When I first joined the invention studio, most of the machines were a bit overwhelming, but I found the laser cutter to be quite user friendly. It could use just about any file, materials for it were cheap, and best of all, as long as you used a little common sense it posed no danger at all. Just watch your part, stop the job if anything goes wrong, and don’t cut anything that gives off toxic gasses.
I decided to make a 3D “puzzle” using mat board, and you can see the result. I was fairly pleased with how it turned out, and although it was largely an artistic rather than engineering endeavor, it got me familiar with the machine and I learned a lot. It wasn’t long before I was one of the go-to guys when someone needed help with the laser.
I started with an image of a butterfly I had taken previously as a template, and added a few extra details to compensate for the reduction of a 3 color pallet. (Without the extra blue spots on the upper wing, it looks a bit bland.)
From there I took the image into Inkscape and used the trace bitmap function. Unfortunately I didn’t really get the result I wanted, but it wasn’t to hard to create the vectors by hand over the image because the shapes are so simple.
Once that was done, it was trial and error to find the best cut settings and offsets that resulted in a snug fit. The kerf with of the laser is quite small, but for a tight fit, it had to be accounted for.