Laser Cutter Improvements

DoES Needs You!

As you’re all probably aware, one of the best things about DoES — other than the sense of community, great prices, wealth of knowledge, networking opportunities, amount of different tools available… there are too many best things! — is our laser cutters. Sophia the Smaller Laser and Gerald the Gigantic Laser are the most popular and busy machines in the workshop, and are a valuable asset, not just for DoES, but for the whole Liverpool area.

From time to time, they do need minor repairs, and we try to carry those out as quickly as possible. However, it is finally time for them both to have the kind of overhaul that has been necessary for a while, to ensure that both cutters keep running at optimum capacity for you, for as long as possible.

To ensure this, we are going to be buying various bits of new hardware to keep Sophia and Gerald happy –

  • a chiller for each cutter so they’ll cut more powerfully and for longer, even on hot days,
  • a new, more powerful extractor fan for Gerald (that won’t need vacuuming out every 2 weeks!),
  • built in ducting, to simplify using the cutters, and improve the airflow control (less smoke in the workshop),
  • a new lens for Gerald,
  • new, fresh mirrors for both cutters,
  • a dedicated CO2 extinguisher for the cutters.

As you might imagine, this kind of upgrade won’t be cheap, and that, hopefully, is where you come in.

We’re asking for help from the DoES community to put towards the cost of these upgrades. We expect them to cost around £1400, (although £850 would cover the cost of the chillers and extractors) and want to raise as much of that as possible by 3rd July, at which point we will take whatever is collected, and get to work improving!

We understand that you all give so much to the DoES community already, and thank you for that, but hopefully you’ll be able to help us past an investment hump, and make your workshop even more epic.

How to donate

The best way is by bank transfer to:

Account Number: 65487257
Sort Code: 08-92-99
Reference: LaserPledge

Make sure to include that reference so we know you’re not paying hotdesking!

If you’d like an invoice for you accounts, just email accounts@doesliverpool.com to ask Sean for the amount you’d like to donate.

You can also give any of the organisers cash, if that’s easier for you.

Or you can donate by Paypal:




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Upcycling Farnell Boxes to Make a Laser-cut Workshop Sign

At Maker Day this month, the Future Makers were on the laser-cutter cutting these geometric shapes out of cardboard to then tessellate into cool 3-dimensional shapes.

Playing with the cardboard and laser-cutter reminded me that we could do with a sign for the workshop door (we also laser-cut some new “we’re in the workshop” signs to help direct people round too).

For our cutting materials we were just using old cardboard boxes from the recycling pile, and the first Workshop sign we cut was from a crisp box.

Take 1

Once we’d cut that we realised that it would look better (particularly on a wooden door) with a contrasting colour behind the cut-out section. At which point inspiration struck!

The Farnell boxes (given the number of people building things with electronics round here, we have one or two knocking about…) have a colourful wavy pattern design on the side!

Raw Materials

We soon had one flattened and ready to feed into the laser-cutter. Andrew pointed out that if we could provide a bit of depth between the text and the background you’d also get a neat parallax effect as you walked past the door. Well, that just needed a couple more frames cutting from the box…

A few minutes of laser-cutting and we were ready for assembly.

Laser-cutting done

Then after a bit of glueing, it was set to be installed.

Assembled sign

And now everyone knows where the workshop is!

Workshop sign close-up
Workshop Sign on the door
Workshop Sign in place

Jolly Lolly Sticks

This is a guest post from Jo Leng, a regular visitor to DoES Liverpool who’s has hot desked and used our workshop:


I have always liked jokes, the shorter the better, so when Emily Watkins phoned into DoES needing help how could I resist.

Emily is a chef who lives and works in the Cotswolds. She must be good because when she rang she was competing in the Great British Menu (for Comic Relief) which airs on BBC2 tomorrow morning 9:05 (Thursday 4th April). She needed jokes fast and she needed them to be etched onto lolly sticks. A quick web search had given her DoES – an artist had used the DoES laser cutter to etch lolly sticks last year.

After a quick negotiation, training on using the laser cutter, a web search to find jokes, joke testing and expert consultation from John and Paul on etching and alignment the lolly sticks were delivered.


It’s fantastic to see something produced at DoES Liverpool appearing on BBC, even if it’s just a simple lolly stick!

Press Release: Community Co-Working Space, DoES Liverpool, Opens New Dedicated Workshop Area

DoES Liverpool, community workshop and co-working space in central Liverpool, has celebrated its first year of operation by expanding its space and creating a dedicated workshop area. With a 61% increase in floor space DoES has been able to create five specialised areas meaning that users can get the best out of each part of the space and avoid causing disruption for other visitors. DoES Liverpool is giving the public a great opportunity to visit and try out the space during the Grand Opening on Maker Day 11th August 2012.

The workshop now boasts some more traditional woodworking equipment such as a band saw and bench grinder to complement the existing digital fabrication facilities of the MakerBot CupCake 3D printer and LS3040 laser cutter and engraver. Stations for soldering or just general making are available for use during the regular Maker Night and Maker Day events or throughout the week by signing up for a workshop membership or paying for a single day’s use. Storage is included in workshop membership and available for purchase by other visitors. As ever, the first day’s use of the equipment and space is free if you bring along cake to share!

