Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Project #1- Laser Name Tag

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to do something tech/sci-fi related. My first thought, since I had played it recently, was one of the keycards from the 2016 DOOM game. However, That shape ended up being more complicated than my limited skill with inkscape could handle, so I instead switched over to doing a keycard from the original Doom, and adding the new UAC (Evil Sci-Fi Corporation #476) logo from the 2016 game. I managed to find a mostly clean logo, but had to first whiten it in GIMP (think photoshop, but GNU) so that the bitmap tracer wouldn’t pick up the scratches and weathering, and then invert its color so that the logo itself was black, not the space surrounding it.

               Since I was putting a name and logo into something that was not intended to have them, I had to fiddle around quite a bit before I was happy with where the name and logo went. You can see one of my earlier ideas, which I rightly scrapped, below. I went with the “First Initial Last Name” style because I felt it fit better with the idea of a big corporate name tag, and it fit better on the tag. In the end, I took most of the major features of the keycard, and found that they made a lovely little rectangle for my name to go in, and found space in the top right for the UAC logo.

               I did my project out of mirrored red acrylic. In the lab, I was recommended to try rastering the mirrored layer off the bottom of the keycard, rather than rastering the acrylic on the top. This leaves the card with a very cool impression that the design is sunk into the card, because the parts that are rastered off are clear acrylic, while the rest is mirrored, while the entire surface of the card is smooth (and a fingerprint magnet, unfortunately). My one regret is that I also cut my piece from the bottom, and the heat from the laser slightly melted the edge of the mirrored backing, which is visible from the front (it can be seen along the bottom edge in the photo). Were I to do it again, I would cut from the top, and raster from the bottom. However, that is a minor gripe, and I am very happy with how my name tag turned out!

The final Design (Though I ended up increasing the name size)

An earlier design, with full name, a larger logo, and fewer features

The logo I cleaned up

the source material- Keycards from Doom

Cutting out the tag

The finished project

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Project #1 – Laser Name Tag

One of my ideas for the name tag came by accident– I caught sight of a Charmander silhouette while doing the wood exercise in my lab session. I liked the clean look and light hearted feel of the vector cut out in the final test product, and so I decided I wanted to incorporate something similar in my next design. However, finding something that conveyed as much in as little space as possible proved to be difficult and required me to think outside of the box. I found myself being drawn back to Pokemon, but initially resisted the impulse. I went through several ideas in my head: perhaps doing something related to urban planning, my profession, or doing something related to New York City, my hometown. Neither of these, on their own, felt entirely authentic. I draw frequently during my free time, and some principles the art has taught me is to create something that is an extension of yourself. The authenticity and sincerity of that goal would reflect in the art as well.

When my colleagues would see my Charmander name tag, they would ask if I was a Pokemon fan and if I truly was a fan of Charmander. I would reply that while Charmander wasn’t necessarily my favorite, Squirtle was. Eventually I would find my way back to the Squirtle idea, and with it a realization that if nothing at all, it was a conversation starter. In urban planning/community development, getting people to come to a consensus and form an action plan is a difficult task. Not that Pokemon would necessarily solve this problem, but it would at least get people talking. 

I did not think I would seriously consider Pokemon as a vehicle to convey thoughts and the general philosophy around community engagement. But, given the weight of the research I do on a day to day basis, this felt at once a light departure from and a sudden arrival to my professional interests. I also decided to include other tidbits into my design– particularly, a title that I felt best conveyed my work, and a nod to my hometown and my current city. I’ve moved a lot in the last few years, so this piece felt relevant.

The conceptualization of the design was both frustrating and exciting. It required me to push myself to think differently about what I do, and about what a name tag does. While it’s important that the name tag reflect who I am, it was equally important that the name tag resonated with others. What exactly that would look like varies from person to person. Having friends and peers provide insight on my ideas in the initial phase was extremely beneficial. I was worried I would not have enough space to say all that I wanted to say, so in that respect I learned the importance of brevity and clarity. 

Sketching on Inkscape

Laser cutting time!

Final product!

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Project 1 – Laser Cut Name Tag

This week, we used the laser cutter to create personal name tags.

I’ve never used a laser cutting machine before so the lab and assignment were really fun, educational processes. First, I started with the design. I wasn’t sure about the theme or sentiment I wanted my name tag to give off (funny, professional, dorky, cool??) so I started doing some sketches. As you can see in the first picture below, they’re all pretty basic. In the end, I went for the city silhouette border as I really dug the non-conventional borders on the name tags some of us did during the lab session. 

I used inkscape to create the design. Shoutout to Clinton Gandy (an inkscape pro) for helping me with the software! As I was making the design (second picture below), I thought the tag was looking sparse and I should add something else. Since it was a city themed name tag and I am from Chicago, I put the Chicago flag stars in there. I don’t like to put the Chicago stars/flag on any thing I create because I think they’re quite overdone but I thought they looked neat in this project.

I chose a two tone acrylic (red) and realized I would have to inverse the color I had set in my original design (picture two). Since I was not using wood, the raster from the laser cutter would not make the raster parts (black) darker, but lighter/white. If I wanted the red to pop out the way I intended it to, I needed to inverse the colors. A friend and a couple other people working in the lab helped me set the machine up to cut the name tag. I’m really satisfied with the final product — it came out a lot better than I thought it would.

