Initially I spent a lot of time trying to come up with an idea for this project. Ultimately, I resolved to spend less time coming up with the project and more time on learning the software. Prior to this project I had not used any of the suggested 2D or 3D modeling programs. After playing around with SketchUp, 123DMake, AutoCad, and Inkscape, I ultimately chose to stick with learning the latter. There are several helpful tutorial videos on YouTube for Inkscape. I spent several hours learning the shortcut keys and experimenting with shapes and designs. If you are a beginner, I highly recommend watching some of the videos to understand how to navigate the various toolbars.
The two most important features I learned about for my project were: polygon manipulation and path union/difference. The polygon draw funtion in Inkscape allows you to adjust the number of corners, roundness, height, width, and it even has a function called "randomize." You can see some of the six-sided polygons I made to the right. I found very fun to manipulate the variables while drawing designs for my project. The path union/difference functions allows you to either join two shapes into a new shape through the union feature or subtract a shape from another shape using the difference feature. The blue arch and the outlined shapes pictured on the right highlight some of th ways I utlized the union/differnce features.
When it was time to cut the designs in the shop I was eager to see how my calculations would translate on the cardboard. The laser cutter in the science center has a specific process for use: 1) turn on exhaust 2)turn on the exhaust in the hood 3)before printing turn on nitrogen (this helps prevent build up on the optics) 4)Make sure green light is on the machine. I saved my files as SVGs so importing them into Corel Draw was fairly straight forward: 1)Set page settings to refect the laser bed 32x18 2) import file 3)change stroke lines to hairline 4) set fill to blank (unless rastering). I did come across a few speed bumps with some strange augmentation of my designs upon import, but none of us the shop could figure out why it was happening. For my project I made a series of different shape designs. You can see me playing with them on the right. They allow for flexibility in making, such as antlers!