Introduction: Instamorph Laser Cutter Add-ons
This instructable outlines two additions that have been made to the Bloominglabs Full Spectrum laser using Instamorph. Bloominglabs is a makerspace located in Bloomington, IN. It was the first makerspace established in Indiana, and Bloominglabs hosted Instamorph build nights in April thanks to Instamorph and Instructables.
The laser we have at Bloominglabs (a Full Spectrum Fifth Gen Hobby Laser) is excellent, but has a few annoying design elements that we've had physical hacks for since starting to use it around two years ago.
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Step 1: Materials and Processing
1. Instamorph (obviously)
2. Heat source (constant heat works much better than temporary heat, i.e. stove top > microwave)
3. Pot and water
4. Stir stick
5. cutting tool (scissors work really well for trimming warm instamorph)
6. smoothing tool (rolling pin type cylindrical object, we used a 1 inch dowel rod)
7. xacto knife for thin cuts
8. thin metal straight edge (aluminum ruler)
General Heating Guidelines
1. Fill pot with 1 - 2 inches of water
2. Turn burner on low. The water shouldn't get above 150 degrees, otherwise the instamorph can start sticking to the pot and it becomes too hot to handle.
3. Add instamorph
4. Instamorph becomes workable when it's clear. As it cools, it will turn opaque. It can be reheated at any time to regain malleability.
Step 2: Focus Storage
I've wanted something like this ever since I started playing with the laser: a specific location and storage for the laser focus. This addition makes it a lot harder to accidentally send the focus flying and it makes for a better reminder of where the focus should be stored.
1. Using about 1 - 2 oz of instamorph, start out forming a long rectangle with thicker at one end. An easy way to do this is to trim off excess from the sides and adding it to the top of the thicker end.
2. Warm, weld, repeat until the thicker end is a little wider than the focus.
3. Thoroughly heat the thicker end and start pressing the focus into the middle of it. You may need to rewarm the thicker end a couple times until you have made the pocket your desired depth. You may also have to add additional instamorph to the sides and the bottom edge where the newly formed pocket becomes thin.
4. After some use, I reheated the pocket to expand it slightly, so that it wasn't tight against the focus (it required two hands to remove the focus).
1. To thin and smooth the handle, use a rolling pin and trim the excess with scissors.
2. Place a cooled handle on the side of the laser cutter housing where you would like it sit and bend the remaining length over the side.
3. Warm the newly formed crease and hold the two ends together.
4. Cut any places that welded together with the xacto knife and test fit.
Step 3: Lid Slide
Another annoyance with the laser cutter was that the middle of the lid would catch on the back of the machine housing while closing, preventing the safety switch from engaging and thus not allow lasering. To fix this, a plastic tongue was created from instamorph to let the lid slide on as it closed.
1. Heat about 1 oz of instamorph.
2. Form a flat, oblong shape, leaving one end roughly twice as thick as the other.
3. The aluminum ruler worked well for splitting the thicker end into two legs, producing three legs of similar thickness, but with the two parallel legs slightly shorter than the third..
4. If the tongue needs to be made thinner, it can be rolled flatter by leaving the ruler between the legs. Any excess material can be trimmed using scissors.
5. Heat the two legs slightly and allow them to nearly come together. When it was about cool, an xacto knife was used to separate any places that bonded together.
6. Allow the instamorph to finish cooling before test fitting.
The tongue stays in place fairly well just friction fit.