Intro: Steel Lamps
Mild Steel Lamps - I made them at TechShop Menlo Park!
Illustrator - for file preparation
Steel - I ended up with 18 gauge mild steel in 4' x 5' sheets. As this was my first CNC plasma experience I elected to buy extra for
CNC Plasma Cutter - cause you know you wanna!
Slip Roller - this was an aesthetic decision since I am not great at welding
I saw a lamp online - image included. Although my lamps came out very differently and much less complex.
Create a 2D image in Illustrator. Since I was going to use the slip roller I created a document that was rectangle and made vector lines for the cut lines. The thing I was most intrigued about with my inspiration was the pieces that are connected to the lamp, but bend and weave throughout. This is done by making sure your vector lines do not cross so the pieces will never be fully cut off. Also take note that lines placed too close together may not cut properly. Don't forget you are plasma cutting - things get very hot and can melt. I found a 1/4" to be some of the closest cuts I was able to make.
Take your design to TechShop! Make sure you take the Plasma Cutter Safety Course! This course will teach you the proper way to use the machine. Ok, now you have a membership and have taken the safety class and have scheduled plasma time. For some strange reason the Laser Cutter at Techshop seems to be much more popular than Plasma so I never had any issues with scheduling and could pretty much use it whenever I wanted - though it is wise to check the schedule just in case.
PLASMA!!! No, not yet - don't get ahead of yourself. You should come earlier than your scheduled cutting time so you can run through the digital process of getting your files plasma ready. It has been awhile since I was at TechShop Menlo Park using the Plasma Cutter so be sure to follow whatever guidelines you learned during your course - or ask a Dream Consultant. Open your Illustrator file in Corel Draw - if you have Corel at home and have done this already - good for you. Convert to Corel. Now you are ready to boot up the machine connected to the plasma cutter. Import your file there to the software and make sure all your lines are where they should be and that the starting point is in the correct location. You can change the settings in the software or in the G-Code. I chose the bottom left corner and had it finish in the bottom right corner. Optimization here will save you material and headaches since you will have less heat passing over parts of your design that may be fragile and easier to melt too much. Because I am not sure the type of metal you chose - please refer to the guide (provided with use of the machine) for speed and depth to make sure you are getting the cleanest cut possible. If everything is in order you are ready to PLASMA CUT!!!
Run the machine and watch it the entire time (wearing the appropriate eye gear) to be sure it is cutting in the desired fashion and to make sure some dumb ass doesn't come stick their hand in the way etc.
Turn off the machine. Carefully remove the pieces using using gloves or some other material so you do not burn yourself - dip in water to cool if desired.
Use the slip roller to shape the lamp into a cylinder. You may need some extra hands for this.
Create a light source. Personally I chose to have a saki party and used the empty bottles to attach light fixtures that I bought at the hardware store. I also chose to use Red, Green, and Blue lights to signify the digitally born nature of my lamps. The bulbs in mine are 45 watt.
Turn them on and enjoy! Mine work best placed in a corner where they can project onto both walls.