Laser Cutters!

Ahh we’ve finally reached laser cutters, and for this week, I wanted to iterate on my idea last week of creating a lamp. However, as I was thinking about materials, I thought that it might be better to create a lampshade. You see, I have this lonely naked lightbulb in my room. Here it is unlit:

unlit-lonely-lightbulb

And here it is lit up:

lit-lonely-lightbulb

It’s a pretty sad excuse for lighting decoration. But hey, I’m on that student budget. So while I’m working on laser cutters, why not make a lampshade to make this part of my room a little more aesthetically pleasing.

I looked up some lampshades on the internet for inspiration, and I found this one that I thought was really visually striking. I’m not a fan of bright rooms, so I liked how the grey dimmed the light and created a nice effect.

lampshade-inspiration

This lampshade was made up of these hanging blades connected by a circular top, so I sketched out what this might look like in Illustrator. However, I knew that a circular top would not work for my room since the lightbulb in my room was pretty close to the wall. I measured that the lightbulb hung 3.5″ from my wall, so I decided to change the top into a semi-circle.

original-sketch-lasercut

blades

base

The measurements for the blades range from 7″ to 11″ tall with a width of 2.5″. The base has dimensions of 13″ across and 10.22″ tall.

The Build

I wasn’t stoked with how large this lampshade was going to be, but the nature of the light that I was building a shade for required something this tall. So I went over to Canal Plastics and bought three 24″x36″ grey smoke acrylic boards. I cut them in half using the plywood saw to get six pieces.

raw-materials

I started to cut my blades first. I tested it first with one board to see how it would turn out. Even after I slowed the speed of the laser cutter from 20 to 18, the 60W laser cutter still took three runs to cut the design through. This was a big project. I understood. Once I had one sheet, I just ran three more boards through to get 24 blades.

first-cut

all-blades

Once I got my blades, I cut out my base and began to tie the blades to my base using wire. Since this was just a prototype, I didn’t mind the wire, but in the future, I’ll probably use a strong thin black string so that the suspension technique remains invisible to the eye.

lampshade-construction

Final product

lampshade-final-1

lampshade-final-1.5

lampshade-final-2

lampshade-final-3

lampshade-final-4

Takeaways

  • I don’t seem to have trouble executing on what we learned in class, but I need to practice more on designing prettier products. It requires more patience. Duly noted for next time.
  • I may change the base to be a circle and hang this from the ceiling. It looks a little strange next to my wall. Also, since the blades are only on one side, the weight distribution of the lamp shade is not the best.
  • I love the laser cutter. Great tool. I can definitely see how we shouldn’t get too reliant on it though, as the cuts were more repeatable but they definitely were not perfect reproductions.
  • This was an expensive product. I need to spend more time in the design phase to limit the costs of my projects.