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Working Question

Health and Safety


Problem solving 

Term 3

Working Question


How do I develop transferable skills which can be adapted to a variety of scenarios, projects, and techniques, and help in thinking outside the box?

In other words, how can I use the skills I learn in one area to aid in another, especially when it's something that one normally wouldn't expect. Flexible thinking is very important, especially in jobs where we have to be constantly problem solving and experimenting! A good example of flexible techniques is CAD drawing - it can be used for designing, laser cutting, models, full-scale pieces.


You can use a laser cutter to turn sketches into pendants - or a spaceship!



CAD Drawing 101

The Basics

- Ideal for translating files from other programs (such as sketchup or drawings) to printable vectors. 

- Also suitable for designing on the program. 

- Exports files in a variety of formats suitable for other programs/machinery like CNC machines. 

Health and Safety

- Go easy on your eyes to avoid strain - take regular breaks and/or perform eye exercises.

Personal Projects


- Import drawing

- Vectorise image

- Scale down to 5cm tall

- Seperate layers (scan, inside cut, outside cut) - different colours

- Group according to black or clear acrylic (aesthetic differences)

- Resize hole depending on scale 

Group Project (or why Sketchup is the actual worst) 

- Import sketchup file

- Scream 

- Scale down

- Check for duplicate layers and random lines

- Scream 

- Fix curves so they are actual curves

- Why is there a ghost circle?! 

- Scream 

- Nest layers

- Where the f**k did all those extra dots come from

- Repeat

- Scream

Exporting for CNCing:

- Fillet edges where things will butt up against other things

- Select all small holes - make them pockets. 

(we did 14mm cut for 12mm piece, 3 passes, 6mm end mill) 

- Select all internal cuts - make them profiles. 

(we did 14mm cut for 12mm piece, 3 passes, 6mm end mill, tabs 5mm wide x 7mm thick, inside left machine vectors) 

- Select all external cuts - make them profiles. 

(we did 14mm cut for 12mm piece, 3 passes, 6mm end mill, tabs 5mm wide x 7mm thick, outside right machine vectors) 

- Run simulator, correct any faults 

- Export all visual toolpaths as a plt file. 

Exporting to Laserworks:

- Simply make sure your layers are correct, all vectors are closed, and nothing is being weird. 

- Double check nothing is being weird. 

- Triple check nothing is being weird. 

Learning Opportunities

- Double check all vectors are closed

- Double check all lines are on the correct layers, no duplicates

- Double check all pendant holes are the correct size and position 

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FIinal final finalk - Copy.png
Final final - Copy.png
dog and t bones.png

Laser Works


Just a wee bit janky, but it'll do the trick!

Let the experimentation begin!

The Basics

- Designed to help layout files on a laser cutter bed

- You can set speed and power for scanning (etching) or cutting, and the order of cuts. 

- Bed size is adjustable to match machine. 

- You can draw bounds to check you are cutting within the bounds of the materials. 

- Save to ufile (or rld) to save layout.

- Click Start from Here to begin cutting.

Health and Safety

- Go easy on your eyes to avoid strain - take regular breaks and/or perform eye exercises.

Personal Projects


- Import DXF file from V-carve

- Double check layer settings and order of cuts

- Preview to confirm

- Measure materials and layout to match

- Create and fit as many pendants as possible in the space, with reasonable margins

- Draw bounds to confirm

- Triple check layer settings and order of cuts

Group Project 

- Processes for group project were the same as personal process, only with model pieces for bathysphere. I neglected to take photos of it while we were printing, and thus have no progress shots of this part.

- We used mostly scraps (plus one full sheet) to minimise cost and maximise learning opportunities. 

Learning Opportunities

- I measured scrap pieces in sections for complex pieces, and created temporary guideline boxes to help map it out

- When I had to start and stop printing frequently, I laid out the pendants in rows so that I could print a row at a time without making it tricky to resume again later. 

- I turned the etching speed up to 300 during later cuts to help speed up the process without sacrificing quality. 


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Laser Cutter


Fun fun funnity fun!

The Basics

- Turn on the four switches - extractor 1, laser cutter, extractor 2, and cooling system. 

- Use the laptop beside it to communicate with the machine (or you can put a usb directly into the machine). 

Health and Safety 

- Wear a respirator 

- Do not look at the laser 

- Keep fingers clear of moving parts 

- Stay with the machine while it works

Personal Projects

- Start the machine (all four switches), and the laptop. 

- Position the material, ensuring that the focus is correct (using the acrylic guides to adjust the laser as required). 

- Make sure laserwork settings are correct for your material - I used scan at 200/300 speed, 20 power, and cut at 10 speed, 50 power for 3mm acrylic. 

- Once you've ensured it fits the material (draw bounds, etc.) you can either do a test cut, or go straight on to printing the whole thing (I generally did a test cut). 

- Keep an eye on the machine in case anything goes wrong during cutting. 

- Make sure you collect all the little pieces at the end - some will have fallen through. 

Group Project 

- Same processes as above for laser cutting the model pieces. They were then dry-fitted to make sure they worked, then glued together. Faults such as the curves (or lack thereof) of the beams was corrected for the full scale model. 


