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intro to fab / week 03 – laser cutter

for this week we were introduced to the laser cutter. it was the first machine i learned how to use when i started to the shop – i know how to use it, but there’s a lot of learning by testing different settings and materials. during the class we were introduced to other techniques to work with acrylic and i was quiet interested on the heating machine, to make angles and distortions on the acrylic by (as expected) heating it up.

i’ve been testing a prototype of a rigid heddle for a loom (my pomp + icm final) and this week i laser cutter two versions of it. i decided i wanted to use the acrylic shapes that were cut out from the acrylic sheet to make something with it, working with the heating machine to make some kind of jewelry with the stick shapes.

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introtofab_03_04at first i started playing with the heating, putting the acrylic pieces in different angles over the heating area (varying the area to be heated) as well as understanding how long it took to heat enough to be soft, how it would be to bend / twist things at the same time etc. i find it very interesting to be able to shape the material due to its malleability, but the heating machine requires patience. it’s like making a barbecue out of acrylic: leave a while, flip it, wait, flip it again, blend slightly on the machine to see if it’s soft, repeat. i played for a while with the timing and areas that were heated, what i was able to make with those and with modified shapes (which should come first, i.e. bending or twisting etc).

then, after deciding which shapes i liked better, i decided to sketch some variations of necklaces with cotton thread and the acrylic modified shapes. after i pick some of the sketches to execute, i’ve realized that i should have put some wholes on the illustrator file, to be able to tie it on the thread. so what i ended up doing was to make wholes with the power drill at the shop.

so the process of making the necklaces that to happen in this order:

1) get the flat acrylic and make the number of the wholes needed with the power drill;

2) put the acrylic piece on the heating machine, at first the bending areas and later the twisted / not straight angles areas;

3) tie it with the cotton thread.

here are the 3 necklaces! i thought it was very interesting to mix materials and i definitely want to explore the heating machine more (as well as the laser cutter). again, planing would help me / save me time. the fact that i knew what kind of shapes i wanted to get were a good guide to understand how to work with a new machine – and also the fact that i had a good number of acrylic pieces to test all kinds of bending/twisting combinations.

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and when i was tying the fourth necklace, i realized that actually the way the pieces were bended they worked very well as a “lock” for the necklace. they fitted each other in a way that once you cross them, it’s hard to get loose ; and also is a much more interesting locker than the regular one.

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Published in fall 2015 intro to fab

One Comment

  1. I’m glad you experimented with the acrylic bender. Even better that you used the off cuts from your loom project.

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