Thursday, March 10, 2011

Laser Cutting

 In Columbus we are fortunate enough to have this wonderful workshop called the Columbus Idea Foundry.  Basically it is a metal and wood workshop where members pay a monthly fee to use the space and the equipment.  Some of the equipment of course costs more due to consumables used such as welding, laser cutter and so on.

I took the esteemed Laser Cutting Class on the 60 W Epilog laser cutter with a 12″x24″ bed  by Paul.  It was probably some of the best $25 I have spent in a long time.
These are some examples of what it can cut, plexi glass with etching, leather, wood.  All these materials can be at the maximum thickness of 1/2".  The only things that this will not cut are Metal and PVC.  

This is the machine opened up
Below is a full photo to show you the scale. It really wasn't as big as I thought it would be but still impressive.

This is Paul explaining the rotary attachment that makes it possible to do the etching and cutting on circular objects, such as tubes and drinking glasses.

This was one of the optional beds to put under your materials as you are cutting.  I love how it has a history where you can see the shapes from the things that other people have cut into it.

This is just before the start up.  You can see that tiny red dot is where the laser will be cutting at.

Here is the best photo I could take of the laser at work.  Since it is cutting plexi glass is it burning off this fine plastic powder.  It is all enclosed in a case with a vacum sucking up the air and dust particles so when it is running you don't need to keep a mask on.

This is some plywood that was repeatedly cut.  You can see the scorch marks from the Laser.  Essentially you are rapidly burning through whatever material so you will get a burning smell and sometimes small sparks and flashes depending on the material that you are using.  Since the laser is so precise you can cut super to close previous cut marks without worrying about the material making a bend or distorting it.  Imagine how a craft punch can do the same shape over and over and all the way to the edge of the paper as long as there is room.  That is just how close the laser cutting can be for these projects.

These were two sample cuts out of thick leather about 1/4"  Seeing this made me smile and instantly I was all about the possibilities for fabrication with this machine.  I will be coming back with some samples of different fabrics to add to their tester community chart.  I can't wait to see what it can do to my silk organza and micro super mesh spandex.  Apparently there is a company in Columbus that does large sized laser cutting of fabrics called Laser Cut Fabric (surprised?).  They actually did a lot of work with NYFW designers and that right there is darn tooting special and good mark on the C-Bus map for me!  You can Check out their Article on laser cut dresses for Zak Posen here.


  1. This looks really fun- I need to get over there soon!

  2. I'm excited for other classes that they have as well. I really want to try a sand casting class.