is bad!)
Next we set the strength of the laser. Just like the speed settings, this changes based on the thickness and material we are cutting. We want the current to be high enough to cut through the material, but not so high that the laser will burn the material. Because Koneko doesn’t come with presets, this took a LOT of trial and error. And yea there was a little fire that happened a few times .
And finally we are ready to cut! Here’s a video of Koneko cutting out our design!
Pretty cool eh?
Here's our final card front! Koneko does a beautiful job of producing nice clean lines and follows the design perfectly.
And now the card is ready for assembly!
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial about laser cutting. If you have any questions or comments about the process please don’t hesitate to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment! Talk to you soon!