Tag Archives: adhesive

85: Sticker Sheets

As part of a custom order of Ingress badges, I recently had a chance to revisit kiss cutting. I’d played with the process a few times before but not on 52lasers projects.

Kiss Cutting is one of the most popular methods for creating pressure-sensitive labels. During the kiss-cutting process, the perimeter of each label is cut by a sharp metal die or laser beam…but the cut does not penetrate the label’s backing material (liner). – Formax Printing

In this run, the client and I opted to use thin self-adhesive acrylic stickers to allow for adjustable agent levels, saving on badge reprints when agent levels change. Each badge was to receive its own accompanying sticker sheet with options for sixteen levels. Because it’d be just plain silly to have that many separate stickers to keep track of, using a kiss cut to carve stickers out on a rectangular sheet made a lot of sense.

16 levels. I am not a dedicated enough agent to get past level 9!
16 levels. I am not a dedicated enough agent to get past level 9!

With our 40w laser, I cut the sheets out of the LaserLights material at full power and 80% speed. The octagonal stickers themselves were kiss-cut at 35% power at full speed. It took a little nudging of the numbers to end up at that point; earlier kiss cutting attempts weren’t cutting all the way through the adhesive transfer paper but they were still scoring it enough to make removing stickers tricky.

The sticker sits in a deeper engraving on the badge so that it's protected from accidentally being removed.
The sticker sits in a deeper engraving on the badge so that it’s protected from accidentally being removed.

While the stickers turned out great and will perform their function admirably, the aesthetic clash between silver foil/black stickers on fluorescent transparent green acrylic is stronger than we’d like, so future runs are likely to utilize a different adjustable level solution.

The engraved sticker channel depth is clearly visible from the back.
The engraved sticker channel depth is clearly visible from the back.

58: Lasering Layers

Last week, Jen made some amazing costume jewelry recreations using five separate layers of acrylic. During the process, she recognized the frustration of perfectly aligning individual layers of laser-cut acrylic. Was cutting the layers first and then gluing them together the best option? Or could we stick the layers together first, and then cut out the outer shape? She explored the idea in a separate jewelry design and left it for later, but since her question piqued my interest, I decided to follow through with this week’s project.

The prototype, and the separate grey and pink templates.
The prototype, and the separate grey and pink templates.

The first thing I did was cut a pair of Jen’s new jewelry design—a two-layer chevron stud—and stuck the pieces together by hand so that I could appreciate how obnoxious the alignment can be.  Just one pair of studs wasn’t that bad, but I can imagine the tedium of assembling dozens of these tiny pieces and how annoying it would be to accidentally misalign a layer.

Pre-applied adhesive makes this a super-easy task.
Pre-applied adhesive makes this a super-easy task.

I then set up two templates. The top layer featured the internal shapes cut out first, and the bottom layer was a blank template cut to the same size so that the pieces could be stuck together before the final laser cutting pass. Thankfully, the top layer material has an adhesive backing pre-applied, so it was just a matter of peel-and-stick, making sure the templates’ edges lined up. The final piece was 1/16″ thick, so I processed it with the same laser settings I would use for a normal piece of 1/16″ thick acrylic.

Sandwiched together, the total thickness is 1/16".
Sandwiched together, the total thickness is 1/16″.

The trickiest part of the process was making sure that the final cut aligned properly with the inside cuts on the top layer. This alignment would have been automatic and impossible to mess up if I was making both the outside and inside cuts at once, but because we’re trying to avoid having to align dozens of tiny pieces, this step is necessary. Even when I used the template shape to align against the rulers, and the red laser pointer to eyeball alignment as it ran a “test” cut, my final cut was just short of a millimeter off vertically, resulting in some pieces with thicker top edges and some pieces with thinner top edges. A more modern laser with a camera registration system would alleviate this issue.

Alignment issues strike again!
Alignment issues strike again!

Beyond the slight error in registration, the cut worked exactly as I’d hoped. Each piece cut out just fine with the 1/16″ acrylic settings, and I assume the same would hold true when layering three or four pieces, as long as the adhesive layer was consistently applied and I used settings appropriate for the final thickness. In the end, having to perform one extra registration step within the cutting process is far better than having to hand-align 30+ stud earrings!

