Instructables

How to make laser-cut jewelry for Valentine's Day

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Picture of How to make laser-cut jewelry for Valentine's Day
White earrings pair.jpg
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This Instructable shows you how to make some personalized laser cut jewelery using Ponoko - maybe for your Valentine ;) . If you've never worked with a laser-cutter or have only used a vector art package once or twice before, then this guide is for you.

After a previous Instructable on making a laser-cut lamp, I realised it was important to create clearer step-by-step guides. As long as you've got a computer that can run a vector software package you'll be able to achieve some very cool results.

If you prefer to skip the Instructable and just get making, feel free to download the .eps files I've already created.

Let me know how you get on!
 
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Step 1: Stuff you'll need

Picture of Stuff you'll need
You'll only need a few things for this Instructable:

A steady hand
Inkscape
Ponoko Inkscape templates

Chain or Leather for the necklace
Earring hooks
Jump Rings
Pliers
Ink and Paint Brush
A rag

Step 2: Sketch some ideas

Picture of Sketch some ideas
The first thing I did was sit down with a pencil and some paper and sketch a few ideas that were floating around my head. I just tried a few different forms for a pendant necklace and I am thinking of engraving a pattern onto them.

At this stage I have a vague idea of the materials that I want to use. I'm thinking of white or clear acrylic and rubbing ink into the engraving details so that they stand out a bit more.

Step 3: Finding images for engraving effects

Picture of Finding images for engraving effects
butterfly.jpg
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For the engraving on my pendant I was thinking of using a butterfly shape and tiling it over the entire shape. I Google Image searched butterfly and some great images showed up for engraving.

Good images to look out for have simple shapes and outlines. They also have nice clean backgrounds. This will help make things easier :)

Save the image or images in a folder on your computer. You'll be using these later.

Step 4: Download and Open Inkscape

If you haven't already got Inkscape installed, head on over to Inkscape.org and download the latest version of Inkscape for your computer. Inkscape is great, not only is it free to use, it will work on Windows, Mac OS X, and most flavors of Linux.

Once you've downloaded the Inkscape application, follow the installation steps.

Once you've installed it, open up Inkscape so it's ready for the next step...

Step 5: Download and open Ponoko Inkscape starter kit

Picture of Download and open Ponoko Inkscape starter kit
You're now ready to download and open the Ponoko starter kit for Inkscape .

Once you've downloaded the starter kit, you'll see there are 3 Ponoko templates to choose from.

Open the P1.svg Ponoko template. (You can double click on the file or use the menu options inside Inkscape (File > Open) and then find the file P1.svg from there.)

You'll see an orange box with the words 'safe area' when you open the P1.svg. For these decorations you'll be working work with the smallest material size available - the P1. Its dimensions are 7.1 x 7.1 inches or 181 x 181 mm.

If you're interested, you'll find the starter kit includes the Ponoko making guide which contains all sorts of helpful information about designing and making with Ponoko.

Step 6: Tracing sketches

After doing some sketches for the shape of the pendants etc, I decided to just go with a simple rectangle shape with slightly rounded corners.

I used the Inkscape rectangle tool where I could create a rectangle shape with rounded corners. It also allowed me to add dimensions to the rectangle and set the radius for the corners which was great.

Step 7: Adding a hole

In this step I need to create a hole so that the Pendant can be hung from a chain.



I start by creating some guides so I know that I will be getting the hole in the middle of the shape. I click and hold at the side of the screen on the page rulers. I then drag guides out and position them roughly where i want them. I double click on the guide and a dialog box opens that allows me to edit the value so i can define exactly where they are. I enter the value to the nearest 10. I then reposition the rectangle so it snaps to the guides.

(You can edit your guide properties by going to File:Document Properties and adjust the snap sensitivity)

I create a 3mm circle which will be the hole in the Pendant. I drag another guide onto the screen. This guide is to centre the hole. I know the circle is 3mm so I set the dimensions for the guide 1.5mm off the center of the rectangle. This way when i position the circle on the guide it will be in the middle of the rectangle.

