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Icebreaker Cubes

Icebreaker Cubes

by scientiffic | updated September 14, 2015

My research group is having a retreat this week, and one of the activities we'll be doing is putting together little cubes that represent some of our interests. People will write things that are important to them on each face of their cube. I'm planning to laser cut a template so that we can use it during the retreat.

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My research group is having a retreat this week, and one of the activities we'll be doing is putting together little cubes that represent some of our interests. People will write things that are important to them on each face of their cube.  I'm planning to laser cut a template so that we can use it during the retreat.

October 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM
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I have to edit the Illustrator template I was given to remove the crease lines.  When you laser cut files, you want the parts you plan to raster (or not cut all the way through) to be a different color than the outline you want to cut.  So, for this cube, I want all the outside lines to be black, and I'll make all the creases a different color. I was given a PDF, so I'm using the pen tool to delete extra crease lines in Illustrator.

October 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM
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Doing some quick test cuts using an Epilog 120W laser cutter. 

This never happens, but the first test cut ended up being perfect!  My settings are

Vector: 85% speed, 15% power
Engraving: 90% speed, 10% power

October 7, 2013 at 1:33 PM
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When I imported the file as a DXF into Illustrator, it left out some of the lines.  Luckily, a friend of mine showed me that importing an EPS from Illustrator works.  Another thing to watch out for is that even though I created the crease lines in Illustrator and made them red (R:255, G:0, B:0), Corel Draw didn't import the color as pure Red.  This messed up my engraving settings, so I had to go back and make sure each crease line was actually red.

October 7, 2013 at 1:54 PM
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I should have realized this, but the laser cutter is pretty dumb; if you ask it to engrave a vertical line, it will go back and forth (left to right) instead of up and down.  It was taking over 5 minutes just to engrave a single cube!  So instead, I'm going to do the red crease lines as a vector cut.  

October 7, 2013 at 2:06 PM
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After a TON of test cuts, I ended up finding that the settings that worked:

Black cutout line vector settings: 85% speed, 15% power, 700 frequency

Red crease line vector settings: 90% speed, 3% power, 68 frequency

I had never played around with the frequency setting when laser cutting, but it ended up with cool dotted lines that make it easy to crease.

Changing from the engraving to vector setting made a huge difference in time - now it only takes 30 seconds to cut each cube (before, it was taking over 5 minutes).  And since I have to cut 20 of these, saving time is key!

You can find links to the design files below!

I'll share some pictures of the final cubes people make on Wednesday after the retreat.

Update: Cut new cubes (large_cube.cdr) with these settings:

Black vector: 60 speed / 70 power / 680 Hz

Red vector: 95 speed / 40 power / 68 Hz

October 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM
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can you put multiple sheets of paper down at once?
about 3 years ago
good idea. that could be an option, but I find that when you laser cut multiple sheets, you tend to get burn marks on the top sheet and not the bottom.
about 3 years ago

We're putting together our cubes at the retreat.  Each face of the cube represents a goal of ours for the year. Most of mine have to do with Build in Progress. (:

October 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM
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