Bonzo's new dog tag for Funbox

Bonzo’s new dog tag for Funbox

Posted Posted in Exhibitions, Perspex

Last Christmas, Kevin from Funbox got in touch with a new idea. Previously, I’d helped Funbox with Perspex yale key eyes for Flossie the funster, a padlock nose for Fluffy the other funster, and skeleton key teeth for them both.

This time, Kevin wanted a new collar tag for Bonzo the Funbox dog laser cut from Perspex. His old one was black and white and made from a material that was curling and delaminating. With the Christmas shows just around the corner, the Funbox team thought that it was high time that Bonzo got a fabulous new collar.

Hot new look

Kevin wanted to keep the style of collar the same. A giant paw print was fun and looked great, but he wanted to spice it up to make it festive.

Ideally, he wanted the tag to have two layers, using different colours with cut outs on one layer to show off the colour underneath. I agreed that this was possible and that having two layers would help with the longevity of the tag. These parts of the Funbox costumes have to put up with a lot of packing and unpacking as well as costume changes during each show.

Kevin sent me artwork for the paw shape he wanted. I was able to trace it to create a vector file for laser cutting, and I added a hanging loop at the top so it could be attached to Bonzo’s collar.

Bonzo's new collar

Layering it up

Kevin bought pieces of 3mm silver glitter and 3mm translucent red Perspex to the workshop. He wanted red paw pads to be revealed through the silver paw outline.

To do this, I had to cut out the overall shape of the paw in the red. Then I did the same with the silver and cut out the pad shapes to create five windows.

This is how the pieces looked after they’d been cut and laid on top of each other.

Like a dog with a new collar

Bonzo was delighted with his new collar. It’s perfect for Christmas and looks very smart all year round.

 

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road safety buzzwire games

Road safety buzzwire games

Posted Posted in Exhibitions, Perspex

FifeX make interactive exhibits, and they were commissioned to create two road safety buzzwire games by Nottinghamshire County Council. They wanted them to use in their road safety workshops.   It was important for the games to be portable and battery powered so they could be used in a range of environments.

Designing the boards

FifeX decided to create the boards out of 5mm Perspex and got in touch to ask if I could laser cut the components for them. They wanted the boards to consist of two layers as you can see in the picture. An upper layer consisting of various shapes was to be secured to the back board in such a way that gaps of a certain width were created between the panels.

Ken and Paul planned to stick metal contact strips to these edges of these separate panels to create the buzzwire element of the game. They chose 5mm Perspex so that the edges of the pieces would have the right thickness to attach the contact strips securely.

Creating the buzzwire games

Paul sent me the artwork for the panels. I cut all the shapes, including holes for the stand offs that would connect the boards. When they were ready, Ken and Paul removed the film on the Perspex pieces. Film protects Perspex from getting scratched during shipping and from the heat of the laser cutting process. Then they added the electronic components and the printed cartoon style scenes showing hazards.

How to play

Users move a ‘car’ or ‘bike’ around the road shaped path through the game. They have to stay in the middle of the road or risk hitting the edges and buzzing! As players progress around the board, the hazards act as points of discussion during the workshops.

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

LaserFlair has entered the UK Blog Awards 2018. Public voting is open until 22nd December. If you’d like to vote for me, you can do so here. Thanks!

Alphabet rubber stamps for Studio MADE

Alphabet rubber stamps for Studio MADE

Posted Posted in Exhibitions, Rubber

Angela Davies and Mark Eaglen from Studio MADE in Denbigh asked if I could help them to create some bespoke rubber stamps. Studio MADE were holding an interactive printing workshop and exhibition for the Denbigh Alphabet project, celebrating the Welsh language using the Welsh and English alphabets.

They created the Denbigh Alphabet using local people’s photos of historical items and local environmental features in the town to form letters from the English and Welsh alphabets. You can see them below. Angela and Mark wanted to use the outlines of the shapes to create the letter shapes for the stamps. There would be 26 English letter stamps and 28 Welsh ones.

