Technical Uses for Lasers

I just wanted to show some of the less artistic things you can do with a laser. Having the ability to draw something in CAD, and then have the laser cut it out to absurd precision can help with random projects like this one. This is my 2008 senior EE project at Clemson.

The challenge was to make a hard drive that physically reads and writes data onto play-doh. It writes with a dot matrix print head we tore out of an old printer and reads the data back with a digital camera that is interpreted in MatLab.

We also realized that since we were just sending the data to the play-doh hard drive in matrix form, we could draw black and white pictures with it, so this video shows us printing a Clemson paw. Also, acrylic is very easy to tap for screw holes, so it is a fun and easy material to work with.


Pretty sure that’s how my old Commodore 64 stored its data. Either that or my kid shoved some play-doh into my floppy drive.


What did you cut the case for your machine with?

We should print the internet onto clay tablets and preserve our wisdom for a 1,000 years!


It was just a small desktop laser that Clemson had in the basement. I think it was an Epilog. All the talk from Dan about how annoying it is to align things on an standard laser, when the only tool is that little red laser is right on the money. The camera alignment system makes so much sense, and was my main reason to purchase (and the price point).


Yeah, our project was kind of Abe Lincoln themed, so our main piece of test data was the entire Gettysburg address which fit on about 3/4 of that little sheet of play-doh .


So what is the binary information density of the GF ? :wink::vulcan_salute:

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Ha, from my back of the envelope calculation I’m going with ~4Kb/square inch.

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