Perspex legs for designer table

Perspex legs for designer table

Posted Posted in Designers, Furniture, Perspex

Trevor Coston is a freelance designer based in the Highlands. Bisque commissioned him to design and install a conference table for their London radiator showroom. They wanted their radiators illuminated through glass portholes in the tabletop as a focal point. Bisque loved the results.

Subsequently, the Zehnder Group commissioned him to design a coffee table around one of their own radiators. It would be one of the first things that visitors would see in their new multi-million pound Customer Experience Centre.  Something special was required.

Making an invisible table

Trevor investigated about a dozen different designs using different models of radiators. He decided to suspend one of their Classic column radiators almost invisibly under a glass top. 9mm Perspex seemed the obvious choice for the legs, so he pared the shape down to the minimum required to hold the weight of the radiator and table top. The next challenge was to find a suitable supplier to make them, and he got in touch with LaserFlair.

I laser cut the table leg shapes from 9mm Perspex and sent them to Trevor. During production, I left the protective film on the Perspex sheet to protect the it from the heat of the laser. Heat makes it turn cloudy around the cut edges which detracts from the finish. It’s also useful to leave the films on Perspex products to protect them during shipping as Perspex can get scratched easily.

radiator table perspex top

Another happy customer

Trevor said: ‘I found LaserFlair through a Google search. Instantly, I knew that it would be my first choice of supplier. It was a fairly local small company and very competitive on costs and lead times.

The components arrived on time, machined exactly as I requested. Once assembled, the table looked fantastic. I now have quite a few projects in mind that I would like to use LaserFlair for. It’s very exciting  to think about what we could achieve together in the future.’

 

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

tartan installation with Glenfiddich artist

Tartan installation with Glenfiddich artist

Posted Posted in Artists, Perspex

Jeehee Park is an artist in residence at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Aberdeenshire. She planned to create an art installation using Perspex to create an effect like tartan for an exhibition at the distillery, and she needed help with laser cutting and engraving them.

Maximum panel size

Jeehee had created pieces in a similar vein before, but wanted to experiment with her ideas further. She sent artwork for two large panels at 1200 x 800mm, the largest size that I could cut. Four smaller panels to create a box effect were also required, along with lots of small square spacers to help with assembling the piece.

Engraving clear Perspex

The Perspex for the panels was all clear and colourless. Jeehee wanted lots of parallel lines vector engraved across their widths. This effect works well on clear acrylic as the lines catch the light and look white, a subtle effect which becomes more pronounced the deeper the engrave is.

Jeehee wanted the engraved lines to be 2 – 3mm deep into the 10mm thick panels rather than just on the surface to catch the light in the way that she wanted. As I knew that I’d need to use a power equivalent to cutting 3mm perspex, I left the protective film on the engraved sides of the Perspex during production. It protects the surface from the heat of the laser which turns Perspex cloudy white around the engraved lines.

Test piece

Jeehee asked for a sample so that she could see exactly how the effect would work. Then she could make changes before I cut and engraved the large panels. She was very pleased and wondered whether to make the lines deeper, but was worried that the Perspex panels might bend under their weight if they were engraved too deeply. In the end, she decided to err on the safe side and asked me to proceed with 2 – 3mm depth as we had agreed.

Making the panels

I ordered sheets that were 1220 x 820mm to give a little margin without much wastage. First, I engraved the lines on the panels and then cut the rectangles to keep the edges as smooth as possible. If I had cut the rectangles first, the engraved lines would have made grooves on the cut edges.

My biggest challenge was finding a carrier to ship a parcel that was 1300 x 900mm and weighing 27kg. 10mm Perspex is very heavy in large sheets. Most couriers won’t take heavy parcels in such large dimensions.

The finished installation

Jeehee was delighted with the panels when they arrived at the distillery. After a few weeks of suspense while she assembled the piece,  I was blown away when she sent these photos taken by John Paul. I love the way the horizontal engraved and vertical colour elements work together.

The current exhibition featuring this work is open until Sunday 20th August.

 

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

How to make a Pepper's Ghost installation

Pepper’s Ghost installation

Posted Posted in Artists, Perspex

Angus was a 6th Form student at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews. He created this project as part of his studio work for the IB Visual Arts course.

Victorian illusion

The Pepper’s Ghost technique has been used by magicians and illusionists since Victorian times. More recently, music festivals have used it to create interesting visual effects. That’s how Angus first became aware of it.

