Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Laser Cutter

Tonight at Pumping Station: One there will be certification on the Laser Cutter.  I'm not sure if I'll go or not, but here is some documentation that could be useful, pulled from the Google Group: 

I do all my laser cutter designs in inkscape and then laser cutting and etching from adobe reader resulting a totally no cost software process flow.  We have done over several thousand designs this way in the Fab Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry.  Here is the process to get inkscape to work followed by a simple explanation of why I believe this process flow works and is good:

1. Design in inkscape
2. Using Object, Fill and Stroke set the following
3. Fill Tab: No paint (x) unless you want to etch the whole object solid
4. Stroke Paint Tab: Flat Color
5. Stroke Style Tab: width .001 in for cutting .015 or larger for etching
6. Make sure blur is set at 0% and opacity is set at 100%
7. Setting RGB values to other than 0,0,0,255 will either prevent cutting or lighten and or change the level of etching.
8. Save a COPY of you work as a PDF, DO NOT use the normal save as function, it may mess up your original native inkscape svg file possibly making it un-editable.
9. Open your PDF file with adobe reader send it to the laser cutter, go about setting up your powers and speed etc like normal.

That's pretty much it.

This process uses open source inkscape and free adobe reader or an alternative pdf reader, so we love it at the fab lab since it allows people to design at no software cost.  To spread digital fabrication to the all it's important to make sure software costs are zero.

Inkscape will work directly with the laser cutter, but it will etch (raster) everything and cut nothing.  I think this is because for some goofy reason the print function of inkscape rasterizes all vectors.  This makes sense because for most inkscape users a normal printer is the output device.  Saving a copy as a PDF allows the vector data to be transferred out of inkscape, which upon opening with a pdf reader can be passed on to the laser cutter.

Sunday training: Scanning Electron Microscope

On Sunday, Tony and I received great instruction, both classroom and hands-on in the use of the SEM, or Scanning Electron Microscope.  Wow, this is pretty impressive (and expensive!) technology. During his hands-on session, Tony looked at dirt on a computer microchip, and I looked at dirt and a crack on a computer "pin" of some sort.  It is unbelievable, the level of detail we saw! At this point, we are only certified to use the machine, and not to prepare samples ourselves, but there are currently 8 samples located in the chamber to view.  I had initially thought regular microscope slides samples could be used, but I don't think this is the case.  Ryan, our teacher and SEM guru, said he would be happy to prepare and load samples for us in the meantime.  There will also be a further class down the road to prepare samples, but neither the equipment / supplies or curriculum is available just yet.

For my future purposes, here is the link to the SEM page on the Pumping Station: 1 Wiki.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where to find supplies and reading material

There is a great page on the Pumping Station: One wiki of both where to get stuff, and also where to find reading material on topics: the PS1 "sources" page. There is a great section about "Crafts" and that reading material section is non-existent.  Might be a place to start adding content?  

New uses for an old blog

This blog was initially used for the Social Media educational sessions at VAPL.  Now, I'm going to use it as a way to highlight my foray into the world of the "Maker".  I've made things for a while, primarily in crochet, but also in the world of felt.  Now, I've learned about Pumping Station: One, a wonderful place where people learn to use 3D printers, laser cutters, woodworking and metalworking tools, and so much more.  It is an exciting world, and I'm looking forward to becoming more a part of it.  This blog will be a record of my progress.