I drag another guide which I set 2mm down from the top of the rectangle and then reposition the circle so it is on the guides.

Zoom out and group the circle and the rectangle.

Step 8: Tracing the butterfly

Picture of Tracing the butterfly
In this step, I'll show you how to trace over the image to create the shape of the butterflies.

Some of the terms I use may be unfamiliar, especially if you haven't used Inkscape before - but do not worry!

The video shows you what to do so you'll get to see what the terms mean. If you do want to become more familiar with some of the terms and concepts of vector graphic software, you can check out Inkscape's help manual.



Set up your drawing area
Use the magnifying glass to zoom in on part of the image.

Draw a rough shape
Select the pen tool and draw a rough outline over the top of the image.

I did this by drawing points along the outline of your image. I hold down the mouse button and and transform each point into bezier curves by dragging the handles that appear on each side. In the video, you'll see how I use these handles to edit the curves of the butterfly.

Refine your shape
With the shape roughly traced, go through and edit each bezier so the curve matches the curves of the butterfly.

Finishing your Shape
At this point it's easier to see how your finished butterfly will look if you remove the imported image from your drawing area. You can then make any additional tweaks.

Step 9: Tiling to create a pattern

Picture of Tiling to create a pattern
Now I am going to create a pattern using the outline of the butterfly that I have just created.



Firstly I shrink the butterfly down. If you hold down 'ctrl' when you drag the corners, the butterfly will scale while keeping the width and height proportions the same. I then align the butterfly with a guide line so that i can create my pattern in a straight line.

I copy and paste the butterfly onto the page and rotate it 90 degrees. If you hold 'Ctrl" again it will rotate and snap to the common degree increments. I scale it so the width of the second butterfly is the same as the height of the first butterfly. I drag another guide onto the page to help me with this. I then position it where i think it will be good.

I paste another butterfly the same as the first onto the page and position it. I then copy and paste the second butterfly. I then rotate it 180 degrees and position it. I now have a series of 4 butterflies which will be the basis for my pattern.

I copy and paste the series of 4 and position it next to the first. I then copy and paste all 8 and line up along the guide lines. Now that i have the top line complete I group them all.

I copy and paste the top line. I use another guide as the reference for the left hand side and another i position in the middle of the top left butterfly. I am going to offset the pattern so this will help me do this.

Step 10: Changing line colors and widths

To make sure the laser-cutter cuts and engraves the right bits of the decoration, you'll need to change the colors and widths of the lines you've already drawn. To change the colors and widths you'll use the 'Fill and Stroke' dialog box which you open from the 'Object' menu.

Give the butterfly pattern an engraving color
Select the butterfly grouping with the pointer tool. Change the stroke color to Magenta (RGB, 255, 0, 255) and set the line width to 0.003mm.This tells our laser-cutter to engrave lightly into the surface.

Cutting out the Pendant
We can now tell the laser-cutter what parts we want to completely cut-out. Cutting lines need to be set to a stroke color of blue (RGB, 0, 0, 255). Set the line width to 0.003mm.

When you change the cutting lines to 0.003mm you may not be able to see them on your screen anymore. Don't worry, they are still there - if you zoom in you'll be able to see them.

Finally, group all your shapes together. To do this, select the outline of the bell, the hanging hole and the twinkle, then group them together (go to menu option: "Object > Group").

Step 11: Arrange on P1.svg

I arranged some pieces so they fit on a the P1 sized material. I'm going to make a few extras and vary aspects of the engraving so I can see how each of the different engraving options affects the result.

I'm trying both raster and vector engraving to see how each turns out.

For the raster engraving I have removed the stroke from the butterflies and then filled them with grey (RGB, 128, 128, 128). This tells our laser-cutter to engrave a medium depth into the surface.

Step 12: Creating a Ponoko-ready .eps file

Currently, Ponoko only accepts .eps files.

This means changing your P1.svg to a P1.eps. In Inkscape, this is an easy task.

Choose "Save As..." from the "File" menu. A dialog box appears (see image below). Change the name to "Jewelery". Now choose "Encapsulated Postscript (*.eps)." from the drop-down list.