Removing the workshop equipment and much of the storage space from the main room also freed up more space for co-working. A cool new hot-desk hub has been created using an original Gostins dining table, and an existing pod of desks available for permanent members has been expanded. The meeting room now doubles as a comfortable break-out area with a large screen display available for viewing presentations and videos.

Richard Foulkes, Director, propertytranslator recently returned to DoES Liverpool after trying out other serviced offices in Liverpool, he said:

I’ve rented serviced offices from corporate landlords in the past and DoES has always offered a friendlier atmosphere in comparison. The recent improvements in layout and planned new facilities should make the office space an even better working environment going forward and I’m sure I’ll be using it more often.

As a regular visitor to the space, freelancer Joanna Leng offered her thoughts:

I enjoy working out of the DoES Liverpool office one day a week. I get a desk, electricity, wireless network, hot drinks, friendly intelligent conversation and networking all for £8 per day. DoesLiverpool also run lots of clubs and user groups – there is plenty going on. It is very creative.

This week they opened up a new work shop next to the office area. It is light and spacious and now if someone is using the laser cutter or 3D printer I can chat to them but I do not have to hear the machinery. I can also use the laser cutter to make some Xmas presents while I am there. The meeting room allows me to organise meetings here rather than at my home.

 

Further changes are planned including a newly fitted kitchen and electronic locks which will allow DoES Liverpool to expand its hours of operation beyond the standard work day.

For more information about Maker Day see makernight.co.uk, for more on DoES Liverpool – its services, facilities and prices – visit doesliverpool.com

DoES is now 50% More Awesome with a dedicated workshop space

Setting up the Laser cutter in its new home
Setting up the Laser cutter in its new home

At the weekend a dozen People Who DoES came to help move our temporary workshop into our Exciting New Dedicated Workshop space in the room next door.

Using an impressive array of technological (3D printed models on laser-cut floorplan, contributed CAD drawings) and organizational (anarchy/democracy) methods, our volunteers worked tirelessly for several hours, pausing only for cake and sandwiches.

This big
This big

Our co-working space is now larger and tidier, while the workshop is looking great. We’ll be celebrating the move on Saturday 11th August, for the inaugural Makerday (10:00-17:00). Hope you can join us!

See all of our photos from the move here!

Work Experience

Over the past month we’ve had another Italian students at DoES Liverpool on an internship, we asked him to write a blog post about his experience and here it is:


DoES Liverpool is a co-working space where people come to share an office, but also to use tools like the 3D printer or the laser cutter.

During these 4 weeks at DoES Liverpool I’ve helped to make things that I thought were almost impossible to make. But a great idea, together with an Arduino and a laser cutter can become an real product, like the WhereDial, an “Internet of things” device inspired by the Weasley family clock in Harry Potter which can keep your family updated with your location.
The device consists of an Arduino that connects to the internet to get information about your location and moves the dial to the right position.
All the wooden parts are made with the laser-cutter, which has also been used to make 3d “prints” with sugar by melting it with the laser.

WhereDial

BubblinoAnother device that’s here at DoES is Bubblino: a bubble-blowing happy face that brightens up the office with his bubbles every time somebody tweets about the office.

 

 

 

 

During these 4 weeks I learnt and did many things:
I wrote the javascript code for a simple node.js server to enable long polling on the requests made by the Arduinos in the WhereDials.
I debugged the HTML/Javascript page that displays the events on the door of the office.
I used tinkercad.com and the 3d printer to print all the desks and furniture that were missing on the 3d model of the office.
I updated the code running on the arduino of the WhereDial to make it use 5 small LEDs to alert the user if there are any errors during the acquisition and parsing of the information from the server.

Birthday cakes

And, since last week was Does Liverpool’s first anniversary I also used the laser cutter to make some of these little cakes to celebrate it.

 

 

 

 

I really enjoyed the days spent at DoES Liverpool, always making something new with tools like the 3d printer that I’ve never used before.
It was also a first for me to see the “making of” of a product. I always thought it was a difficult and long process, but with a laser cutter and an Arduino, prototyping something becomes easier and fun. So if you have an idea for something but don’t know how to make it you should definitely come here and try to make it.

 

Nicolò Pretto

 

Work/experience in DoES Liverpool

Over the past month we’ve had two Italian students at DoES Liverpool on an internship, we asked them to write a blog post about their experience and here it is:


DoES Liverpool is a working-environment where a lot of things are built and designed.

In this our month of work experience we were able to transform our theoretical knowledge learned at school, into practical skills, thanks to the possibility of using sophisticated machines and tools of creation.

In the first week we worked with the Arduino and the Arduino Ethernet, helping John with his project, the WhereDial.  Afterwards we worked with Adrian on a kind of clock, that takes information from the Google Weather’s server, moves a servo and can show you the atmospheric conditions in a specified location, selected in the Arduino’s code. The main structure of these projects is built using a sophisticated machine, the LaserCutter, that can, using the picture created in InkScape, design wooden shapes with high precision.

