Laser cutting is a technology that utilizes a high-power laser to cut and engrave various materials. Once primarily used for industrial manufacturing, it has begun to find its way into universities, small businesses, and general consumers.
The process works by directing a laser beam of high-intensity light into several different directions as it bounces off mirrors or "beam benders" before it's focused onto the cutting workspace. The laser beam has to be precisely focused so that the density of energy and heat in that spot is round and consistent enough to cut or engrave. Analogous to this is a magnifying glass directing the sun's rays onto a leaf to burn it.
With more public facilities granting access to laser cutting technology, anyone can easily learn, create, and share this kind of knowledge. From simple jewelry to complicated models and from cutting paper to metals, the possibilities of laser cutting are endless.
The teams in the laser cutting track will pursue various projects including, but are not limited to, producing sneeze guards for COVID-19 protection, developing solutions to problems faced by community centers, and large quantity laser cutting for fundraising efforts.
Teams are expected to work on 3 or more projects over the span of the 6-month program. We will help our teams find groups in their communities to donate to and will walk them through the problem-solving process. For the first month of the program, teams will be trained in using laser cutters and will attend weekly hour-long sessions to learn the basics of vector design for laser cutting. For the remainder of the program, teams are expected to meet on their own to complete 3 projects and will be required to attend monthly check-ins with the track organizer. They will set up all the laser cutting files at home or at school and then go to the workspace to load and wait for all their files to be cut and engraved. Additionally, all teams must attend monthly Entrepreneurial workshops and are required to be active, contributing, and present in the Discord community.
For any teams looking for additional support, track organizers will be hosting Office Hours every week and dedicated design experts will be available at all times via Discord.
Materials: Laser Cutter, Inkscape, SketchUp