Disclaimer, This is not my original artwork. I copied it off a sign I saw, cannot remember where.
I had lots of ideas I wanted to accomplish with this piece.
- No more monkeys is a favorite song we sing with the grandkids. We consider it a classic. LOL
- I wanted something more colorful that you would usually get with just wood
- I wanted to experiment with kerf compensation and see how accurate the Glowforge is.
- Could the Glowforge cut HPL? This is the stuff used on countertops and office furniture desktops.
- What would the results be on a piece larger than the Glowforge could cut? Could I make a wall size mural for example?
- Would there be creep in the pieces and they would not fit up correctly? Meaning if each piece was off .010" would I be an 1" off at the end.
- I draw in Autocad. How could I get the Autocad vectors into the Glowforge UI?
Here is the finished piece. It is 19.4" diameter. Glued to a 1/2" piece of plywood. I still have to add the edge treatment, but that is unrelated to my experiments here.
All in all, it came out great. The obvious mistake I made it the background cut between the 2 pieces. I simply sliced the round in 1/2 to get my pieces small enough to fit on the Glowforge bed. After I cut the parts (and used up all my laminate) I realized that I could have easily disguised the joint line by using the contour of the mating parts.Doh!!! Mental note for next project.
This piece gives me ideas about large scale murals using the Glowforge and HPL to create a durable, cleanable surface. Maybe not for outside use, but interior vertical surfaces for sure.
The HPL cut perfectly. The only issues that I had were: The laminate does not lay flat. It has a curl to it. It is important to get this flat to the laser bed to get good consistent cuts. I did not have strong enough magnets so I used steel bars to hold down the HPL. The cut edges create a dirty, sooty edge that gets everywhere and needs to be cleaned off. This took more time than I thought.
In Autocad, I traced the artwork using splines and ellipses. This is very meticulous work and has to be done carefully. All lines must be trimmed to another line or spline. This piece has 5 colors so I had to make 5 copies of it and separate the artwork by each color. For example, I copied out all the leaves and deleted everything else. I joined the splines together making a contiguous path. From experiments I made earlier, I knew my kerf was .006" so I offset the leaf contour .003" to the outside. deleted the original line and saved the file as a version R13 DXF. If I had inside cuts, I drew those in a different color so I could make sure the Glowforge cut those first.
I opened the file in Inkscape, changed the document size to 20" x 10.5" and saved a copy as a SVG file. This loaded into the GUI and ready to print.
The accuracy of the Glowforge was very acceptable. I was very happy with the fit up all around.
An interesting thing I learned is not only the points I made above but lots of stuff about planning the artwork so you can successfully cut it. The Glowforge has no problem cutting .005" wide strips of material, but you cannot physically handle these pieces without them breaking. Also, tiny pieces fall down into the honeycomb, are hard to find, and generally don’t add anything to the final product, so I would recommend avoiding them if possible.
Also, the eyes, nose,and mouth on the monkey are engraves. I tried scores but they were not very visible in final piece
I experimented with dyed veneers originally but decided for a children’s piece that bolder colors looked better. Notice my homemade masking on the HPL. this is very important to avoid an ugly haze around the perimeter of the cut.