Learning to laser cut — a collective journey


So cool! Which version of Inkscape did you use with the plugin in the end?


I used version 0.91, @emma, because that’s what the web forum mentioned. However, after installing ok I concluded any version is probably fine. The problem I had was finding where to install extensions, which wasn’t explained correctly. In Windows, ‘extensions’ is a subdirectory of Program Files\Inkscape\Share rather than being directly below …\Inkscape.

The forum also explains how to install for Linux, but says “On Mac you’re on your own”.

Follow this link: http://wiki.lvl1.org/Inkscape_Extension_to_Render_a_Living_Hinge


Here’s an early MDF prototype for a lampshade. Ultimately, I’d like to cut one from plywood or coloured acrylic sheet. I started from a template I found online, then stretched the fin. I had a few tries at the slot widths before this which has very little play when assembled. The top & bottom of the fins need reducing to stop them fouling on each other.

I split the discs into a separate file, so the fins can be resized independently of these. Normally, I’d select ‘copys’ (yes, misspelt) on the laser-cutter PC to cut multiple fins from 1 shape, but this doesn’t work for nesting multiple convex/ concave shapes - ‘columns’ need to overlap, and a negative gap can’t be entered. So, I cut them 1 at a time, but will copy multiples in the input file when design is finalised.


The latest community request for help has come from Hebden Royd Town Council to make a stencil for their upcoming pumpkin festival. It took me a lot longer than I expected to come up with this:

The intention is to cut through everything apart from the text. Just discovered the event’s a bit more arty than I was expecting, so I may try for a slicker design yet! See: https://www.evensi.uk/the-great-pumpkin-festival-hebden-royd-town-council/219566643


Guy, so sorry I forgot! I was frazzled. Drop me an email if you’d still like any help on this.


Cut this spiral tonight, inspired by a weird bowl-like wooden trinket that @emma showed me, which seemed to have been hand cut. Her piece had pegs that could prop it open/ extended.


I’ve just submitted 4 laser-cut pictures for exhibition at Artsmill, starting 22nd November. The pictures are the top 4 from this page: http://www.guylymer.co.uk/laser-cutting

For details of the exhibition, see: http://artsmill.org/


Hi guy etc
I’m wondering if it might be possible to use /hire /give Donation to use the last cutter for the artts organisation I work for in Huddersfield, HOOT creative arts.?
The art group that I run have been asked to create a public sculpture for Greenhead Park. I wanted to potentially transfer their drawings of aquatic creatures and water onto small pieces of perspex and mdf
Please let me know if that’s any possibility of using laser cutter please _I had a few hours on it last year but don’t feel confident to use it solo, certainly not initially.


Yes, @sallyjbarker, I’m sure we can come to an arrangement. You could either rejoin temporarily & pay a membership fee, which will allow a few hours use a month, or for commercial work, we’d charge an hourly rate, which would be more expensive. Anyway, we can discuss.

What timescales are you working to? I can help refamiliarise you with the process/ machine.


Just managed to create my first 3D head prototype, by slotting together interlocked slices. This is 20cm tall piece in 3mm MDF. I plan to experiment with designs before scaling up (hopefully) to garden sculptures in painted plywood and coloured acrylic sheet.


I started from an example 3D head model in ‘Slicer for Fusion 360’ after downloading just Slicer (free add-in), rather than the full Fusion 360 software. The number & direction of slices may be varied, and moved around. I couldn’t scroll down the menu fully on my little laptop until I connected a wired mouse & used the scroll wheel. The software generates all the numbered slices & saves in DXF/ EPS/ PDF format. Due to problems loading DXF from there into Inkscape (yet to investigate properly), I saved as a multi-page PDF & loaded into Inkscape 1 page at a time, where I removed the rectangular page outline & re-saved.

On the laser-cutter, rather than cutting a full sheet of MDF at once, I cut only about 1/2 to 2/3 across the width in 1 go because @RichardC pointed out the mirrors are misaligned & it’s not cutting properly on the right side of the material bed.


That looks really good, Guy.


This is almost always due to the bed being not level, unless someone has fiddled with the mirrors, e.g. when cleaning them. Whenever it happens here after some investigation we find a small piece of material lodged under the bed, causing it to then not run true and the beam to defocus at one corner.

Could also soon be time to clean the optics if this has never been done — but worth reading up a bit first, so as to avoid unnecessary pain realigning things.


Thanks, @9600, but I did lift the material bed & check carefully for obstructions. @RichardC has checked mirror alignment, but isn’t confident firing lasers & trying to adjust. I did saw Chris, the HPC Laser installer, do it over a year ago, but can’t remember the operation. Maybe I’ll read up & try to adjust. I hadn’t thought about cleaning the optics, so maybe that’s something else to review . . . .


Thanks, @paul123. I also put a picture on the website front page. I’d like this updated more often, & not just by me, so that we show the creative & varied stuff happening there.


There should be the HPC booklet somewhere that has maintenance info.

Need cotton buds and isopropyl alcohol to clean the optics. To align the mirrors you place pieces of masking tape over one at a time, adjusting the preceding mirror in the beam path such that when you fire the burn mark is centred on the next mirror. It’s not that difficult, but do need to take care to not scratch the optics, as they will likely have some special coating.


Here’s a head made from ‘stacked slices’, using Slice for Fusion 360 - just the free add-in software, not the paid for ‘Fusion 360’ itself:-


Same head, just different construction methods - how weird . . . . ?



Here’s a 3rd form of construction: ‘curve’, on the right - it looks quite unusual, as someone said, “a bit Picasso-like”:


The others use ‘interlocking slices’ & ‘stacked slices’. Next, to start hollowing out a design for ‘stacked slices’ & producing in white acrylic . . . .


Lasercut samples from files downloaded from www.thingiverse.com


Prototype for a simple slotted shelf. Need to get the laser-cutter using the full material bed size to create anything a sensible size. For neatness, should probably round the corners on all the rectangles. Can vary lengths to create stepped asymmetric shape.


Starting to experiment with 3D pieces made from stacked slices. This 20cm female torso has slices stuck together, but kept as 2 separate sections. I aim to scale up in white acrylic sheet for garden sculpture. Issues to resolve include: direction of slices; thickness of shell (for construction strength & internal lighting); best material for internal illumination; intensity, type & position of light; joining multiple sections with ‘dowels’.

Several variants with diagonal slicing will probably be more interesting . . . . As with the head made from stacked slices, there’s an interesting contrast between unscorched MDF surfaces, and scorched edges. Maybe it’s worth making a large piece in plywood to repeat that effect? A large acrylic version may have a shorter base, but be displayed on top of a separate plinth.