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College of Design

Monday, February 22, 2016

Adventures with the Laser Cutter

My first experience with the laser cutter in the DigiFabLab was over a year ago, when I designed a stencil for a line of Minneapolis-themed shirts. They turned out well, and it was a good experience working with a machine that had once seemed so intimidating (because a laser cutter seemed way out of my league, as a graphic designer who was not a crafty person). But after that project ended, I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be using the laser cutter again. Now, a year later, I think I was wrong to make that assumption.

A few days ago, I attended a presentation about the DigiFabLab, where we learned all about the potential uses for the laser cutters in both McNeal Hall and Rapson Hall. One of the lab technicians explained to us which materials the laser could cut, what the hours for the lab are, and how to set up our files properly for the laser cutter. It was all great information, but I personally thought that the most important part of the presentation came when he showed us several amazing examples of what the laser cutter could create.

I found out that the laser cutter doesn’t just cut through these materials—it can engrave them, too. All you need is an Illustrator file with the proper set-up (which you can find on the DigiFabLab website) and you can create an intricate design for a book cover, a woodblock for printing, or maybe even a business card. Not only that, but the laser cutter works for thick materials like wood as well as thinner things like cardstock. I could use the laser cutter to make precise, complicated cuts that I normally wouldn’t be able to do by hand. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities, especially since I’m in the Packaging and Display class right now. I’m definitely going to be using the laser cutter to help create my boxes and containers, and I’ll be sure to share my results here when I’m finished!

Graphic Design