Etch words onto binder clips to add some attitude to your office supplies.
This is another quick and easy project to make on a laser cutter. (I just joined TechShop, and I now have access to all kinds of wonderful equipment, so this is one in a series of "I made it at TechShop" Instructables.) This project assumes that you have already had some training on safety and basic use of your particular model of laser cutter. My directions are based on my experience with a Trotech machine, but they are basically agnostic - they should work whether you are using an Epilog or Trotech machine.
Step 1: Materials:
Here are the materials I used:
a spare piece of white paper, for contrast
These were my tools:
Adobe Illustrator, for creating the words
a Trotech 100-watt laser cutter
Step 2: Preparation:
Prepare a vector file with a single word or short phrase in it.
Size the word to fit on one of your clips.
Format the file for your laser cutter.
Step 3: Etching:
Fold the "legs" of your binder clip to an angle in order to make the surface of the clip parallel with the laser cutter cutting bed. You want the surface you are etching to be a consistent distance from the laser, so that the laser stays in focus.
Place your clip on the cutting bed.
Use a focusing jig to be sure the laser is the correct distance from the clip.
Set your power and speed settings to the default for Stone > Marble. (Why Stone > Marble? Because after lots of failed (too faint) attempts, those settings seemed to work to mark the hard black surface of my binder clips. Binder clips are cheap. Your laser settings may vary. I began with the default settings for stainless steel and adapted from there... )
After your word has etched once, open the laser cutter and look carefully at your clip without touching it. Is the word etched deeply enough? If not, you may want the laser to make another pass to etch it more deeply. I wanted my words to be clear, so I went with 2 passes.
Step 4: Finished:
Here are two of the clips I made - fun presents for the office. They are also a big hit with some middle school students I know. The etching is not super high-contrast, even after two passes, but I prefer to think of it a subtle.