 

53: Remote Labels

53? With 2014 coming to a close, Jennifer’s toast post completed the last of the laser projects we originally set out to do. One laser, fifty-two weeks, after all! But where do we go from here? We go right into week fifty-three, of course!

This week, I decided to solve a problem created by a Christmas gift. Last year for Christmas Jennifer and I traded some items that have been on our “get this eventually” list: one complicated and cute little rice cooker, and a sound system for our television that you could adjust the volume of from your comfy couch comfort. The rice is great, and our abused little computer speaker setup has been kicked to the curb and replaced with a fairly robust Yamaha audio receiver.

That’s excellent for many reasons, but troublesome for one: getting down with our entertainment now meant fiddling with three different input devices, rather than one, and Jennifer was having none of it, especially since I never bothered to let her know which devices were on which inputs. Jennifer is savvy, of course, and gets along fine now that I’ve let her join the secret A/V button club, but just to be future-proofed I decided to make a little label to stick on the receiver remote pointing out exactly which input buttons went where.

The naked remote. Not impossible to use, but not as intuitive as necessary.
The naked remote. Not impossible to use, but not as intuitive as necessary.

The remote isn’t bad by itself, but when your inputs are labeled “HDMI 1” through “HDMI 4” you might spend some time pressing buttons until the device you’re expecting graces the screen. I measured the HDMI section of the remote and the buttons themselves—in millimeters, way outside of my United States customary unit comfort zone—and cut a prototype out of some super-thin adhesive-backed acrylic.

One prototype was all that was needed.

One prototype was all that was needed.

The prototype fit almost perfectly, which took me by surprise. The rounded corners of the buttons were just a little too rounded, so I had to square them back up a bit to get the buttons to fit more easily in the holes I’d cut. But that was all it took!

Now the remote is at-a-glance easy.  Jen can choose between the Wii U, the Xbox 360, a home theater PC, and “Maru,” the nickname given to my Chromecast. She still has to turn on the device and the television separately, and I might be able to alleviate that if I can get into my television’s manufacturer mode and turn on the hidden HDMI-CEC functionality, but that’s a different adventure for another time.

Remotelabel (3 of 3)

37: Controller Tags

I was thrilled when Brenn commissioned something I hadn’t done before: acrylic labels for a Nintendo Wavebird controller.  I’m a huge fan of the Super Smash Bros. series of games and have three well-worn Wavebirds of my own, but in this case I would be making a name label for Alex, or “Killer Noodle 2.”

A template cut from cardstock helped determine shape issues.
A template cut from cardstock helped determine shape issues.

Aesthetics came about a little by accident: Brenn suggested a car racing theme, but the checkerboard flag pattern I made ended up looking far more like a zipper than a flag. We decided to couple the zipper design with a Gamecube logo approximation font called Gamecuben.

The shape took a few tries to get right. That was mostly because I was too lazy to do precise measurements, but I did use some laser-cut cardstock to get a feel how the final acrylic piece would fit between the D-pad and the thumb buttons. Compared to the cardstock prototype, which wrapped down around the Start/Pause button, I cropped the final acrylic piece a little farther up so I could avoid obsessing over following the controller’s curved shapes as much as possible. It helped balance out the length of the username printed front-and-center, anyway!

Engraving through transfer tape didn't work so well.
Engraving through transfer tape didn’t work so well.

I used some 1/16″ Silver/Black foiled acrylic with an adhesive layer on the back. This made adhering the final pieces a snap. A long time ago, I ran across a conversation on a laser engraving forum suggesting that, with the right power settings, one could laser engrave certain 2-ply acrylics through the transfer tape, resulting in a clean engraving with no blow back thanks to the tape. Well, I tested that with this project and while I didn’t experiment with every power and speed setting available, I did give it a handful of shots. The results were almost universally sticky and inconsistent. A pity!

A matching tag for the Wavebird's receiver.
A matching tag for the Wavebird’s receiver.

A simple rounded rectangle with an LED window was made to fit on the Wavebird’s receiver unit. It used the same stroke effect and type as the main controller piece, so it was also quick and easy!

This was a fun project, partly because of my fondness for the hardware involved, and partly because collaborating with Brenn came easily, the design snapped together without much trouble and required few prototypes, and the final acrylic really stands out on the controller. Frankly, it might stand out too much, but I’m fond of it anyway!

The completed set: one Wavebird game pad and one receiver!
The completed set: one Wavebird game pad and one receiver!