Skip to content

Laser cutter

NYC Resistor has a Epilog 35W 60W laser cutter with a 30x60cm 80x50cm bed (new laser arrived in Jan 2015!). It is one of the best rapid prototyping tools I've ever used -- I can go from quick sketch in Inkscape to an enclosure in minutes. Here is a selection of some of my favorite projects that I've made and tools that I've written for creating things with the laser.


Command line laser cutting

The Epilog laser cutter at NYC Resistor officially only work with Windows, but that doesn't seem right for a hackerspace. I reverse engineered the HPGL dialect and have a set of command line tools to send PDF files directly to the laser cutter's LPD port over the ethernet. Read on for more info....

Box maker

My open source boxer program generates SVG files for laser cut boxes. Pass in the desired dimensions, out comes a right rectangular prism that fits together. I've used it for almost every project, like Voronoi boxes, my Analog gauge and Morse Code keyboard.

Unfolding STL

Using the power of math and trigonometry, I've been working on a way to unfold 3D STL files into sections that can be cut on the laser cutter. This Mobius torus was my first successful model that was been converted to papercraft. Read on for details and source code...

Laser slicing

ReplicatorG and SkeinForge can be used to generate slices of arbitrary thickness, so I used a 3D model from Thingiverse and cut it out of 3mm clear acrylic. The technique makes for a very neat mix of high XY resolution and very low Z resolution. Read more about this technique...

Lasercut Intaglio printing

One of my favorite things is to combine low and high tech. Here I writeup how to use the laser cutter to etch printing plates for intaglio method prints using our lithographic printing press. The 21st century meets 15th century in our house warming invitations. Read on for more details...


Nail art

I helped out with the Nail Art classes at NYCR in 2013 and 2015. Shelby and Colleen AF Venable taught us how to use the laser cutter to make custom transfers with very fine details. It's pretty easy and doesn't involve fingers in the laser. Read on for how to do it...

Lasercut Halftone

I wrote a perl script to convert images to halftone circles that can then be laser cut into stencils. They also cast very interesting almost coherent shadows. The script tries to optimize the cut order, but it still takes a very long time to cut so many small circles unless you have an optimized laser cutter driver like my epilog. Perl source code is available, but might not be very portable.

Voronoi lace boxes

I love the natural look of Voronoi diagrams after learning about them in a path planning robotics class. To design these boxes I wrote a script that outputs SVG of the Voronoi diagram and then combine it with my SVG box maker to create the delicate boxes. Each one is randomly generated and unique, although the ones above are available as thing:39415. Read on for more details on making the boxes...

Macbook Etching

My personal Macbook Air needed something to go with its custom bootrom, so I modified the lower Manhattan part of the Taylor Map of New York and used the NYCR laser cutter to raster etch the image. Read on for more details...

Ada Initiative

The Ada Initiative commissioned a portrait of Ada Lovelave to use for their marketing materials and released it under a CC0 license. I lasercut relief and intaglio plates and printed a few different sizes for friends on the lithographic press at NYC Resistor. More photos of the printing process... Read on for more details...

Laser cut Penrose tiles

Generating Penrose tiles using the laser cutter. Still a work in progress; maybe making a LED diffuser or doing something with fabric like Claire's dress from "Until the End of the World". The two arrangements above have five- and ten-fold radial symmetry. Read on for more details...

Living hinge

I experimented with the living hinge technique for making flexible wooden laser cut structures. The cubical ornament is thing:14723 and the box is thing:14267.

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is a fun game and I wanted to make my own version of the board. These laser etched and cut interlocking pieces make for a very sturdy setup. One is made from bamboo, the other is inked acrylic.

Lasercut Drywall

It is possible to laser cut drywall with NYCR's laser cutter. This 13mm thick section required five passes at 5% speed (5cm lens) or two passes at 2% speed (10cm lens). In both cases 100% power, 500 Hz frequency. I didn't change the focus between passes. One pass at 1% speed just chars the edges, so multiple passes are better. The shape was generated with boxer, my SVG laser cut box generator.

LED Ring Light

I experimented with a laser cut ring light based on a circular PCB of white LEDs that Adam brought back from China. They work fairly well, although the petal shaped hood of the 24-70 cases a shadow unless the light is at the very edge of the plastic.

List of pages

Last update: November 8, 2020