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Tools and Materials for Laser Cutting

Here is a complete list of tools, materials, and services that will help you follow along with the class.


Software

Autodesk Fusion 360 (free)

This is a powerful 3D modeling platform that's easy to learn but has endless potential. With it, you can design complex 3D objects for practically any kind of fabrication, digital or otherwise.

Click here to sign up for free as a Hobbyist / Enthusiast / Startup or as a Student or Educator.

  1. Follow one of the links above to download the app (don't use the App Store on Mac).
  2. Enter your email and download the free trial.
  3. Install and setup a free Autodesk ID account.
  4. When you open Fusion, select the Trial Counter in the upper toolbar (it tells you how many days are left on your trial).
  5. In the next dialog box, select "Register for Free Use".
  6. Sign up as a Start-Up or Enthusiast (Free). You can also Sign up as a Student or Educator (Free) if you're a student or educator at a registered institution.
  7. Select the "I accept Terms and Conditions" checkbox and click Submit.

A browser-only version is in the works, but hasn't been released yet. It's in beta right now, but check this link after November 15 for an announcement about a release date: Project Leopard


Laser Cutter (Optional)

The Epilog Legend 36EXT is the laser cutter model we have in the Pier 9 Workshop. This is a 120 Watt laser that requires 220V power and it costs about $30K, so it's hardly prosumer grade, let alone hobbyist grade. That being said, I find that this machine is commonly owned by maker spaces. Its operation and material choices are representative of most laser cutters within this price range from other companies.

There is a pretty wide array of options for laser cutters, from $200 DIY machines to the $250K Mmtabeam. Unless you want to get into laser cutting simply for engraving, I wouldn't bother with the low cost / low power machines.


Service Bureaus

If you don't have access to a professional grade laser cutter at a makerspace, I would recommend getting your parts cut by Ponoko. They're affordable, fast, and do high quality work. They have a wide range of materials including wood, plastic, paper, leather, and bamboo to name a few. Please note that they're located in the US and international shipping can be expensive. Their interface is easy, and you can even sell your projects through their site.

Pololu is another Service Bureau option. They're international, have high quality results, and are affordable. This is a great option if you're outside the US.


Other Things

In this class, we'll cover the Epilog laser cutter to demonstrate the operations, but any one of the lessons can be done through Ponoko. Ponoko has another added benefit: you don't have to clean up your parts and you're pretty much guaranteed to get perfect results every time.

Here are the other tools and materials we'll be using for this class:

1/8" (3mm) plywood($7): We'll use this for the Tissue Box and the Puzzle. The link is for a 24" X 30" (610mm X 762mm) piece, which should be enough to do both of the projects. Remember that the laser bed is 24" X 36" (610mm X 915mm), so it's probably worth it to find a local source and get some pieces that are full-size.

1/4" (6mm) plywood ($8): We'll use this material for the Smart Phone Stand and the Lamp. The link is for a 24" X 30" (610mm X 762mm) piece. Remember to always order extras in case you mess up!

6" Painter's Tape ($50): This will save you loads of time and frustration down the road. It's the quickest way to mask your material and prevent it from getting soot stains, which will make your life much easier. Trust me, it's worth the money!

Digital Calipers ($9): Every maker needs a pair of these. They make it easy to measure complex objects. We'll be using them for the Smart Phone Stand project.

Ikea Lamp Cord Set ($6): You'll need this for the final lesson. Just about any cord set will do, but you'll need to measure your own if you go with another cord set.

CLASS PROJECT

Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project