               Sketch Ideas

         Creating on Inkscape

              Laser Cutting….

                          Awesome! End product.




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Exemplar Project Writeup- Priya Mittal

3D Model from storyboard

Initially my thoughts were all over the place. It was ranging from making Harry Potter themed designs to building a basic solar system using sculptis. Eventually though, I settled upon my design by understanding the fact that Sculptris works best when trying to design somewhat spherical figures. Therefore, I started to design Togepi (Pokemon), tha’s round and could be made perfectly with the help of this software.


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Project #1 – Laser Name Tag

Originally I was thinking of using concepts or images related to urban planning (my field of study) – street layouts, skylines, etc.  While I was brainstorming, I thought of a round of “The Name Game” (icebreaker where you give your name and an adjective that starts with the same letter as your name) I had been part of last semester during a group meeting.  I went with “Scary Sarah,” and after I remembered this I thought of getting a cute monster to incorporate along with this name on my name tag.  


A google search for “cute monster vector” led me to this image, where my eye was drawn to the monster in the upper left.  I traced over the monster in Illustrator to give me more flexibility in moving it around, setting colors, etc.  Then, I looked for a font that was suitably scary (ended up with Verveine), and traced over the letters since it wasn’t available for download.  

The design develops

I had thought of using the same “S” for scary and Sarah in my original concept, and my friend had the idea to make the monster hold the S, or make it his tail.  My friend also suggested adding a border, which made it look extra polished in the end.  Another friend reminded me that if I wanted the monster to be in color, I would have to invert the colors from my original drawing.  I had been picturing making it with green/white two toned acrylic, and luckily there was a sheet in the scrap box.

Ideas from friends!

During cutting

The finished product looked great!  A friendly makerspace-r gave me some tips on post-cut finishing: scrubbing with a toothbrush and using a heater to get rid of the bend in the tag.  My favorite part of this project was seeing how it truly was a collaborative process.  During each step, my decisions and ideas were shaped by other people, and it all led to a final product that was much better than I could have made alone (and more fun along the way).  

All done!


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Exemplar Project Writeup- Xue Yan Chen

Advanced Vinyl Sticker

When I was told to make a griffin sticker, the first thing that came to my mind was the cloud because I love its curly shape for whatever reason. I originally wanted to combine the cloud with a cat, however, the design didn’t work out well. So, I changed my mind and ended up choosing a deer. At first, I had no idea how could I combined a deer and a cloud together to created something that’s meaningful and aesthetic. By randomly moving the cloud around the deer, magic happened, I got a snail! And I was glad that I chose to print in gold because it really stands out. 

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Exemplar Project Writeup- Christine Huh

Laser Name Tag

It was satisfying to be able to create my own design from start to finish. 

Before class, I wasn’t really sure about the design of my name tag.  After playing around with Inkscape during lab, I decided that I didn’t want it to be the standard rectangular name tag shape, but something different with a little bit more shape. So I chose an apple shape.  It’s an reference to my parents’ business and my job as a teacher. I also chose to write hello in English, Korean, and Spanish; the three languages that I speak, study, and teach. For the material, I found two acrylic pieces that I liked, so I chose layer them and join them with acrylic solvent cement. 

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Exemplar Project Writeup- Heather Brown

Soft Circuit

For this project, I was immediately drawn to the embroidered patches on the wall of the FabLab. I have sewn a little bit, but it has been several years since I have attempted any projects. The thought of being able to create your own patch seemed like an interesting challenge. In approaching the assignment, I wanted to have a light-hearted concept because I had been overthinking previous projects. After tossing around several ideas, I decided to design a scientific theme patch with a play on words. The project was not without learning opportunities as I struggled to development my concept into an image that was compatible with the embroidering machine. The process of embroidering was helpful to observe as I might lay out my design differently especially with regard to lettering. In addition, it took several attempts at sewing a functioning parallel circuit in-spite of drawing it out on paper. While the project is not without problems, I enjoyed the process and hope to create more patches applying what I have learned.

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Exemplar Project Write Up- Sam Fu

Locomotive Pom Pom Bot

Initial Design

I wanted to create a robot with one arm with 2 hinges to rotate on. These arms would alternate between rowing the contraption using the rowing arm and resetting the rowing arm in a loop. It would move forward ever so slightly by making contact with the table surface at the bottom of each rowing motion. I wasn’t quite decided on how the base of the device would look, as that didn’t seem too important. I just knew I wanted to construct it out of popsicle sticks and hot glue, although I had not yet thought of how pompoms would fit into the design.

Sketch Image-  arduino0.jpg

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Exemplar Project Writeup – Zhan Chen

My initial proposal was to realistic 3d print of a mediaeval knight armor from scratch. The purpose of the print would acting as a scarecrow for my cats and preventing them from pushing fragile object off the table. The original design was supposed to be a realistic warrior of some sort, the aesthetic focus would be making it look as intimidating as possible.

Original Model












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