Denbigh alphabet
The Denbigh alphabet photographs

Alphabet artwork

As the project budget was tight, I suggested that cutting the letters out would be faster and therefore cheaper than engraving out the unwanted areas of the stamps.

Mark converted the letter shapes from the photos into vector files so that the laser could cut the shapes out. I could see that some of the letters were very thin and detailed, so I shared my vector artwork preparation blog to warn of the pitfalls with small detailed cutting projects.

Then they arranged the letters in rectangles so that each letter or pair of letters would be cut out of rectangles of rubber. This was clever, because it meant that each set of letters created two stamps – the positive and negative imprints as you can see in the stamps above and the prints below.

The robust and the fragile

Once the rubber sheet arrived, I cut the letters. Even at 1.5mm, rubber is pretty robust. Most came out well and the letters and their surrounds were perfect for use as stamps. I had to be careful to keep the insides of the letters (a, b, d etc) as they would be needed to complete the negative stamps.

There was one shape that was so fine that only its negative could be used effectively. Can you see the rope-like shape cut out next to the N? You can see how fragile it was, even when the artwork had been beefed up.

I used the same rectangle shapes to cut blocks of 9mm mdf to the same sizes as the stamps. Angela and Mark stuck them to the backs of the stamps, making them easier to handle during printing. They were careful to glue the letters on the wrong way so that the printed letters would be the right way round when printed.

Studio MADE prints

Assembling the stamps

I sent all the pieces of mdf and rubber to Studio MADE and they assembled the stamps. You can see them all in the picture at the top of the post. All the grey shapes are rubber, and the beige areas are the mdf blocks behind the rubber.

Printing workshop

Studio MADE posted pictures in their Instagram feed of the prints strung up on lines to dry after the workshops. I love how colourful they are and how the letter positives and negatives work together. And the letter forms are so interesting and beautiful. Participants used the stamps to spell out words in Welsh and English. This project was supported by Denbigh County Council, Denbigh Museum and Menter Iath Dinbych.

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

creating a massive floor jigsaw

Creating a massive floor jigsaw

Posted Posted in Designers, Exhibitions, Wood

The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther asked Wendy from The Malting House Design Studio to create some interactive exhibits. One of the items was to be a massive floor jigsaw. She wanted to know if I could help and if so, how best to make it.

Decisions, decisions!

I had worked with FifeX to create two giant jigsaws, so I knew this was possible. A good place to start was to decide the dimensions of the jigsaw, and what material to use.

Wendy wanted to make the jigsaw as large as possible. As my laser cutting bed is 1200 x 800mm, she chose to work with that. She wanted to make the jigsaw chunky and robust. As the laser can cut 9mm thick mdf, ply and Perspex, we discussed the merits of each.

Mdf feels like a jigsaw and cuts well. Thick plywood is less good for cut work. Knots in the laminated layers prevent clean cut throughs as the wood is more dense, and this can ruin a job. Perspex is good for cutting, but edges can be sharp and could hurt children. As the jigsaw needed to be printed with artwork, the decision came down to material properties and printability.

We agreed that mdf was the best material as it could be sprayed white before printing to make sure the colours popped. It would laser cut well, and the pieces would be safe to handle.

Artwork for printing

Wendy planned to create and adapt all the artwork required herself. She had a picture by Jurek Putter for printing onto the jigsaw, and the first step was to print the mdf board at the right size.

I suggested that we should make the mdf board a bit larger than the jigsaw needed to be. An extra 5mm in each direction would making the board 1210 x 810mm. If the edges became scuffed during printing or shipping, if wouldn’t matter. I would laser cut the final shape when I cut the jigsaw pieces so all the edges would look the same.

Wendy arranged to have the image printed a little bigger than 1200 x 800mm with 2 to 3mm bleeds at each edge. This standard printing practice would make sure that the jigsaw would be printed right to the laser cut edges.

Laser cutting a jigsaw

To laser cut the jigsaw, I needed a vector file with lines that the laser would follow to cut each shape.

