Educational Stuff

Working with us can be a little complicated.  We work in a lot of different mediums, with a lot of different processes and procedures.  This is our attempt to pull back the curtain a little, answer some common questions, and help you avoid some of the most common problems.

Can you give me a quote over the phone.

No, we can’t.  At a minimum, we have to see a file, or generate one for you.  Even then, we have figure out the equipment to use, calculate the distance cut, the speed we can cut, and the cost of materials, whether it needs masking, how to mask it, whether and how it needs unmasking, and whether there are any other finishing steps and the labor required to get it done.

We are very, very good at our job, but even when we know the answers to all of those questions off the top of our head, we still have to make sure that we didn’t forget any, and that we priced them all correctly – and that just takes a little time.

Why do you need a file?

Everything depends on the design.  Seeing and being able to measure the complexity of the design effects everything from the materials that we are able to produce it in, to minimum/maximum size it can be, to the equipment and production methods we can use, to how much labor goes into handling, finishing and cleanup.

For example, a 5×7 laser cut invitation can reasonably have between 24 inches (perimeter only) to over 350 inches of laser cutting – and it isn’t always easy to tell how much cutting is actually stuffed into that space.  Since the laser has to traverse that entire distance, that means that a complex cut can literally cost 16x as much as a simple one just for the laser cutting… and it is actually more complex than that because lots of tiny, simple shapes often take longer than fewer shapes with longer perimeters.

Can you cut metal?

No.  We can mark on some metals, but in the world of laser cutting, your equipment is generally configured to be able to cut metal well, or to be able to do any other material well. We chose the latter.

That being said, there are a lot of amazing materials out there that look like metal, or actually have metal films applied to them that we can (and often do) cut.

In terms of marking, our style of laser creates a beautiful and highly detailed white mark on anodized aluminum.  The resolution is good enough to achieve some stunning photographic reproductions.

Can you cut "X"

Unless X is metal, the answer is “maybe”.  Acrylics cut well, as do most papers, natural fibers, leathers and textiles. Some things, like “true” vinyls/PVC’s like Sintra pose a health and safety hazard.   However many things that we often think of as vinyls are actually polyethylenes, polypropylenes, and polystyrenes – most of which are safe to cut, with varying degrees of quality. Others materials, like true ebony, or plywoods made with certain kinds of glues, are poorly suited to cutting with heat, and simply ruin the material you are trying to cut

If you are uncertain, feel free to bring us a sample.  We’re happy to test it to see if it is safe, and to see what kind of resolution and cut quality can be achieved.

Popular Old Stuff

Some articles, projects and blog posts from the old site continue to be useful to people.  If you don’t fid them in the Reference section or elsewhere, they are probably here.