Laser cut business cards for Ritchie Design

Laser cut business cards for Ritchie Design

Posted Posted in Designers, Paper

Courteney Ritchie is a recent graphic design graduate and has started her own business, Ritchie Design. She wanted to create her own bespoke business cards and had a clever idea for a two ply laser cut card that she wanted to have laser cut and engraved. She had an idea to play on her surname and make her business cards look like Rich Tea biscuits!

Business card vector artwork

Courteney sent me artwork for the layers to be cut from brown kraft card that she had delivered to me. All the artwork was in vector format as it’s perfect for laser cutting and vector engraving, a similar process to cutting but using much less power. This allows the surface to have a good contrast mark without being in any danger of cutting through the material.

The top layer of the business cards was to be completely laser cut and the base layer was to have all the detail vector engraved so that when the layers were put together, this detail would be visible, giving more depth to the cut detail. I made a prototype and the engraving underneath the cuts really did throw the layers into sharper relief.

Engraving thin kraft card

My biggest challenge in this project was engraving the bottom layer so that the laser didn’t cut through. This kraft card was thin, and engraving on my lightest settings did cut though in places, especially at the corners of the letters where the laser slows down to change direction.

I did some tests and decided that I could use a little less power for engraving so that I’d still get consistent but lighter mark with no danger of cut through.

Finishing the business cards

I sent all the card discs to Courteney and she glued the layers and added a printed backing with her contact details. Haven’t they turned out well? Here’s her blog about personal branding where she talks aboout them.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Crail Castle Walkway panorama

Crail Castle Walkway panorama

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

The Crail Preservation Society wanted to refresh the Crail Castle Walkway panorama showing landmarks on the opposite side of the Firth of Forth. The old one was printed and mounted in a box to protect it from the weather, but it hadn’t survived the elements in that exposed spot. This time, they wanted it engraved on a piece of wood to fit the location.

I love panoramas, so I was really excited about this project!

Converting the panorama artwork for engraving

Dennis wanted to use the artwork that had been used for the previous panorama. It had been created by artist Kurt Diggelman. It had to be modified as it was in colour and the laser can’t engrave in colour. Catriona of CatMac Design is a graphic designer who helps me out with things like this, and she worked with Dennis to a create black and white vector artwork conversion of Kurt’s image.

One of my concerns was whether the text would be easy to read without people having to bend down. To check this, I performed some test engraves of the smallest text and they worked better than I’d expected.

A piece of white oak

Dennis knew Frazer Reid of FAR Cabinet Makers, so he asked him about what wood would be best to use for this project. Not only did it have to look beautiful, but it had to be suitable for outdoor display in an exposed spot. Frazer suggested white oak, and supplied a beautifully prepared piece 1330 x 385mm and about an inch thick. The maximum width of the machine is 1340mm, so it was a snug fit!

Crail Castle Walkway panorama

Engraving the panorama detail

I used machine settings to make sure the detail of the text would be as clear as possible. Then I engraved the wood with maximum power for best possible contrast between the engravings and the wood. Dennis was delighted with the results. It’s hoped that the panorama will be installed this week in its new home.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

personalising a leather cartidge belt

Personalising a leather cartridge belt

Posted Posted in Leather, Other

Customers often ask if I can personalise special gifts. I’ve engraved wallets, wooden boxes and even axes for best men and ushers!

Vicky asked me if I could engrave a leather cartridge belt for her son’s landmark birthday. Leather engraves well, and the appearance of engravings depends on the colour, type and finish of the leather.

This belt was very high quality and if I made a mistake, I knew I’d have to buy a new one!

Creating the vector artwork

Vicky wanted her son’s initials engraved on the belt. I typed them into my software and chose a font that she liked. I suggested choosing a finer font as the engraved areas of leather don’t look particularly attractive. They’re best minimised for best effect.

Personalising the belt

Vicky wanted the engraving to sit to the right of the buckle when fastened. I measured the space between the right hand edge of the buckle when fastened on the tightest hole and the nearest edge of the cartridge holders. Then I created a rectangle to represent that area of the belt, centred the artwork at the size Vicky wanted in it so they’d be engraved in the right place. We were ready to engrave!

laser engraved cartridge belt

What does engraved leather look like?

Engraving leather is like engraving card of different colours. Dye colour and depth of shade, and the depth to which artwork is engraved all contribute to the appearance of the engraving. It’s usually darker than the shade of the material and browner too as engraving is a burning process.

I had some engraved dark brown leather samples to show Vicky. She was keen to have an engraving that would stand out well and possibly be recessed into the leather.

After setting up the belt in the machine and checking it was the right way up so the cartridges wouldn’t fall out, I engraved the belt using my usual raster engraving settings for leather. The first pass was so clear and Vicky was so pleased that she didn’t feel the need to have the engraving any deeper.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

personalised coaster wedding favours

Personalised coaster wedding favours

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

Personalised favours are becoming more popular for weddings. Regular enquiries come from couples for individual touches that will remind guests of their special day. Usually wedding favours are requested with occasional wedding logs and stationary embellishments.

Rustic coasters

Rachel’s son and his fiancee wanted rustic coasters engraved with details of their wedding to give to their guests as favours. Everyone uses coasters, and they can bring back happy memories every time they catch the eye.

