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Litchee Academy helps teachers bring STEAM projects to their classrooms. These instructions focus on giving teachers tips and tricks for classroom experiences. You can find our makerspace at litchee.cn

Materials:
1 computer per student with mouse

Internet connection

Inkscape software (free, Inkscape.org)

1 notebook per student

Some various color papers, tapes, markers, or paints

Laser Cutter

Step 1: Create Your Art

Whether a download or a personal drawing, we need something to put on front of the notebook!

If you draw in Inkscape, just use black and white lines and in the end the laser will trace them out.

If you download something, a black and white picture will be the easiest. Paste it into Inkscape, make sure it's selected, then go to Path / Trace Bitmap, to convert the picture to vector art (tip: after the trace, you have 2 copies, the original and the vector trace, delete the original).

After you like how your art looks, go to File / Save As, and select the .dxf filetype. This is a good format for laser cutters, XY plotters, and other machines.

Step 2: Test Your Design!

Cut your design out on regular paper, make a stencil. Then color in the empty spots with a marker.

If everything comes out like expected, you can move onto the notebook.

Common problems:

- the stencil breaks because pieces are too thin, and you need to go back to Inkscape to widen some pieces.

- some pieces are cut out of the stencil, because they are not connected to the main body.

- it just doesn't quite look like you expected!

teachers: I encourage you to let the students test and fail, rather than insisting they fix errors that you see before they test. This is a luxury of time, so you decide how much to follow this advice.

Step 3: Cut It Out!

Open up your notebook and cut only the front cover. Here, I tried plastic and thick paper. I used an 80w laser set to about 70% power. Actually, we ruined one plastic notebook first while testing! Try to have some backups.

The Zebra notebook, we added stripes of colored paper behind it using double sided tape.

The tank we put a piece of black paper behind it, using regular cellophane to tape the edges.

Step 4: Inspire!

Don't forget to have everyone take pictures to share their work with friends, family, and/or the internet!

<p>Hi, how do you make this without the smoke marks ? I did one and it had smoke marks on it even though it was masked. thanks</p>
It has to do with the speed, power, and focus of the laser. For my machine, the focus is best at a distance of 5.5-6mm. That's one of the most important settings. <br>Next, I have a 80watt laser, and I set it to 75% power, and a speed of 60mm/second.<br><br>It will vary from machine to machine - the best way is to get a piece of test material and try different combinations. I generally start with a power of around 75% and try to set the speed from there, but it will depend on your machine.<br><br>Also, it changes based on the materials used. Try not to do anything that contains PVC. It's not healthy, and also leaves ugly smoke marks.

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Bio: Litchee Lab is a makerspace for adults and students. Technology entrepreneurs, industrial designers, and hobbyists all share our small space in Shenzhen, China. Being at ... More »
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