One of the greatest problems with moving into a new office is coming up with a clever name for your new work area. The second greatest problem is letting everyone outside of your team know what your clever name is.
Two months after moving into our new lab, Mt. Aetna, no one outside our team knows our awesome room name. It was affectionately known to outsiders as "that room on the end past the 3D printers but before the robots."
In order to let everyone know that we're really good at naming things, a team member and I decided to make a sign to go above the badge scanner to our room.
We drew inspiration from the summit plaques we've seen on top of Colorado peaks and converted that style into a stacked 2D sign with all of the pertinent information for our peak. Located on the second floor of a building directly over the San Francisco Bay, we are sitting at a lofty 22 ft.
Step 1: Materials Needed
- 1/8" Wood
- 1/8" White acrylic
- 1/8" Transparent orange acrylic
- Wood glue
- Super glue
- Command strips
- Cherry stain
- Stain rag/ brush
- Epilog Laser Cutter
- Autodesk Inventor
Step 2: Create DXFs
Starting in Inventor, I created a 3D model of the multiple stacked layers. The outline of the mountain was sketched from an image of Mt. Aetna in Italy and the border was derived from an image of a summit plaque found on Google.
Once the parts were designed, each was exported into AutoCAD using the Project Cut Edges command and Export Sketch As. . . option.
Step 3: Laser Cut
Cut on the Epilog laser cutters at Pier 9. I was able to cut and raster all the pieces in under an hour.
The part that took the longest to laser cut was the textured mountain. The pattern was created with an image of Mt. Aetna's terrain that was modified in Gimp and converted into vector lines.
It's also important to mention that the piece on the far right, the background piece, was supposed to be a solid circle, but I messed up the raster on my first cut of the mountain and found that I could flip and rotate the part to be a background.
Step 4: Stain
Using a rag, cherry stain, and a well-ventilated room. I decided to stain the pieces to add a little class to them. It also makes them look less laser-cut and more professionally constructed.
Step 5: Stain the Acrylic
After staining the pieces, I realized the white acrylic was blinding in comparison.
To fix this, I scratched up the surface with fine sandpaper and applied the same cherry stain to the acrylic. If you decide to replicate this step, remember to be careful with the stain and spread it thin and even. It's also good to know that it takes quite a while to dry, so be careful touching it.
Step 6: Glue
Once all the pieces are stained, a healthy dose of wood glue holds the majority of pieces together.
Hint: the pieces that go together well with wood glue are made of wood.
To attach the acrylic to the wood, a nice perimeter of super glue was applied.
Step 7: Mount
Once assembled and dry, I used 5 small command strips to fasten the sign to the wall. No fancy tricks here, just put the sticky side on the plaque and the other sticky side on the wall.
It is now perfectly placed as a public service announcement to the rest of the office and a landmark to help weary travelers find their way home.
Step 8: Further Steps
To improve on this already spiffy design, I've come up with a few ideas.
- More layers. Let's go crazy and have depth and multiple mountain peaks.
- All wood. I used acrylic for variety, but I think an all wood plaque would look awesome too.
- National Park Signs. I love signs at parks and forests. I may try this layered approach on them.