Gill and Ali wanted to use slices of tree branches. They asked local company Thomson Timber to make them, and they very kindly recommended my engraving services.

Designing the artwork

Rachel popped round to the workshop with the coasters when they were ready. Most of them were around 85mm in diameter, and they were all different shapes as branches aren’t perfect circles in cross section as you can see in the photo below. Jim had finished them beautifully on their presentation sides, but made sure all the coasters still retained the rustic look that Gill and Ali wanted.

Rachel had a note of the text to be engraved. Each coaster was to be the same with the wedding venue, the couple’s names, and the date of their wedding.

I laid the three lines out, and we chose a font that Rachel was happy with, making Gill and Ali’s names the focal point. We chose a size for the artwork so it would still fit on the smaller coasters without looking squashed. Then I engraved a sample so Rachel could see how they’d look.

branch slices ready for engraving
branch slices ready for engraving

Engraving wedding favours

As the text was quite small and fine, I suggested engraving at a slower speed to keep the engravings crisp. This had the added advantage of giving the engravings more depth which helps fine detail to stand out more. Rachel was delighted with the results, and I engraved the rest of the coasters.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Forsyth Dancing Shoes decoration

Forsyth Dancing Shoes decorations

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Forsyth Dancing Shoes sells Highland dancing shoes and pumps.  As well as shoes, Nichola has other merchandise like tea towels,  greetings cards and notebooks decorated with  designs she commissioned. She thought that hanging decorations would be a good addition to their range.

Dancing shoes artwork

Nichola’s friend Louise McLaren is an artist based in Comrie. She makes paper cut designs and she creates the artwork for Forsyth Dancing Shoes’ merchandise. Louise adjusted the artwork she created for the greetings cards for the decorations and provided the design in a vector format for laser cutting because she knew that Nichola wanted shapes cut out rather than printed.

What material to choose?

Nichola emailed me the artwork and gave me a call to discuss ideas. She wanted something that would look good spray painted or as they are in a material that would be robust, light and cost effective.

I suggested 3mm ply and mdf, or 2mm mdf if Nichola wanted something even lighter. Plywood is a nice option as the wood grain is attractive, but mdf has a pleasing earthy appearance. Both options are good value and require similar cutting settings at the same thickness.

The artwork included lots of fine detail. Louise had done a good job of keeping the design details 2 to 3mm thick to keep them as robust as possible. Any of the materials I suggested would work well for this new product.

Nichola chose 3mm ply, and I sent her a photo of a prototype. She loved it!

Nichola sells her dancing shoes and other products online and at dancing competitions. Her new decorations will have their first outing at a competition in Inverness this weekend. Hopefully they will be a great addition to her range.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Prototyping perspex brooches

Prototyping perspex brooches

Posted Posted in Perspex, Prototyping

Rosemary wanted to design a range of perspex brooches, but she needed to find someone to help her laser cut them. This is our journey together to create her first new product and the role that prototypes played in perfecting the design.

All prototyping starts with the artwork

There are two things to decide at the beginning of a laser cutting project. Artwork is a very important element to get right, so I pointed Rosemary to Artwork website page and my blog about designing artwork for laser cutting. These pages summarise what I would need to cut her products. Rosemary knew she wanted to work with perspex and I suggested that 3mm was robust enough.

Within a couple of weeks, Rosemary was in touch with her Frankie Frog design.

Initial design

Frankie Frog was in two layers. There was a yellow base layer with an external cut out shape and an engraved eye that Rose wanted fill in engraved, and a green top layer. The external shape matched the yellow layer, but there were three cut out body panels to show the yellow underneath. An eye was cut out and there were some lines to vector engrave showing leg and back outlines.

As a reality check, I found some leftover green and yellow perspex and cut one of each shape. It was a promising start, but seeing the shapes in my hand showed flagged up some areas for improvement.

Frankie’s toes were quite thin and I worried that even when the two layers of the brooches were glued together, they could break easily. Also, the cut out areas in the green later for the nose, throat and tummy left thin edge strips that weren’t very strong. The engraved eye didn’t show up well on the yellow, and the engraved lines on the green were so close to the cut outs that they got lost.

At the top of the post you can see the first prototype on the left.

Dolly Dimple Designs
Frankie Frog from initial sketch to final product

Second brooch prototype

I recommendations to Rose were that the following actions could improve the product.

  1. the toes should be made sturdier and more robust
  2. the cut out panels could be moved away from the body outline to make the narrow strips thicker
  3. the cut out panels should also be reshaped to move them away from the vector engraved lines for definition
  4. move the nose further away from the edge
  5. the yellow eye detail should be cut out instead of engraved

When she saw the picture of the first prototype, she agreed, made some changes and sent new files. You can see the second prototype on the right in the picture at the top. The changes worked and we had a final design after only two iterations. Very efficient!

When the perspex arrived, I made Rose’s first order. Within a few weeks, I had helped Rose take her initial designs through to a new product that she was really happy with.

Dolly Dimple’s new Etsy shop

Rose assembled her frog pieces and finished everything to her liking. Now Frankie Frog is up for sale in her shiny new Etsy shop and she’s working away on some new designs!

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.