Recently I had to turn down a few requests because I feel like I’m either doing a poor job of explaining them or the customer doesn’t really understand what they want (and subsequently) what they need.
Our laser is awesome. It has so many capabilities that I can’t even begin to name them all. It does also have a few limitations which are inherent in working with certain materials.
I did part of this oar for a customer as part of a retirement (I believe) present. The client felt that there was too much blank space in the middle of the paddle and wanted to add the Navy crest. Wood is one of those mediums that turns out great. My only complaint is that because it’s a natural product and most wood-made items are not all of the same piece, you do get variation across the different pieces. The after photo (of when it was sealed) helped even out the tone but I completely forgot to take a photo of it.
Our machine’s dimensions are 17” x 29” and with a depth of 8”. The 17” and the 29” are interchangeable typically, meaning that you can turn it to 29” x 17” so long as the grain allows it. If you don’t care about which way the grain runs (on materials with a grain), you can stick it however you want… provided the depth isn’t more than 8”. So far, the 8” depth seems to be what restricts our operations the most. However, the times when I’ve wished for a deeper machine have been so low that it is pretty much a non-issue.
This happens also to be the one thing that I think I have the most trouble describing. Yes, it is a box of sorts. You can take a box that is 17” x 29” x 8” and put a lot of things in it. However, most boxes don’t require the object to fit into it in a certain way. If you want the engraving to be on a specific side, that side has to be, from the table top to the top of the item, no more than 8” tall. It doesn’t matter if the rest of it is 4” x 4”; if it’s not under 8” tall, it won’t fit. The next item was almost a complete turn away until the client said that they could remove the bottom half. Hallelujah, it fit! … but I still couldn’t engrave on the sides as one way it was 15+” tall and the other way was around 11” tall. Luckily, they were somewhat flexible with their request so I was able to do it.
Another interesting challenge, at least to me – customer wanted a sign with raised lettering to match the one that they currently had. I feel like I may have made this one more complicated but it was one of those “challenge accepted” moments for me. This was for a slider sign – one of those room signs with a slider piece at the bottom to show if the room was occupied or not. I ended up lightly engraving the first piece of plastic (the green) to have an outline and then laser cutting the letters and placing them individually. I’m sure that if there was an order for 50+ of these, I could have come up with a more efficient way of doing it. As it was, since I was only doing 2 signs, this worked out just fine.
Lastly, we had a bunch of trophies for a dog show. We ended up doing about 70 of them. The customer wasn’t sure if every trophy would be used so instead of engraving the acrylic with the different titles, we cut and engraved the metal plates on the bottom and then affixed them with double sided tape. While very, very hard to remove, it’s not impossible and therefore the trophy could be used again next year if not used this year.
All-in-all, the laser still can do a lot more than the old machine could have. The things we can’t do (way oversized objects, pvc, marking INTO metal) really are miniscule compared to what we can and do fabricate.
Next issue: Photos and jigs, oh my!