Wednesday, 9 March 2016


In case you saw my Instagram yesterday, I went to a Hackerspace where my friend is a member and we did some laser cutting. The place is amazing, they have all sorts of machines available to members. I'm definitely joining, because so many things will be easier with proper tools and space!

The quick project I did was cut some Sorbothane pads to use for AOE correction and shock absorption. You may remember from an earlier post how the pads I made by hand looked. If not, here's a refresher.

It's not exactly flattering, but that's what you get. Sorbothane is a pain in the ass to cut, since it is so elastic. The material wants to escape scissor blades and punches, and thus the results are quite crude.

Enter futuristic technology! The laser cutter works on vector drawings and produces results with tolerances down to parts of a millimetre.

On the right-hand screen you can see the simple vector drawing. The left-hand screen shows a live camera feed from the cutter, below. The machine lid is emblazoned with an appropriate warning label. Safety first, after all!

After a few test cuts we had the settings nailed down and could get to work. If you're planning on doing something like this, know that the sorbo creates a bit of smoke when cut and the material melts where the beam cuts it, turning into a sticky goop. Luckily, though, it washes away easily with just plain water.

The end result is from another world when compared to anything I could cut by hand. A 150x150mm sheet of Sorbo that had been used a bit before netted me about 35 pads all ready to use. You could certainly get more if material isn't wasted on testing and cuts that end up not using all available space. Still, compared to buying these one by one, this was brilliant. Plus you can alter the size to taste.

This was a very nice little project and it was easily completed within just a few hours. The resulting pads will last me quite a while.

I hear the laser also cuts acrylics, so I'm already planning on creating some lens covers in the future.

Stay tuned and play safe!

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