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How To Laser-Cut Coasters (For Pi Day!)

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Pi Day inevitably involved tasty beverages, so I decided to make some Pi-themed coasters at TechShop to keep my table dry and safe.

To laser-cut the coasters, the first step is to pick a design. I knew I wanted mine to be in the shape of the letter π, but I also wanted it to have be solid and evenly support a cup, so I went on a font search. Eventually I found on Poplar Std Black, which seemed to have the properties I was looking for.

To design a coaster with inscribe text in Illustrator:
  • Make your artboard 4" x 4"; this seems to be the ideal size for a coaster
  • Using the Type Tool, draw a pi at the biggest font size available
  • Select the text box and choose Type > Create Outlines
  • Change to an outline by setting the fill to transparent, the stroke to black and the stroke width to .001
  • Release the outline: Object > Compound Path > Release
  • Duplicate the outline layer; since we will want to use different laser setting for the text and the outline, it will be easier to hide a layer at a time.
  • Find the text you want to inscribe (in my case the digits of pi), and copy them onto your clipboard
  • Using the Area Type Tool, select the outline path, and paste in your text (I used 8pt Times font for the digits)
  • Double-click Area Type Tool, and add 1/16" margin around edge
  • Finally, repeat the steps to turn the inscribed text into outlines:
  • Select the text box and choose Type > Create Outlines
  • Change to an outline by setting the fill to transparent, the stroke to black and the stroke width to .001
Note that it's certainly possible to raster letters with the laser, but I prefer the effect of vector cutting the outlines of the text.
 
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sunshiine1 year ago
I like how this turned out! Thanks for sharing and do have a splendorous day!
sunshiine