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

Laser Name Tag: Bobby Zahn

I started my design planning with the idea that I wanted to use a gradient raster to make a detailed drawing on wood. I couldn’t find a way to easily make a smooth grayscale vector out of a rasterized image, so I decided to make the background a gradient with a simpler foreground. I’ve always liked horses and birds, so I picked a pegasus as my foreground image, with a pale moon and a simple gradient for the sky.

For the ground, I used a 7-colored solution to the Hadwiger-Nelson problem, implemented with shades of gray. I originally wanted to use a premade texture, but as before, I had trouble with converting multiple shades of gray to a vectorized image, so instead I made hexagons using the polygon tool and used the Create Tiled Clones tool to fill in the space.

I decided to make my nametag circular so that it could double as a drink coaster. I don’t anticipate having a use for a name tag any time soon, and I dislike having useless stuff, so I figured making a coaster would be a good compromise.

With that, I cut out my first draft:

I found that the gradient was too dark to properly make out the legs of the pegasus and my name above the wings. I liked how the moon and wings stood out from the rest of the image, but when I lightened the gradient and made my name bigger, the contrast was less obvious. In order to maintain the contrast, I cut the wings and moon out of acrylic instead. I wanted to keep the design flat, so I decided to inlay the the pieces instead of putting an extra layer on top of or behind the wood.

For my second draft, I made two versions: one with the wings and moon cut out, one just of wood in case the acrylic pieces did not fit properly. Unfortunately, I found that when printing, the image got cut off to an 8.5 x 11″ rectangle, so the wood-only version did not cut properly. I also switched to use the epilog laser cutter instead of the universal on the recommendation of one of the Fab Lab assistants.

Luckily, when I tried to inlay my acrylic pieces into the wood, they fit! I glued them in with normal Elmer’s glue, which worked surprisingly well. Here are pictures of the name tag pre-glue and while drying. I left the name tag to dry upside down so that the front side would be as flat as possible.

Overall, it was a pretty ambitious project but I was happy with how it turned out. There were slight gaps around the wings since the acrylic pieces were a bit smaller than the holes in the wood. If I were pickier, I could have made the cutouts in the wood slightly smaller, but the acrylic pieces stayed solidly attached despite the gaps, so I kept them as is.

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