Beautiful plywood

laser engraving 3D

I have mentioned elsewhere, I love laser cutters. I got to try one at uni, and to do some pretty cool things. And wanted to make more. I could have made files and ordered the pieces from professional companies, but the laser is a tool and unlike any other, and to get good results requires practice to figure out the tool and the material. Besides, it is insanely expensive.

Driven desperate by the overwhelming mass of ideas this machinery generated in my brain, I have on and off been looking at how to get to do more. To get to use the one at uni was a hassle when I was a student, to finagle my way in there after I finished would be exhausting. I don’t really do the back-scratcing, emailing unknown people, or track down those I lost touch with, to get them to cash in favours from someone they know on my behalf. Hate that.

There are a few hacker/makerspaces in Oslo, and with some research, it seemed a place called Bitraf (“bit refinery”) seemed entirely up my street. They have 2 laser cutters, a small CRC, lathe, and piles of hand tools, power tools, electronics-making stuff like soldering equipment, professional sewing machines. People there make art, electronics, cosplay costumes and accessories, have startup offices, prototypes, test ideas, fail at making stuff, and have great successes. It is fundamentally free – anyone can come in without paying anything and use most of the stuff. But you are encouraged to become a member, and pay about US$60 a month – this will you a few perks, but it is not a well-drawn line. Honesty, decency, and “don’t be a jerk” is the essence.

I attended a course for the laser cutter, and have been back a couple of times. Never have I been in a place where complete strangers are so helpful, so willing to share, spend their time teaching me stuff, telling me about their projects, listening to mine. They are makers in the widest sense possible, and together the entire community is an truly extraordinary hive of weird and wonderful knowledge.

So now i can use the laser by myself. It is exhausing – the macinery is noisy, the ventilation very noisy. There are no recipes for how to do it, what settings to use bar a very cursory introduction. So I have to work it out. And it takes forever. But man… when I get it right, it is worth the rattle, noise, fumes, frustration. Currently; everything I do is some kind of proof of concept. And endless, developing material intuitiveness.

These are vector engraving on birch plywood.

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