Now click "Save". When the "Output" panel appears make sure the "Convert texts to paths" tickbox is ticked, then click "OK".

Step 13: Uploading .eps files to Ponoko

Your files are ready to now upload to Ponoko!

1. If you've already got a MyPonoko account - then log in . If not, sign up for an account.

2. Once in MyPonoko, click on "Make a new design" in the side bar. When the page loads, click on "Add a new design."

3. To upload your files click on "Select a design" and then choose or browse for your design file on your computer.

4. If you want to upload more than one design file, click the "Select a design" button and repeat step 3 as necessary.

5. If you have any trouble uploading your file, head over to the forum.

6. Click "Done"

Note: Leave MyPonoko open, you'll need it open for the next few steps.

The images below show this process in detail.

Step 14: Choosing materials

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It's time to choose a material.

While still in MyPonoko, click on the "Show me the material catalog first" button or follow this link.

By browsing through the Ponoko materials catalog you can compare materials and decide which is best for you.

Because these designs are simple 2D shapes they can be made from almost any material in the Ponoko catalog.

I decided to use White Acrylic so the Ink, when rubbed into the engraving, will contrast nicely and look good.

Note: Remember to leave MyPonoko open, you'll need it open for the next few steps.

Step 15: Adding materials to your .eps files

Once you've made a choice, select your material for each file.

Go back to your MyPonoko account and click the "Yes" button under the 'Would you like to add materials now?" question.

You'll then need to choose from the drop-down list.

I chose:
> Type: Plastic
> Color: Acrylic - White
> Thickness: 0.12 inches
> Sheet size: 7.1 inches wide x 7.1 inches long

If you measure in mm:
> Type: Plastic
> Color: Acrylic - White
> Thickness: 3.0mm
> Sheet size: 181 mm long x 181mm wide

To confirm your material choice, click the "Add this material" button.

Note: Leave MyPonoko open, you'll need it open for one final step :)

Step 16: Make your Jewellery

The final step in MyPonoko is to make your jewelry.

Click the "Make it" button to start making.

The first screen confirms the details of your order as well as showing the costs so far. Click "Step 2" and then follow the making steps:

1. Add shipping address
2. Add billing address
3. Review and confirm
4. Add payment details
5. And we're done.

Now you just have to wait for your laser-cut parts to be delivered!

Step 17: Laser-cutting...

So what happens between the time you make your order to when your parcel leaves PonokoHQ? A few people asked how the laser-cutter works its magic, see my previous instructable to see a video of the laser cutter in action.

Step 18: Inking the engraving

The laser cut parts will come with a paper backing on them. It is a good idea to leave it on to keep the back as clean as possible.

Cover the laser cut part in ink. Use circular brush strokes to work it into the engraving.

Using the rag, wipe of the excess. Some ink should stay in the engraving and the rest should wipe off easily. Sometimes it may take a few goes to work the ink in to a suitable level.

Step 19: Adding jump rings and earring hooks

Firstly make sure all backing paper is removed from the laser cut parts before attaching any of the jump rings.

Using the pliers, separate the ends of the jump ring so you can feed it through the hole.

Thread the Earring Hook onto the Jump ring as well taking care to face the start of the hook to the back of the earring.

Close the jump ring back up with the pliers. You may find that you need to tweak the earring hook so that it sits correctly.

And now? Wrap them up in a small present box complete with ribbon, and give them to your significant other on Valentine's Day!