Creating the right artwork

Angus wanted to create each part of the illusion by laser cutting three panels of black acrylic. He wanted the first sheet cut with face details, the second sheet cut with stars and the third with cloud details. He chose 3mm acrylic as it was robust enough for the job. It was important that light wouldn’t pass through the body of the material to spoil the effect of light travelling through the holes in it.

In order to laser cut the black acrylic, I needed vector files. Shapes for each star and each cloud outline must be surrounded by a single hairline vector line that the laser can follow. Angus and the school Art Department had no previous experience of laser cutting, and none of their artwork packages were able to generate vector artwork, so there was a learning curve to climb until I had the files I needed. Sometimes artwork creation can be the trickiest stage of a project.

Creating the illusion using acrylic

To create the Pepper’s Ghost illusion, Angus laid each of the laser cut black panels flat on a light box. You can just make out all three sitting one behind the other in the picture. The clouds are at the front, the stars behind that and the face is at the back.

Light shone from the light box through the laser cut holes in the black acrylic. This light was reflected in the clear acrylic sheets set above the black panels at 45 degrees, facing the viewer. You can see the front clear acrylic panel easily.

The transparent image appearing at 90 degrees to the black acrylic sheets. It incorporates the reflections from the layers of light reflected by the clear acrylic. All three reflected images superimpose to create the illusion of Angus’ face floating in the night sky. It’s an impressive effect and Angus’ ambitious installation was a huge success.

Each year, the Art Department has a show of pupil’s artwork for different year groups.

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.’

Jaggedy Thistle acrylic jewellery

Jaggedy Thistle acrylic jewellery

Posted Posted in Artwork, How to, Jewellery, Perspex

LaserFlair makes fun and funky acrylic jewellery for Jaggedy Thistle in Dunkeld. We laser cut their reindeer brooches in the run up to Christmas along with highland cows and Scottie dogs. This is how it all happens.

We need vector artwork to create items like this.  Jaggedy Thistle provide the artwork for their bespoke products, and the acrylic in the colours they require.

Vector cutting detailed shapes

Vector artwork is very simple. It consists of hairline shape outlines, and the laser follows the lines in the artwork to cut out each shape. There is a vector line for each outline cut on a piece. In the case of the reindeer in the picture, we cut the eye shape first. When the body is cut, the whole reindeer can drop out of the acrylic sheet and is then in the wrong position to cut out internal detail. This is why we set the machine’s cutting order so that internal details are cut before outline shapes. We minimise waste by using our laser cutting software to tile shapes which maximises yield from the acrylic available.

Protecting the pieces

Acrylic has a protective film on each side to prevent the surfaces from scratching. We leave it on during production to protect the acrylic surface from the heat of the laser which causes discolouration near the cut edges. After manufacture, it protects the pieces during shipping, keeping each shape in perfect condition as acrylic is easily scratched.

When Jaggedy Thistle receive their delivery, they remove the protective film from each brooch. Then they add the red noses and brooch pins, and mount them on cards for sale. Aren’t they cute!

Why we use Perspex branded acrylic

Why we use Perspex branded acrylic

Posted 1 CommentPosted in How to, Perspex

Perspex branded acrylic is the best quality. Other brands have additives that make the cutting process significantly slower and smellier on the laser. This adds to production time costs and can decrease operator comfort.

We had to complain about some 8mm white acrylic that was not Perspex branded. We had bought it for a project with a designer who was prototyping a product. When we cut it with the laser, the edges went brown when they should have stayed white, and it was all down to the makeup of the acrylic. We also had to run the machine at a slower speed than we’d expected for the thickness of the material which made the process less profitable for us. Thankfully, the supplier gave us a refund for the material as they agreed that it was of inferior quality to branded Perspex.

We learned something that day, and now we never order acrylic that isn’t Perspex because of these problems.

How is acrylic made?

Acrylic, unlike plywood, is less varied in sheet thickness, but there’s more to it than that. There are two kinds of acrylic, cast and extruded, named after their production processes. Cast acrylic is made by pouring the acrylic into a mould to set. Extruded acrylic is rolled to a set thickness during the production process.

So theoretically, extruded acrylic should be closer to the nominal thickness of the sheet. You won’t see the same thickness differences between cast and extruded acrylic that you’d expect between nominal and actual thicknesses of plywood, where you can expect differences of 0.2 to 0.3mm. The errors are far smaller.

But not all acrylics are equal, and this is the important thing to watch out for. It could affect the look, quality and cost of your product.