Introduction: Laser Cut Wood and Plastic Medallion
The goal is to make a medallion with plastic foreground and wood background of any image you want. The medallion is just an object laser cut and combined with two different material that serves as decoration made from any object or picture you want. The idea of this tutorial is to go through the illustrator aspect that turns that image into what you want and then how to physically make it.
We are going to cover:
1. Tools and skills needed
2. Basics of Illustrator Tutorial
3. An example of making my medallion of the GSW Logo
Step 1: What You Need to Get Started
This summaries the base items you need because you can add anything you like to change and improve this process. It is great to see others use different materials (instead of plastic and acrylic) and combine into more complex shapes (then the regular flat circle coin that mine is).
What you need:
1. Laser cutter (strong enough to cut .25 inch wood)
Make sure you know the limitation of your laser cutter and contact manufacturer if unsure
2. Wood sheet (.25 inch thick recommended)
From any hardware supplier, but make sure plywood does not off-gas harmful chemicals
3. Acrylic sheet (.125 inch recommended)
Many types of plastic may look like acrylic but they may not be laser cuttable (Polycarbonate and ABS creates very harmful elements)
4. Image file
Just find a file you like that you want to make!
5. Editing software (prefer illustrator)
This depends on what files your software for laser cutter accepts
6. Epoxy glue to adhere
Local Hardware wtore will have this stuff, make sure to avoid getting on your hands
Step 2: Getting Illustrator for Image You Want
This is a condensed step by step explanation of how to use Illustrator to manipulate your image. Use the picture for reference to guide your use of illustrator.
1. Find image you like online or elsewhere.
2. Move image to illustrator
3. Use "Image Trace" with expand using outlines to get the lines to cut.
4. Get rid of the artifacts and features you dont want
5. Add a circle.of the size you want the piece to be and scale your image inside of it
The front piece will be acrylic and the image chosen will be raster (in this case the 'Strength in numbers') and the back piece will be wood and it will be cut out (I chose the logo of GSW).
Step 3: Laser Cutting
This part will involve using a laser cutter to get the file into the physical thing! In my makerspace, I have access to a Universal Laser System with 48” by 24” bed size for cutting. Please be advised that you may have access to a different Laser system and should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using it (could be different software, allowable material, depth allowed to cut).
Some General Laser Tips:
1. Always measure your material exactly with a calliper
2. Make sure you have the proper exhaust system to handle the fumes created by cutting
3. These items are almost always banned for the fumes they produce
PVC, ABS, Polycarbonate (You may confuse with acrylic)
4. Do not try to cut materials thicker than allowable
5. Always get the proper authority to check that you are capable to operate
Step 4: Assembly
Epoxy is a brand glue that is very useful in assembly of different material together. Please use the glue most appropriate for your materials as some are used for different material and different strength application. You should definitely find these at your local hardware store (Ace, Home Depot, Lowe's...) and if not, here is an Amazon link: (https://www.amazon.com/Loctite-Epoxy-0-85-Fluid-Sy... An .85 fluid ounce should be enough for applying.
Tips on applying epoxy:
1. Read all instruction including set times
2. Follow all instructions and safety precautions
3. Strongly conside the use of respirator, rubber gloves and eyewear
4. Use wax paper to cover work area
5. Dust can ruin the finish so cover it with a box
6. Use a little bit at a time, small amounts is enough to glue most surfaces
7. A blow dryer is great to get rid of air bubbles when its in a cup