Introduction: Laser Cut Business Card Holder - Made @ TechShop
I signed up to TechShop recently and have been playing with their super cool laser cutter. This business card holder is a simple project I made to get some practice in Illustrator, get more experience with the laser cutter, and test out a new airbrush that I bought not long ago. The required tools and materials for this project are as follows:
Adobe Illustrator with vector graphics software
1/8" Plywood (I used Baltic Birch)
Paint & Airbrush
The first step was to create the file in Illustrator. A standard business card is 3-1/2" wide x 2" tall so I made the first piece of the business card holder 4" wide x 3-3/8" tall to be slightly bigger than the business card in all directions. Then I made a smaller box the same thickness as the plywood (0.115") x half the width of the main piece (2"). I placed the smaller cutout portion on top of the larger piece and then selected the "Minus Front" button under the Pathfinder tool to create a cutout into the bigger piece. Then I used these same steps to create a shorter piece that will interlock with the larger piece after they're both cut out. The Illustrator file is attached although it certainly doesn't take much work to recreate my design or put your own spin on it.
*NOTE: The lines of the Illustrator file must be RGB red (#FF0000) and 0.001" thick in order for the laser cutter to interpret them as a cut path rather than an etch or engraving.
Once I was happy with my design in the Illustrator file, I "printed" it to the laser cutter and let the machine do the rest. Unfortunately, my original concept of having the larger piece interlock with a smaller piece was unbalanced and wouldn't stand up on its own. Therefore I chose to change the design by printing two of the larger pieces. This change worked out better than what I was originally thinking, and can actually be oriented a few different ways depending on your preference for how the holder will hold the business cards.
The last step for this project was to apply a coat of paint using my new Iwata airbrush which works almost effortlessly. I am very pleased with the final result, especially for how little time this project took to complete. The only improvement I may add in the future is a clear coat on top of the paint depending on how the surface wears over time.
I made it at TechShop (www.techshop.ws) which is such a cool place to hang out and learn new things. The whole place is great, but the laser cutters especially are addictively cool and the possibilities virtually endless. If you've never seen one in action before I highly recommend you stop by anytime for a free tour.