H T Ma A
week 2

Laser and Vinyl Cutting

For this week I kept my projects pretty simple, as it was the first time using both vinyl and laser cutters. The assignment was to make anything desired in the vinyl cutter and a press fit construction kit with the laser cutter. For the Press Fit Construction Kit I initially thought of building an abstract spatiality through the intersection of multiple triangles. It seemed to me to be a good possibility, which could be assembled in diverse ways. Some references I saw for parametric design showed nice spatial configurations, made out of simple shapes. So, I decided to give it a try doing it in a small scale. To begin with, I made a tiny paper prototype to see how triangles of different sizes would come together and which spatial configuration they would build. After that, and satisfied with the result, I moved to the fusion 360 software to experiment drawing diverse triangular shapes, with different dimensions. At this step, I did some other simulations with paper to come to a possible reasonable joint dimension and, at this point, I realized the prototype I initially did was to small. I had to draw bigger triangles in other to have sufficient room for multiple joints in the same piece. I came up with a joint dimension of 15 x 3mm, chamfered at the edges.

After drawing triangles in diverse dimensions I organized them in a row in order to make the best usage of the cardboard.

After that, I went to the lab to cut the first pieces and see how it goes. Some important points to remember were 1) not to leave the laser cutter unattended 2) set up the autofocus 3) watch out for bending cardboards. This last point really gave me some trouble. Although I selected a very flat piece, it seems that it was not flat enough for the autofocus to operate equally throughout the entire board. As a result, some pieces were entirely cut out of the board, while others had just a groove. As a result a tryied to cut it again, setting up more power to the laser. The second try was definitely better than the first, but some pieces were still not entirely cut of, so I had to work with the exacto-knife to have them all separately. Something that I learned from this first try, is that the better way to laser cut a cardboard is having small pieces in a smaller piece of cardboard, instead of bigger ones distributed throughout the board. A bigger board bend easier and therefore higher is the chance that the autofocus does not operate evenly throughout the entire thing.

After having cut the pieces with the exact knife I started assembling it in diverse ways.

This project has an open ended final result, as the shape can be changed through diffenret ways of assembling the pieces. Although the triangles ended up being bigger and coarser then I initially thought (from the paper prototype), it was interesting to experiment producing different articulations between them.

My experience with the vinyl cutter was very simple and pleasant. I decided to make a minimal identification sticker for one of my notebooks, which look all the same. I drew it using Illustrator. The experience using the machine was pretty much straight forward, without many surprises. Following the steps indicated by Tom, all went smooth. Some notes to remember were 1) let the machine calculate the size of vinyl you have placed in it 2) use this size when setting up the printer 3) use contact paper to glue and transfer your sticker in case it has parts separate parts.