- Lasercut MDF was used for the outer plates of the full scale model, cut to size using the wall saw. 

- Some of the outer plates were modified to include holes for greeblies. We worked in groups of 2-3 to design and cut these sections (I was absent during the design and laser cutting part of this process, and we went into lockdown before we could begin fitting the greeblies. 

Health and Safety (Model Gluing) 

- Wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection while gluing

- Work in the spray booth while gluing

Learning Opportunities

- You can adjust machine starting position to make cutting easier. 

- Laser cutter must be cleaned periodically to ensure clean etching. 

- If etching is too close to bounds, you can create a small square (not printed) that will help convince the laser cutter that everything is hunky dory. 

- When gluing models together, make sure you place pieces in the correct order so everything fits together properly. 

- Keep all pieces together so nothing goes missing. 


CNC Machine


The Diva of the Dungeon 

The Basics

- Used for cutting designs into wood based on computer files exported from programs like v-carve. 

Health and Safety 

- Make sure there are no obstructions

- Check machine for visible faults/dust/wear and tear

- Ear, eye, and breathing protection 

- Stay with the machine while it works

- Keep body parts away from the machine - this is not an episode of Bones. 

- Leave on slow speed - high speed will short it out. 

- If you must do something on the bed while the machine is running, either pause the job or be certain what you are doing is out of the line of the blade. 

Learning Opportunities

- Add extra screws where the wood is bowed (but make sure they sit beneath the surface, and aren't in the way of the machine/toolpaths. 

- Measure bit with calipers to ensure it is correct.

- Ensure that the pieces being cut are not too close to each other or the edges of the wood.

- Ensure screws holding the board down are placed where they will not collide with the bit before cutting. Stay to watch in case anything goes wrong. 

- Make sure the tabs are the correct size for the surface. The first cut with 3D tabs proved too small, and the tabs were adjusted before the rest were cut. 

Group Project 

- Position wood and screw down (mindful of bows) 

- Put on bit and skirt

- Dust off machine, and put one drop of one drop on each rail

- Turn on water cooling and air

- Turn machine on 

- Set z axis zero on a level piece of the wood, then bring back up 

- Set xy axis zeros on front left corner of the wood (for this particular cut, may vary depending on the project) 

- Hit run -> udisk (okay) -> highlight file you want. 

- Double check air pressure 

- Turn on extractor

- Press okay twice (watch the plummet). 

- Stay with the machine until the job is complete. 

- Repeat. A lot. 

- Sand. A lot. 

- Dry fit and assemble (I was unfortunately absent for this part)



A whole new world

The Basics

- Used to create a negative copy of simple objects by heating up plastic that is then pressed over the object and the air vacuumed out. 

- Can also be used to inflate the plastic. 

- Tank assist is available for extra power - see instruction sheets for details. 

Health and Safety 

- Make sure you are using the correct materials.

- Beware the heat of the heating elements. 

Learning Opportunities

- Place objects carefully to avoid webbing.

- Overhands may be problematic

Group Project 

- I was absent during production of the light fittings and windows, and did not have the opportunity upon return to examine what they had done. I hope to work more with this technique when doing greebly boards. 

Vac Former



Part 1

Working Question:

How do I develop transferable skills which can be adapted to a variety of scenarios, projects, and techniques, and help in thinking outside the box?

During this term (so far) I was able to use the techniques I had learned in the context of constructing a model and set and transfer them to making small charms. This allowed me to experiment and familiarise myself with the programs and machinery, as well as growing confidence. My experimenting early on enabled me to assist other students later in the process and during group work. 


I worked hard this term to communicate with my classmates and try to prioritise learning opportunities for all rather than jumping on a task because I already knew how to do it. My absence during the full-scale build meant I wasn't able to contribute as much as I would have liked to that stage; however, I believe I will have more opportunities to contribute later on when we get to assembling details such as the greebly board, and painting.  


Health and Safety: 

I am focussed on health and safety, and was careful to follow protocols and keep an eye out for possible hazards and my classmates. There was some confusion about whether a mask was strictly necessary in the laser cutter room, and there was a degree of mockery that came with wearing PPE there given most people consider it a low risk; even so, I decided to wear my mask to be safe. I judged this to be especially important since I spent so long in the room before class most days. 

What I think I did well:

I took initiative with experimenting and expanding my knowledge of the laser cutter and associated programs. I came in early most days to work on the laser cutter and familiarise myself with the program and materials, and will happily do so again when we return. 

What I could Improve on: 

Because of my scheduled absence, I did not spend very much time on the full-scale build or designing the greebly boards. I'm disappointed I couldn't participate more during this time, and would like to be more involved when I can. 

Well, that's all for now! Stay safe, stay sane, and stay home! 


And where to find them

The Basics

- Eliminate if you can, substitute for safer options, control conditions/access, admin control, PPE. 

- Should be in plain sight at all main entries. 

- Organisations and employees have equal responsibility - Health and Safety act 2015. 

- Safety Data sheets should be easily accessible and thorough. 

Hazard Boards


Laser Works
Laser Cutter
CnC Machine
Vac former
Hazard Boards
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