Archive for the ‘techshop’ Category

Eighth-inch acrylic, cut on Epilog One

Eighth-inch acrylic, cut on Epilog One

This prototype, with accurate info but messed-up kerning, was created Saturday at TechShop on the Epilog laser cutter. There was a laser meetup at 6pm, and a fellow doing a *completely insanely great* custom acrylic casemod had some spare red and wondered how it would look. So we ran a pair of sample signs off on it, and he kept one for reference.

Among the things I need to remember to do is embed the fonts– I found that the nifty fonts on the lab computers were not fully represented on the station that runs the Epilog. I had set the spacing for the font I chose, but the substituted font had different spacing, and I didn’t catch the error, feh. But hey, waste not, want not! I learned that while supposedly Adobe Illustrator will import to Corel Draw for cutting/rastering, I had the best results when saving in Illustrator 10 format (yow) and kind of iffy results saving as CS (vs CS4, the default). Since I was flipping the markers to maximize use of the acrylic sheet, I had used a flip on the text. The CS import version mirrored as well as flipped the text, wups.

I’m really looking forward to hitting Tap Plastics and getting material to do a full run of signs. I’ll post the .cdr files so that other interested parties can make signs. I started with one of the Epilog project file samples, but ended up altering the shape to make a wider stake, and completely changing the layout. Epilog One’s laser is getting a little finicky, according to the instructor, so I ended up with the best results by slowing the beam down beyond the recommended settings. At 600 dpi raster, the table says to use 15/90/5000 but we found 8/85/5000 to work really well. Of course, burn a hole to check– I’m thinking of making a template with a chop-mark on it in a consistent location that will raster etch and then cut itself free. That way I get a small handy object as a test pattern each time.

Why make garden markers like this? In the past decade of gardening in the Bay Area, first on my balcony, then in outdoor hydroponic pots, and finally in my backyard and community garden, I have found some cultivars that are real favorites, that I grow every year. I didn’t think I was growing much that fell into the ‘permanent sign’ category, since I try new things annually too. However, when I started laying out the files, I found that I had to stop after 20+ signs and promise to pick it up again next time I’m at the ‘Shop. Between spring, summer, and fall crops, I consistently grow about 35 – 40 varieties of veggies and salad greens, plus about another 10 – 15 experiments annually. Yow! Well, that’s why I have a garden blog too. Since I have a bed at the community garden, I figured it would be nice to label things, and I also like to have good labels at home.

BTW, sharp-eyed readers of said blog may have noticed my last update included a mention of using scrap plastic to keep young squashes off the dirt. Those ‘scraps’ are really the additional run of signs. I used a piece of scrap white opaque acrylic someone left in the scrap bin with some etching on one side. The absorption rate was different enough from clear acrylic that the lettering was less deep (and white-on-white) and the pieces weren’t fully cut free from the sheet. I ended up with a nice set of scratches and some broken signs from my attempt to gracefully snap them apart. My attempts to get a contrasting substance to stick to the indented lettering while wiping off the face of the sign? FAIL. So they have become scrap for now. But from abandoned scrap to practice surface to my scrap to garden tool isn’t bad. 🙂


Read Full Post »