• Elísabet Soffía Bender

Week Four - Laser Cutting

This week I continued to learn how to set up my illustrator workspace. I have now learned how to make and save actions, brushes and graphic styles to make my workspace the way I wanted and so it will be easier to draw tech flat and whatever else I want to draw in illustrator.

I had some questions for my lecturer about illustrator this week. I didn’t know how to turn a picture into vectors and I didn´t quite understand how to save something to my workspace and get it back if I lost it. After getting the help I needed I feel like I understand the software a bit more.

Like I mentioned in previous blogs I was going to explore laser cutting. My lecturer has recommended a book called “Laser Cutting for Fashion and Textiles” and is written by Laura Berens Baker. I found the book for around 9£ on Amazon and just because of the price I decided to go on and buy it. I just got the book this week and started to read it to step a bit away from illustrator.

The book goes in detail how to laser cut for fashion and how to set up Illustrator files to laser cut. I made some notes from the book and I thought I’d share my notes here as I thought it will benefit me now and hopefully someone else in the future.

The laser cutter has surface-embellishment that can be used to upcycle all sorts of different fabrics. The cutter can not only cut out and engrave things into the fabric, but it can also be engineered to cut out patterns for a complete garment. From a single piece of cloth (Berens Baker, 2016). This is something that I find really interesting because I would have never thought to laser cut my patterns out.

Now that the laser cutting technology has become more accessible, it has made its mark on fashion and many designers have used laser cutting in their work. There is a range of fabrics that are suitable for laser cutting. Most of the fabrics that are used are natural fabrics like; felt, linen, cotton and silk (Berens Baker, 2016). When I started looking at fabrics for laser cutting, I came to the conclusion of using felt, cotton (most likely waxed cotton) and hopefully some more fabrics as well.

The projects in the book have different materials all from pony skins to faux suede and jersey to leather along with polyester, wool and fleece and many more. Fabrics like Polyester, silks, wool, felt, paper, leathers, fleece and acetate all work very well for laser cutting. The reason for that is because the cutter fuses the edges and that will prevent the fabrics from frying. Fabrics like denim, fleece, suede and reflective and coated fabrics are good for etching (Berens Baker, 2016). I found this information very useful towards my fabric searching for my samples. But the book has even more useful information about what fabrics to use.

The book goes on about other materials that can be used such as ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), styrene, polypropylene and some other plastics, block foam, cork, paper and card, rubber and other fabrics that include: felt, denim, linen, nylon, neoprene and chiffon (Berens Baker, 2016). I do feel as if I am repeating myself by listing the same fabrics over and over again. But not all fabrics can be used in laser cutters. The Books says the cutters that can be found in art colleges are CO2 machines. These machines have the power to output 85w. The machines cut materials by melting, burning or vaporizing them. The laser cutters can cut through most but not all materials. Although the cutters can engrave into hard materials like glass, ceramics and hardwoods like play wood, it is advised to avoid materials that may include PVC as it produces acid smokes inside the cutter (Berens Baker, 2016). Because some polyester may include PVC. I am struggling to find a list of things that are used to make polyester. I feel like I need to use polyester to see how it responds to the laser cutter but in the induction, at Leeds Art, I was told I cannot use fabrics that maintain PVC and if I can’t prove that the fabric that I am using cannot laser cut it so that is a part of my current struggles at the moment.

The laser cutter doesn’t only cut pattern pieces, but it can also decorate things by cutting, scoring or engraving (etching). If you only want to scar the material you can either engrave into it or score into it but bear in mind that engraving cuts deeper into the material than scoring does (Berens Baker, 2016). I plan to engrave into thicker fabrics and cut into the thinner ones although it might be interesting to see what happens if I engrave into the thinner fabrics as well.

After reading through this book I started by seeing what fabrics I had around my home studio. I realised I have felt that I bought for my final collection of my BA degree, fleece I was going to make some samples out of and some cotton that I have been making masks and shirts out of. Instead of buying everything I have decided to use what I got and try to buy as little as possible. As I said a bit earlier in the blog, I am struggling to find out what polyester has PVC in it and what polyester doesn’t, so I feel like I can’t start exploring it yet. I have found Denim that I would like to use that is 100% cotton. I will leave the links to the fabric information that I have found. The information that I have gotten about the fabrics that I found around my home studio.

I have booked a laser cutting appointment for Monday. In that appointment, I plan on recording the process to remember what to do the next time I go for an appointment. So, the main goal is to learn how things work. My appointment is only an hour, but I am preparing to get at least a wooden sample and some fabric samples in that time.

Although I have been focusing on getting laser cutting done, I have not forgotten about CLO3D. My trial period on CLO3D ended but the university just gave me a password to continue using it earlier this week, so I aim at starting to play around in the software next week.

I feel like I am getting somewhere with the laser cutting and illustrator and I plan on starting getting CLO3D to the same place as the other two outlets are.

Fabric info:









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