If you'd like download the .eps files I created with these designs. It also has some images of the jewelery made from some other materials and some different types of engraving.
You should definitely be careful about using images off the internet and make sure any image used is under a permissive license (creative commons would be lovely). Otherwise, you run the risk of creative an unauthorized derivative work and setting yourself up for a copyright infringement suit (not fun). There may be some fair use arguments but that's a very narrow defense, especially on commercial products (even if relying upon a small amount of a copyrighted work).
I had no idea this was even possible. It looks pricey, but I'm glad I know about this! Thanks!
dimovi4 years ago
That would look great laser cut out of cherry from CutYourWay.com
I just used these guys. Excellent work and incredibly quick turn around
douks3 years ago
were can i find a laser cutter because it does't Exict were i live

And those who have it braught it from out the Country and it Costs more than 2000 Euro
thepelton3 years ago
There are disks full of copyright free images that you can use any way you want. I found them at the local bookstore.
hennahonu4 years ago
Which engraving style did you end up inking? Was it the raster or vector? What depth?
jhorvath5 years ago
Ponoko is awesome and if we had the capital we'd sign on with them. In the meantime, check in your area for shops like ours that offer laser cutting/marking services. Also lots of awards and trophy shops have lasers and might be willing to cut your stuff.
volquete5 years ago
ponoko is a great site, but if you're buying, it's expensive because of shipping from new-zealand to America. but, it's still great for selling!
KoLAddict6 years ago
I'm having a hard time getting the ink to go into the engravings, instead, it prefers to go in the spaces in between shapes. also, the acrylic on the front isn't smooth, so I guess that's why.
danemery (author)  KoLAddict6 years ago
What type of ink are you using? Did you make the same design as was in the Instructable or was it your own design? Perhaps it might work if you let it dry a little before rubbing it off.
I'm using waterproof ink, on a different design, but the front wasn't flat acrylic, it was kind of scored.
KoLAddict6 years ago
how do you make the guides on the top and left sides measure in millimetres? they only measure in pixels for me.
danemery (author)  KoLAddict6 years ago
When you create a guide you double click on it to bring up the editing window. There is a little drop down box on the right which will allow you to change the guide units to mm.
Gonazar6 years ago
Great instructable! What kind of ink are you using?
ERNesbitt6 years ago
What a wonderful service! If you don't mind my asking, approximately how much was the cost for the laser cutting?
2nd picture on Step 15 shows the cost: $3.13 to cut $2.21 for materials Now, that's just what I see, so maybe there were other costs (like shipping) to figure in. Hope that helps! :0)
danemery (author)  PerfectlySquare6 years ago
Yep PerfectlySquare is right. Thanks for that. Shipping is additional and differs depending on where you live. It may be good to note that the eps file contains 3 pendants and 3 sets of earrings so that works out less than $1 each.
Be warned though.... while this service is MAKE-tacular, to my knowledge they don't have a facility in North America yet. That unfortunately means that larger stuff you can make can be cost prohibitive to the average weekend tinkerer in regards to shipping expense, since they're based out of New Zealand. For example, the lamp instructable linked in Step one apparently cost over 60 dollars to ship. They do have plans to get a North American location though, and you can see Dan's comments on the lamp Instructable for more details. (Is it here yet? Is it here yet? Is it here yet?) I have to admit though, given how reasonable the price of materials and cutting are; once these guys get over the shipping hump, they will no doubt EXPLODE with business. (Makes me wish I had some venture capital lying around. Sadly, I don't even have Mountain Dew money.) On the bright side...if you were looking for an excuse to experience the natural beauty of New Zealand, this is it!
danemery (author)  PerfectlySquare6 years ago
We are so close its painful. I can't give you an exact date but I can tell you we have ordered a machine. We have also had some developments on the cheaper shipping front which we cant wait to roll out. Make sure you have signed up to our newsletter so you get the info on this as soon as we release it.
*signs up* And thanks for the update. I am a BIG believer in this service and what it can do for artists and makers, so it's great to hear you guys are close. Best of luck, and I'm sure I'm just one of many chomping at the bit!
WOW! AWESOME INSTRUCTABLE! Very very detailed, GREAT pictures, GREAT videos, this Instructable is just AWESOME! Nice job, I hope to see more great Instructables such as this, this one is really good. Nice job again, +1 rating. (added to favorites)
Kiteman6 years ago
>doh<

I still have a Ponoko project on my to-do list!

Dan, i will eventually get back to you!
danemery (author)  Kiteman6 years ago
Sound great!
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Awesome! I can't wait to make my laser cutter now!
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