Deadline for laser cutting designs: 23:59 on Saturday 16th February 2019

The deadline for submitting laser cutting design drawings for the Tip the Can competition is 23:59 this Saturday, 16th February 2019. Submitted designs must comply with the guidelines below. The plan is to cut all submitted drawings that comply with the guidelines early next week, so that the parts can be returned to the teams next Wednesday, 23rd February. I cannot absolutely guarantee that parts will be returned on that date since it is subject to availability of equipment, staff, etc. However, I’m optimistic that you’ll get your parts back next Wednesday.

Guidelines:

  1. The material used will be 3mm acrylic.
  2. One submission only per team. If you realise an error in your submitted drawing before the deadline has elapsed, you can submit a replacement drawing. Only the last compliant submission from each team will be cut.
  3. The page size of your drawing must be 600mm (width) by 300mm (height).
  4. You should submit two copies of your drawing. The first should be PDF format (with 600x300mm page size). The second should be either SVG (if you’re using Inkscape) or DXF (if you’re using AutoCAD or some other drawing tool).
  5. Whatever drawing software you use, please set all dimensions to millimetres (mm) to avoid the pieces coming out the wrong size.
  6. To avoid wasting material during the cutting process, please pack your pieces along the left edge of the drawing, leaving a 5mm margin empty at the edge of the page.
  7. The drawing should contain only lines and curves to be cut by the laser. All lines and curves should be black (RGB value 0,0,0), fully opaque, and with a line width of 0.01mm. There should be no filled shapes or shaded areas. No other colours should be used. No labels or dimensions should be shown in the drawing.

I recommend using Inkscape for preparing your laser cutting designs. It’s a very flexible tool for 2D graphic design and illustration work which goes far beyond what you do for laser cutting patterns. The time you spend getting familiar with it will pay huge dividends in the future if you learn to use it well. Some useful tips for laser cutting drawings in Inkscape:

  1. Press Shift+Ctrl+D to open “Document Properties”. Set “Display units” to “mm”. Under “Page size”, in the “custom size” panel, set width to 600mm and height to 300mm. Personally, I also disable the page border shadow and set the page border colour to green so that I don’t mix it up with the lines of the drawing. Then close Document Properties.
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+P to open Inkscape’s “Preferences” dialog. In the “Tools” section (which should be visible when the dialog opens) select “Geometric bounding box”. Then close Preferences.
  3. When your drawing is complete, ensure the width of all lines is 0.01mm. To do so, press Ctrl+A to select the whole drawing. Then press Ctrl+Shift+F to open the “Fill and Stroke” dialog. Under stroke style, select a line width of 0.01mm. It should be applied to all selected objects. You should also ensure the line colour is black, the opacity is 100%, and the fill is set to transparent.

Other suggestions:

  1. To verify that your drawings are correct before submitting them, a very effective method is to cut them out of 3mm foam by hand and check they fit together. To do so, print your design it’s full size on A4 paper (you may need to adjust the page size of your drawing). Stick the paper printout onto a sheet of foam board using double sided tape or glue. Use a craft knife to cut along each line very carefully. With care, you can produce an excellent approximation to the final laser cut parts which will help to identify any oversights in the design.

If you have queries about creating or submitting your drawing, you can ask me or one of the other tutors in the lab or send me an email.

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