When I saw this contest My first thought was that if I won the laser unit I could build a very unique gift/veteran display that I have been wanting to build for a while. Its made of etched glass or acrylic with wood top and bottom and lights up with led's.
I'm putting my idea into sketch up, grabbing pictures as i model the stages and render the final picture.
Step 1: Make The glass
draw a 5"x5" square and extrude 1o 1/8"
select all parts, add a translucent color, and make a component
select move and hold control, draw out the second plate, repeat till you have 5 plates for glass.
make each plate unique.
go to materials, on the translucent color u picked, make a copy for each branch of service.
on each new copy, replace the picture with the appropriate .jpg or .png you will be etching.
select each material in turn and apply to on of the glass plates.
Step 2: The shape
make a pentagon with 5 sides of 5"
stand up the plates and arrange them around the pentagon.
in sketch-up I added pictures to the 5 new glass materials to represent the etched glass.
Use rotation tool to stand each plate up. move each one to a corner of the pentagon.
rotate each plate to line up with a side of the pentagon and not overlap the pentagon.
remember to save often.
Step 3: The base
Its nice that sketch-up will export .stl files, so now I have the base model to mill the base from
using the original pentagon, make a copy even with the top of the plates.
i hid that one temporarily to make the next part easier.
using the concentric tool, make an 1/8" wider covering the glass, make another extend 1/2" past the glass. these will be your base of the base and end up being the slots for milling.
extrude the inside (original pentagon ) 1/8" in towards middle, extrude the outside the same, creating the slot. Extrude the outside down 3/8" creating an overall 1/2" thick wood. to close the base hole, select one line and erase it, the hole will auto fill. Now group the parts into a base component and add your favorite wood color. I used the 'round corners in 3d' plug-in to radius the top corners quickly.
Step 4: The Top
finally I create a top plate with 1/8" slots for the glass plates, a beveled edge, similar to a roof to cover the whole display. I add a wood finish and etch or engrave a POW-MIA flag into the top of it.
This top plate is identical to the bottom, so I mirrored it before doing the rounding so I could bevel the top edge using 'bevel edges in 3d' plug-in. I then added the Pow-Mia engraving to the top (worked on the Pow-Mia engraving separately) an etched Pow-Mia picture would also do nicely.
Step 5: Finished
the components are easily found on the internet meant for flashlights and such and very simple wiring diagrams are usually included.
The glass plates become 'lithographs' in that the etching lights up when back lite as if brighter than the rest and the drawing literally pops out at you. the rest of the glass is normal glass.
Anyway, this is what I would do with a laser cnc if I had one. I am a vietnam vet and proud of my service, and anyone else that has served, and like to show off my patriotism like this. It would also make a nice gift for any veteran, a retired vet like me would be proud to give.