Sophie Pieroni is a designer and she contacted me to ask if I could make some pins of her greyhound design. She wanted them laser cut and engraved from 3mm ply and 3mm black perspex to sell in her Etsy shop.
Vector artwork design
Vector artwork is a good basis for any design for laser cutting and engraving.
As Sophie wanted to use cutting and raster engraving for her pins, I pointed her to my blog about designing artwork for laser cutting as a good place for design tips. To make the pins, I’d programme the vector lines around the shape to be cut through and internal detail would be programmed for fill in engraving.
Watch out for the eyelashes!
Sophie’s design was perfect for what I needed, but there was one problem. I cut a prototype from plywood, and the greyhound’s eyelashes on the left of the pin were very thin and vulnerable as you can see from the picture at the top right. The lashes on the right were fine as they were engraved but not cut around.
Pins are generally small, so detail like this is more challenging to make robust. If the artwork was laser cut at a larger size, the eyelashes could be chunky enough to be robust. Miniaturising designs for cutting and engraving presents so many challenges.
Making designs robust
I sent Sophie a picture of the prototype and she came up with the perfect solution.
She made the pins bigger, and created an unengraved margin around the shape of the greyhound that she defined with engraving. As the unengraved margin was wide enough to accommodate the eyelashes, it made them indestructable. The greyhound’s nose and ear were also strengthened, and the engravings looked better with surrounding unengraved space. You can see the difference that the design tweaks made in the picture at the top.
I sent Sophie a photo of the improved product, and she was happy. We had a working prototype after only two iterations.
New product release
Sophie has released her two new pins in her Etsy shop now she’s painted the perspex ones and finished them all. If you love greyhounds or know someone who does, they could be right up your street!
It was important for Sophie to make an ethical product. She said:
‘It seems the best way to get a place on Etsy and Instagram is to make pins and patches. Patches aren’t so much the problem if they’re manufactured in the UK, but pins are a big unethical pit.
It’s impossible to find enamel pins made outside China. Trust me, I tried. I don’t think it should be news to anyone that workers in China aren’t fairly paid. You can see that in the prices it cost to get pins manufactured. I decided I didn’t want to contribute to that industry. Laser cutting is the best alternative for me. I wanted to find a UK based supplier and decided to go with LaserFlair who’s based in Fife.
After getting my designs cut and engraved, I hand finished each one myself, you can see videos of this on my feed. So when you buy one of my pins, you’re supporting small businesses like myself and getting something proudly made in Scotland.
I hope if you weren’t aware of the enamel pin business this has opened your eyes and given you an insight into what I’m trying to do.’