Laser cutters allow us to manipulate material in ways that would be impossible or prohibitively time intensive using traditional approaches. There are a few different ways of using a laser (vector, raster, and color mapping to name a few). The results are highly accurate and finely detailed and while these technologies have been around for a couple of decades, only recently have they become accessible/affordable for individual artists and designers.
Emily Carr’s lasers can cut wood, plastic, paper, leather and rubber and provides a platform for exploring hybrid digital/material aesthetics. We’ll use Adobe Illustrator to interface with the laser cutter, so be sure to download illustrator before class and bring in your laptops, if possible.
The Laser Cutters at Emily Carr are located within the Digital Prototyping Lab. Access is granted to Emily Carr students, faculty and staff during posted hours and appointments for initial consultations are advised before commencing work. ECU has two Trotec Speedy 400 Lasers. They are excellent professional laser cutters that print directly from Adobe Illustrator files; the lasers can cut material as large as 39” long x 24” wide. There are some limitations on the thickness dimension and materials that can be lasered. There is a cost associated with laser cutting that is dependant on the time your project takes to cut.
Due 3.18 in class – 8 points
Using the laser cutter, hand tools, and a simple LED circuit or lightbulb circuit, create a light, light sculpture, or installation..
First, decide whether you’d like to make a piece that plugs into the wall (120V) or uses battery powered LEDs. Next, design your enclosure / light diffusion system. You could create an iterative design using the laser cutter and paper or cardboard, cut a back-lit design into wood or acrylic, or create a lighting enclosure. The electronics for this project should be fairly straight-forward and the focus will be primarily on designing the look of your light piece.
- Your project is completed on time at the beginning of class on 3.18. (3 points)
- Project demonstrates a basic understanding of digital fabrication processes and uses laser cutting or 3d printing in a creative way (3 points)
- Project pushes beyond basic explorations of light, to produce a light sculpture or installation that is a risk, or is visually / critically extraordinary. (2 points)
Some helpful links / materials
Lamp Cord + Socket
- Colorcord | very nice lamp cords with switches (pretty expensive unfortunately)
- Amazon | ugh, avoid amazon if at all possible, but you can see the assortment of cords available in the world, some with switches
Batteries + LEDs
- Cheap and easy! you can use watch batteries (2032) and LEDs
- 9V batteries will work to power multiple LEDs with a few resistors in the circuit.
For Materials and Supplies, check out our resources page!
Light-based Circuit Resources
- How to replace a lamp socket
- The simplest LED Circuit!
- A few more simple LED circuits
- Flashing LED circuit using a 555 timer IC
- How to Fade an LED – Arduino Tutorial
Fabrication Tutorials / Resources
Artists working with digital fabrication