50: Robot Master Magnets

Some time last week, while I was at Eagle Engraving, Laurie handed me a single letter-sized sheet of thick paper. I thought it was paper, anyway. It turned out to be a sheet of inkjet-printable flexible magnet that could be laser cut cleanly. It was a sample given to her by a supplier on his recent visit to the shop, but she thought I’d get more use out of it than they would so I inherited this new material. I was genuinely curious about how it would process, so I knew it’d be this week’s project here!

The sheet was flexible enough to put through an inkjet printer.
The sheet was flexible enough to put through an inkjet printer.

Later on, Will helped me focus the project. He’s “that guy that does stuff” at Eagle, and he’s every bit as much a prisoner to video game nostalgia as I am.
“What should I cut out of this stuff?” I asked.

“You really can’t guess what my answer to that is?” he replied. I glanced at his monitor, absolutely riddled with little blue pixel robots.

“I don’t know!” came out instinctively, but my brain caught up to what I was looking at and I added, “Mega Man?”

“There you go.”

It didn’t take me long to settle on Robot Master faces, as seen on the stage select screens of, in particular, Mega Man 1–6. I ran an initial test on just the first game, but it was successful enough that I filled the rest of the sheet with all 46 classic NES robot masters. For a short while I thought about adding Mega Man 9 and 10, retro-style sequels that came out only a few years ago, and I briefly flirted with using fan-made 8-bit recreations of the portraits from Mega Man 7 and 8. Unfortunately, I only had one sheet!

Each game features a different frame shape; they're laser cut faithfully.
Each game features a different frame shape; they’re laser cut faithfully.

Design was mostly simple, isolating the individual portrait frames from their respective games’ stage selection screens and then tracing them with a cut line. Each game has a different look to the frames, and I wanted to make sure that the laser cut matched the style of the frame. I even made sure to account for the one single robot whose head sticks outside of his frame: Quick Man’s boomerang head piece. It added four pixels that I’ve cut faithfully!

I made registration marks to ease the tedious alignment process.
I made registration marks to ease the tedious alignment process.

Laser cutting the printed page was relatively pain free for two reasons: the minimal thickness of the material meant I didn’t have to spend too much time dialing in power and speed settings, and I employed a registration mark system to help align the printed graphics to the laser cut lines. Black outline targets are printed on the four corners of the sheet, and I enable a red dot pointer that matches where the (otherwise invisible) laser would cut so that I could watch it trace a vector engraving path on those targets. If you look closely, you can see that the registration wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than I could have achieved without using those marks.

These are very thin magnets, only about 0.02" thick.
These are very thin magnets, only about 0.02″ thick.

The final result sure looks good! Unfortunately, the material is so incredibly thin that the magnets won’t hold anything up except themselves; don’t expect to leave a grocery list on your fridge with one of these. They also suffer from an issue any inkjet print will: they’re not waterproof. The print didn’t run at all, which was a shock to me, but when Fire Man was doused with a few drops of water, his papery surface blistered up a bit and discolored. He’s never been a fan of cold stuff.

Fire Man isn't fond of water. You knew that, though, didn't you?
Fire Man isn’t fond of water. You knew that, though, didn’t you?

By the way, if you ever want to know which Robot Master to take out first in your game, I highlighted each one with the selection graphics from their respective games.  Thanks to Miranda Paugh and her site, The Mega Man Home Page, for boss order tips!

2 thoughts on “50: Robot Master Magnets”

    1. That’s an excellent point, John! I might not have mentioned that the material used was marketed as a laserable sheet of magnet, so I presumed the manufacturer wouldn’t claim that if it was that kind of dangerous. I never did follow up on those claims, though, so I still should have been more cautious.