Laser Power is Fablab-ulous

Always on the look out for technological solutions to set making problems, we recently made a visit to a fantastic local initiative called FABLAB London.  Housed in the somewhat unlikely position for a manufacturing laboratory – in the centre of the City of London; this Digital Fabrication and Rapid Prototyping workspace is open to the public and offers users access to a range of manufacturing equipment. The team at FABLAB also provide advice and guidance for ‘designers, entrepreneurs, kickstarters, hardware startups, parents and young inventors’.  Indeed, it’s a FABrication LABoratory, a sort of digital manufacturing equipment and knowledge library.

I love the concept and it’s very much in the spirit of the 3D printing revolution which is quietly and sometimes not so quietly developing amongst tech communities around the world; here at GSMD we are – and have been for some time – on the crest of that technological wave using our very own 3D printer to boldy go where no prop has been before.

What we don’t have quite yet however is a CADCAM Laser cutter! But FabLab do! So we popped down recently to try it out as a potential solution to producing detailed lettering cut from plywood…

As you can see, this technology has a lot of potential for cutting sheet material and for making objects that are assembled from 2D parts, or to mark and etch materials. As with all tools we use they are not a catch all production solution but they can form an important link in the design and manufacture chain, a very useful tool to have in the box. Laser cutters will cut and mark paper, card, wood, plastics, textiles and apparently even gingerbread – as we found out on our visit! It will also mark metals using special etching paste.  So lots and lots of uses for the realisation of set designs and the creation of Props.

We will be making many more visits to FABLAB in the near future, we have some sign making experimentation for our upcoming summer musical, and I will be using the laser cutter to create fantastic name signs for our Graduate Exhibition 2015 showcase taking place from 9th-11th June.  I will post some more detailed pictures of the results soon…

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