Introduction: The Sport of Laser Cutting

Here at Riverpoint Academy, we have some pretty cool machinery free to use for all students, such as 3D printers, and we have the tools to make whatever a student wants. One of the most popular machines here are the laser cutters. Laser cutters allow you to create intricate designs to be cut with "laser" precision on materials like wood, metal, and acrylic. This Instructables will take you on a simple step-by-step journey to making anything you want using laser cutters.

Step 1: Some Programs You'll Need...

In order to make something, you're going to need two programs on your computer. The first one you'll need is SketchUp, which can be downloaded at their website

Step 2: SketchUp

The first actual step toward laser cutting at Riverpoint Academy is with this program, "SketchUp". SketchUp allows people to create 3D objects in a simple and easy to use manner.

Step 3: Blank Slate

This is the screen you'll see at the start. The person there is just reference for size. The tool bar has options up there to make anything you want. Make sure to take a minute and try them all out! If you're having trouble figuring it out, this should help you with learning some of the tools!

Step 4: Cool Design!

Great, you've create something! Hopefully you've created something a little cooler than this. . . Make sure to save and remember where (I recommend you save it to "desktop" for now) you saved your work!

Step 5: 123d Make

The other important program is 123d Make. 123d Make is another 3D modeling program, but the important thing about this one is it can turn your creation into a format that is easy to laser cut!

Step 6: Importing

Now you can import whatever you made on SketchUp by clicking on "Import" and finding the correct file. Since my creation wasn't as cool as yours, I think I'll just use one of the many example objects they have!

Step 7: The Fun Begins...

So now we have the thing open on 123d Make. Next, find the option on the left called "Construction Technique". There are a couple of cool options here, like stacked slices, or even interlocking slices! For now, I'll choose "Stacked Slices".

Step 8: Exporting

So, now we have the object in a format that will be easy for the laser cutter! The next step is once again saving the file. This time, however, you have to make sure to save it as a compatible file type. You'll have to check the computer hooked up to the laser cutting machine for that one! Once that's done, you can move the file to the proper computer that's hooked up to the laser cutting machine!

Step 9: LASER!

Once you've sent the file over and have your material securely placed in the machine, press start and watch sparks fly (Literally)!

Step 10: Congrats!

Once the laser is done cutting, you can pull the material out of the machine (carefully) and begin assembling! After this, you can officially consider yourself a master of lasers!