I was tasked with creating a more efficient, reusable base setup and came up with a laser engraved ¼” thick acrylic sheet. We wanted a certain amount of surface roughness for the raft to adhere to, but a dissimilar material so the ABS would not weld to the base. I experimented a little with simply sanding the surface, but could not get quite the right amount of roughness. A laser cutter not only gives the perfect surface texture for the bases, but also will automatically cut out the exact dimensions for the full base plate. I also tried both 1/8” sheet, but it warps a little due to the heat from the base and the nozzle while ¼” stays much flatter. Finally, the acrylic bases are infinitely reusable. Once it has been well used and is marked up from all of the rafts, you can simply put the plate back in the laser cutter, re-engrave the surface and it will be back to good as new.
This Instructable was written for Inkscape on Windows 7 and Epilog Mini 35 laser cutters, but a similar procedure could be followed for any vector graphics suite and laser cutter.
Step 1: Draw the Plates in Inkscape
B – Drawing the Baseplate’s Outline – Draw a rectangle by clicking on the “Create rectangles and squares” tool on the left toolbar, then clicking and dragging across your canvas (Do not worry about the size, placement, color or outline of your rectangle; we will modify all of those parameters.) Switch from the “Create rectangles and squares” tool to the “Select and transform objects” tool. The horizontal toolbar directly above your canvas will switch from “Change: W [#] H [#]….” to A series of icons and four numerical input fields labeled “X,” “Y,” “W,” and “H.” X and Y dictate the location of the object while W and H dictate the width and height of the object. A dropdown box indicating units sits to the right of the H field, by default this is set to “px” (pixels.) Change it to “in,” (inches) then set both the width and height of your rectangle to 5.50 (the Up! has a 5.5" square base.)