We have also learned how to use the 3D printer, and with it, we have built a lot of models, designed with TinkerCad and printed with ReplicatorG, to put on the wooden floor plan, that we have designed with inkScape.

Here, in DoES Liverpool, the objects aren’t made only using wood or ABS plastic, but also with the fantasy and intelligence of the people who work here. In fact, recently we saw the creation of little objects made using sugar and the laserCutter, exploiting the phenomenon that everyone knows as sintering!

So if you want to make something great, come here to DoES Liverpool and make it real.

Enjoy

Ahmed Kouza & Edoardo Bastianetto

 

DoES Liverpool Unveils Laser Cutter at Maker Night

DoES Liverpool is looking forward to unveiling the new laser cutter they have recently received to enable members of the community to better understand the potential of rapid prototyping using digital fabrication. The laser cutter will be available for use by members of the community free of charge and will be unveiled at Monday’s Maker Night from 6:30pm in the Gostins Building, Hanover Street.

The laser cutter supplements the existing digital fabrication tools available in DoES Liverpool – a 3D printer and a CNC machine – and will vastly extend the prototyping capabilities available to the community.

Many members of the community have already been working with laser cutting, using the device that is available during Maker Nights in the Art and Design Academy of Liverpool John Moores University but the availability of one within DoES Liverpool’s workshop means that work can continue on projects beyond that monthly visit.

John McKerrell, one of the organisers of DoES Liverpool, had this to say:

“I’m very excited to see what interesting things will be built with the help of the new laser cutter. One of my own projects – the WhereDial, a device for showing locations of friends and family as they check into places using their mobile phone – has taken a long time to develop as I’ve had to wait a month to try each new iteration. I will now be able to iterate my designs much quicker and should be able to get the product to market very soon.”

Preparing designs for the laser cutter is surprisingly simple. Any vector drawing package can be used such as the free and Open Source Inkscape or commercial packages such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Once prepared designs are simply sent to the laser cutter which can very quickly engrave and cut the designs from plywood or perspex. Objects can then be constructed, any problems revised and a new version cut out very quickly. Help is available from the DoES Liverpool community for those who need it and lots of designs are freely available on the internet too.

In fact it’s possible to cut more exotic materials too, Maker Night regular Beth Edmondson works with leather and fabrics to create interesting clothing designs and decorations. Local artist Susan Brown has also been experimenting by using the laser to etch her own designs onto perspex blocks which she then uses to make prints.

John adds, “People have developed lots of different designs that can be cut out and built, many of which are freely available on the Internet. From small sculptures of animals, through clocks, containers and camera mounts, all the way up to 3D printers. Though many of these involve other parts – nuts, bolts, motors or other electronics – their strength and structure is based on a very simple 2 dimensional design cut out on a laser cutter like ours.”.

Maker Night is a free to attend event organised by DoES Liverpool with support from Open Labs at Liverpool John Moores University providing a space for people to learn, experiment and work on projects related to physical computing, digital fabrication, Arduino and electronics. They’re informal, friendly events and everyone is welcome, of any ability level. The next event takes place in DoES Liverpool’s space on the 4th floor of the Gostins Building, Hanover Street.

Laser Cut Piggy Bank

See our flickr photostream for more laser cut goodies.

Season’s Greetings from DoES Liverpool

We thought we should have a little festive gathering for everyone who has been a part of DoES Liverpool over the past 5 months.

This Friday (16th) from 4pm we’ll be having some mulled wine, mince pies and frivolity in DoES Liverpool. We’d love if you could join us, come along and celebrate with everyone!

On Friday evening there is also the Twitter pub crawl. After our mini Christmas party we’ll probably grab some dinner before heading off to the pub, anyone who wants to come along is welcome. Click here for more info on the pub crawl.

Best Wishes,

All at DoES Liverpool

The Birth of the DoES Space

When we first moved into the Gostin Building there was a fair bit of work that needed to be done to the space to make it presentable. Nothing too major, mainly collecting furniture and equipment from a few different sources (some from an office that a few of us had shared before founding DoES, and some that was kindly loaned to us by local tech startup Scraperwiki), plus giving the whole space a lick of paint. It had last been used for some sort of strange art project and there were an assortment of outlines of people and objects drawn on the walls.

Given that we’d be doing some work on it I took the opportunity to play around with some time-lapse photography. During the time we were moving in, and doing the decorating, I stuck an old Canon camera on a tripod in the corner. It was running the CHDK software with a script that took a photo every five minutes. A bit of playing around afterwards with ffmpeg, and Open Shot (for the titles) and we had this little video to show off the transition…

Birth of the first DoES Space from Adrian McEwen on Vimeo.

That doesn’t give you a sense of what the space is like now that it’s in use, so I thought I’d include this photo of the main space as it is now, but you should really come down for a visit in person 😉

A Panorama of the DoES Space

Of course, if you’d rather have some music to accompany the video, I can recommend watching it from here