First project at Advanced Media Studios
A couple weeks ago I started working at the Advanced Media Studio, a division of ITS. I’m one of the people who executes jobs using the laser cutter. Soon I’ll learn the rapid prototyping machine (3D printer), and the large format printers and drum scanner.
For my first project on the laser I decided to make a zoetrope. To start, I made a file in Adobe Illustrator that tells the laser where to cut and how to cut. The red lines are vector cuts, meaning the laser follows a line and cuts through the material. The blue lines are vector etches, meaning the laser follows a line but doesn’t cut all the way through. The black fill objects are raster etches, which means that the laser burns areas of the material to a specified depth depending on power, speed, and points per inch. Fewer points per will leave more scored/burned material behind. The color files have to be in RGB, with the red at 255 with no mixture, the blue at 255 with no mixture and the black as full black. Vectors cuts and etches can be either 0.1pt or 0.01pt. I like to use the 0.01pt on thinner materials because it takes less energy to cut the material, and it preserves the size of the object better. The laser cuts on the line, not to the left or right of the line.
Taylor and I worked on getting the raster etch to burn the paper to a nice dark brown, but it came out nearly imperceptible. We thought that if we burned the etch any more it would go through the paper. The vector etches and vector cuts came out very nice, with the numbers of each frame fine and detailed.
If I were to make it again I would use a thicker, denser card paper to get the burn a little darker. I would also measure better… the zoetrope came out too big for the wheel I was planning to mount it on– somehow 2 inches were added to the circumference. Lastly, I don’t think the width of the frames is the proper ratio compared to the slits, but in order to know that for a fact, I’d have to try it.
Here’s a video of the file being etched. I think the numbers are 4pt, which shows the degree to which the laser can make very fine cuts and etches, even without the HD lens.