This project was inspired by me wanting to create some competition within my team to see who could achieve the highest customer satisfaction score each previous week. What I was wanting was a simple floating trophy that would allow the winning team member to bask in the fact that they were amazing for that week.
As you will see these are easy and quick to make, as well as easy to modify for any competition or award.
Step 1: Materials, Tools & Software
Step 2: I Am Amazing Trophy
Using LibreCAD (Open-source 2D CAD software), I created the basic trophy shapes i.e. the base and the upright part.
When designing interlocking parts for laser-cutting, if you want the fit to be tight, you need to take the laser kerf into account i.e. the amount of material that is lost in the process as a result of being vapourised. For my 6mm acrylic this turned out to be about 0.2mm. In order to keep the slot-fitting tight I therefore shortened the length and breadth of the rectangular slot in the base by 0.1mm on each side i.e. the width and breadth were each shortened by a total of 0.2mm. I achieved this by initially drawing the rectangular hole to the exact size and then using parallel offsets 0f 0.1mm to reduce it. Doing it this way meant that its position was not altered when reducing the dimensions.
Just for completeness, I contracted the star using the following tutorial.
From LibreCAD I exported the image to a SVG.
The SVG was then opened in Inkscape and edited there. While this is not intended to be an Inkscape tutorial, I will list the main things that I did so that if necessary you can google for tutorials on how to complete each step.
Using "edit the paths by nodes" I was able to break the SVG up into logical groups, placing each group in it's own "Layer". Lines that were going to be cut where changed to RBG red, engraved to RBG black and etched (i.e. just an outline) to RBG blue. For laser cutting purposes the lines need to 0.001mm but Inkscape can't display them this thin. I therefore only reduced them once I had completed all editing and was ready to print.
From experience I have fond that fonts don't always display correctly once sent to the laser cutter. I therefore convert these to a path using "Object to Path". Having said that the same also applies to any automatic shapes that you might use e.g. squares, circles, stars etc.
The two zip files attached to this page are the fonts that I used for this trophy.
Because I appear to have guessed the correct kerf value for my material, the upright fitted tightly in to the base and acrylic cement was not required to hold the two together.
The trophy parts took under 6 minutes to cut.
Step 3: The Sky Is the Limit
After completing the trophy I realised that I would a simple task to modify it to suite any competition or reward.
All that is needed is for the text to be changed (not done in these examples) so something appropriate and the top of the upright altered to suite the desired activity (as shown in these examples).
JPG or PNG images can be converted to SVGs using "Trace bitmap" under the "Path" menu.
The new Inkscape skill that I learnt while investigating this project, was creating an offset path. This is best explained by referencing the soccer trophy.
For the soccer player I could have set its outline to RGB red and simply cut it out right on its edge but I wanted a clear acrylic border between the image and the cut i.e. I needed the red border to be offset from the soccer play. The following steps give an overview of how I achieved this:
- Made a copy of the soccer player and soccer ball.
- With both items selected (and not grouped), they were combined using "Union" under the "Path" menu.
- The fill was removed and the stroke changed to RBG red.
- With the object selected, "Dynamic offset" was selected from the "Path" menu.
- The displayed node was then dragged to the desired offset size.
- In my case I then needed to remove some extra nodes ("Edit path by nodes")
- Using the "Align" tool, the offset outline was then centre aligned with the original image (the grouped soccer player and soccer ball).
In short this was a simple and rewarding project.
Step 4: Final Comment
It turns out that not all 6mm acrylic is actually 6mm. As a result, even though I used acrylic labelled as 6mm when I came to assemble the trophies, some of them fitted tightly and some needed acrylic cement to hold them together.
It therefore pays to measure the actual thickness of your acrylic with a vernier and then record the kerf adjustment that you used with this exact thickness, making adjustments until, for that sheet, the pieces fit tightly together. Recording the details should help you to more quickly determine what the kerf adjustment should be for future cuts of for a particular thickness.