My top tip for Wendy was to have sets of horizontal and vertical lines that the laser would cut once only. The laser can cut 9mm mdf in one pass. Cutting the same line twice means that the back can be damaged by heat and flaming if the material catches even momentarily. Working this way reduces production time and improves product quality while keeping costs down.

Wendy wanted the jigsaw to contain lots of interesting shapes that were not necessarily fully interlocking. She wanted to have four shapes, a barrel, a cross, a bird and a window incorporated into the design. I agreed that she could have whatever she wanted if she stuck to my vector artwork design tips!

All our careful preparation paid off.  Wendy made the outline rectangle of the jigsaw 1200 x 800mm and asked that the Jurek Putter mark at the edge of the artwork was included. The jigsaw cut cleanly and beautifully. The picture at the top is of the jigsaw on the laser after cutting. It filled the whole machine bed. Laser cut mdf edges are black and they contrasted well with the picture side and the white back of the puzzle.

Wendy was delighted with the results, and so was the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

branding an exhibition stand

Branding an exhibition stand

Posted Posted in Corporate, Exhibitions, Signage

Strathearn Stone and Timber (SST) planned to exhibit at The Home Building and Renovating Show in Edinburgh. After rebranding and relaunching their website, they wanted to make the right impression at the exhibition and show off as much as possible! This was the moment to build an impressive stand to reflect the beauty of their products.

Engraved panels

Mark, the MD, wanted to line the walls and floor of their stand with their wooden floor and wall panelling products. And they had a cunning idea to add branding. Knowing how good their products look when laser engraved, they asked us to engrave several pieces of panelling with their logo. These boards would be mounted in strategic places around the walls and floor of the stand to best effect.

Artwork

SST sent a vector version of their logo in black and white. This was perfect as I needed to rescale it to fit comfortably within the width of the wooden boards. Jpg and png images can loose quality when resized but that doesn’t happen with vector files, so we knew that the artwork quality would be print quality. And black and white artwork is perfect as the laser engraves or doesn’t engrave. There’s no ambiguity, and the laser engraves the black areas and doesn’t engrave the white areas.

All the boards were the same width, so one piece of artwork was required to engrave all the boards.  We set up the artwork so that the logo was centred on each board.

Production

Strathearn Stone and Timber provided wooden boards from their ranges in oak and pine and brought them to the workshop and we engraved them with a nice deep raster (fil in) engrave. It was important that the branding should stand out clearly and be visible from a distance

After the boards were engraved, Strathearn cut them to size and finished them. Their stand exuded the quality and natural beauty of their products.

SEPA flood education models

SEPA flood education models

Posted Posted in Exhibitions, Perspex

FifeX asked us to help with an educational project for SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency). They wanted some bespoke models to help to educate schools and other groups about flooding and its effects including broken trees, damage to property including buildings and vehicles, and infrastructure like roads. These models would have to be robust and stand up to handling by groups of all ages.

Choosing materials

Fifex knew that Perspex would be perfect for the job. It can be sourced in a wide range of colours and can be cut into intricate shapes. They decided on 5mm thick Perspex to make the shapes sturdy, and they designed the pieces so that the car, house and tree shapes could slot into bases. 3D models would have more impact and make them easier to handle.

A good fit

The main challenge was to make sure that the tabs and slots on the shapes and the model bases fit together well. If they were too loose, the models wouldn’t be robust enough when glued together. If too tight, they wouldn’t fit together at all! When materials are laser cut, the width of the cut is determined by the nature and thickness of the material. It’s always worth checking the artwork by making prototypes so that dimensions can be adjusted if necessary. Also, material thicknesses can be nominal and have margins for error, so it’s always worth checking. In this case, we got it right first time and the fit was perfect.

 

SEPA flood model laser cut car
laser cut car

Feedback

Ken Boyd, Director of FifeX, said, ‘Laser cutting the shapes was a fantastic solution for us as the models were to look accessible for a young audience with fun, interesting and recognisable shapes. Brightly coloured Perspex was the perfect material. LaserFlair helped us with initial prototyping and a very quick turn-around on the final product as well as some spares and extra bits.’