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Re: [PPLetterpress] Laser cutting questions

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  • joefreedman
    ... Katie, We have a couple laser cutters including one 50 watt machine that cuts through 1/4 cherry hardwood very easily. I did at one point try imaging a
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 16, 2003
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      >I seem to remember a discussion awhile back about some people who were
      >experimenting with laser cutting as a way to get relief plates, as opposed
      >to polymer. I'm wondering if a)it works for letterpress; b)it's at all cost

      Katie,

      We have a couple laser cutters including one 50 watt machine that
      cuts through 1/4 cherry hardwood very easily. I did at one point try
      imaging a photopolymer plate on the laser with not great results. If
      your goal is just to find an alternative to photopolymer I don't
      think lasers are the way to go. It is much faster to make a negative
      and plate than using a cutting laser. And the quality will be better
      on a well made plate.

      There are two modes that the lasers use: vector and raster. Vector
      drives the laser around the edge usually for cutting through a
      material while raster is used for engraving. Raster is capable of
      1000 dpi but quality is very dependent on speed. The slower it goes
      the better the quality. Some files can take up to an hour to image
      for only 18 or 20 square inches. Usually we find a compromise point
      between absolute edge resolution and timeliness.

      Lasers are great for digital diecuts and complicated, repetitive
      cuts. We mostly work from Freehand/Illustrator files but most shops
      should be able to handle Corel and cad files as well. You can see
      some of our stuff showing fineness of cuts at our website:

      http://www.sarabande.com

      Best

      Joe
    • Fritz Klinke
      I don t know the details, but flexo printers use such a system for cutting relief plates in rubber. I just talked to one this past week who called for
      Message 2 of 9 , Mar 16, 2003
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        I don't know the details, but flexo printers use such a system for cutting
        relief plates in rubber. I just talked to one this past week who called for
        assistance with their Vandercook, as even though the plates are cut direct
        from a computer file, errors still creep in and it is far better to catch
        errors at the plate stage than to be on press, or print the job and then
        find the mistake.

        Fritz Klinke, NA Graphics
        1314 Greene Street, P.O. Box 467
        Silverton, Colorado 81433 USA
        970-387-0212, fax 970-387-0127
        nagraph@...

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Katie Harper" <knharper@...>
        To: <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, March 16, 2003 5:17 PM
        Subject: [PPLetterpress] Laser cutting questions




        I seem to remember a discussion awhile back about some people who were
        experimenting with laser cutting as a way to get relief plates, as opposed
        to polymer. I'm wondering if a)it works for letterpress; b)it's at all cost
        effective, and c) can laser cutters read the usual types of graphics files
        that service bureaus can, ie, Quark, Illustrator, etc.? I'm told that some
        laser cutters work from a CAD environment, and there is not much available
        in CAD software for Mac, is there?

        Thanks for any help/advice.

        Katie Harper
        Ars Brevis Press
        Cincinnati, OH
        513-233-9588
        http://www.arsbrevispress.com
      • David Goodrich
        The laser process doesn t seem like a practical alternative to photopolymer for creating new text plates from computer files, but it sounds as if it could be
        Message 3 of 9 , Mar 16, 2003
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          The laser process doesn't seem like a practical alternative to photopolymer
          for creating new text plates from computer files, but it sounds as if it
          could be perfect for producing replicas of missing letters or additional
          sorts for wood type fonts. Has anyone used it for this?
          Are there shops where something like this could be jobbed out? I would not
          want to invest in laser equipment to produce a handful of letters.

          David Goodrich

          >I seem to remember a discussion awhile back about some people who were
          >experimenting with laser cutting as a way to get relief plates, as opposed
          >to polymer. I'm wondering if a)it works for letterpress; b)it's at all cost

          Katie,

          We have a couple laser cutters including one 50 watt machine that
          cuts through 1/4 cherry hardwood very easily. I did at one point try
          imaging a photopolymer plate on the laser with not great results. If
          your goal is just to find an alternative to photopolymer I don't
          think lasers are the way to go. It is much faster to make a negative
          and plate than using a cutting laser. And the quality will be better
          on a well made plate.

          There are two modes that the lasers use: vector and raster. Vector
          drives the laser around the edge usually for cutting through a
          material while raster is used for engraving. Raster is capable of
          1000 dpi but quality is very dependent on speed. The slower it goes
          the better the quality. Some files can take up to an hour to image
          for only 18 or 20 square inches. Usually we find a compromise point
          between absolute edge resolution and timeliness.

          Lasers are great for digital diecuts and complicated, repetitive
          cuts. We mostly work from Freehand/Illustrator files but most shops
          should be able to handle Corel and cad files as well. You can see
          some of our stuff showing fineness of cuts at our website:

          http://www.sarabande.com

          Best

          Joe



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        • Gerald Lange
          Hi David When we had originally discussed this that was a suggestion of mine. I think it would work well for this purpose. But as others have mentioned it is
          Message 4 of 9 , Mar 16, 2003
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            Hi David

            When we had originally discussed this that was a suggestion of mine. I
            think it would work well for this purpose. But as others have mentioned
            it is quite expensive. There is one at an institution I work for and we
            are billed something like $80 per hour for usage (which is probably
            cheap?). And these don't exactly cut all that fast. I doubt you could
            invest in laser cutting equipment unless you were daddy warbucks or
            something. Prices are somewhat astronomical and they are high
            maintenance. There are signage shops and the like that use these and I
            suspect that jobbing the work out wouldn't hurt too much ($$$)?

            But given the costs I wouldn't think you'd want to create an entire font
            though it might work well as a way to replace missing characters that
            you just can't live without. Its really just a matter of getting the
            finished piece to type high. Laser cutters don't cut all that deep, or
            perhaps I should say it this way, the deeper the laser has to cut the
            slower it goes.

            We would do the outlines (which the laser follows) in Illustrator and
            those would be imported into Corel, which is the software that ran the
            lasers. I was thinking of making my door sign with this stuff but never
            got around to it.

            Gerald

            David Goodrich wrote:

            >The laser process doesn't seem like a practical alternative to photopolymer
            >for creating new text plates from computer files, but it sounds as if it
            >could be perfect for producing replicas of missing letters or additional
            >sorts for wood type fonts. Has anyone used it for this?
            >Are there shops where something like this could be jobbed out? I would not
            >want to invest in laser equipment to produce a handful of letters.
            >
            >David Goodrich
            >
            >
            >
            >>I seem to remember a discussion awhile back about some people who were
            >>experimenting with laser cutting as a way to get relief plates, as opposed
            >>to polymer. I'm wondering if a)it works for letterpress; b)it's at all cost
            >>
            >>
            >
            >
            >
            >
          • joefreedman
            Gerald, ... Our rate is much cheaper but I m not sure about sign guys in general. I think $75 to $80 is about right. ... You still need an outline. If the
            Message 5 of 9 , Mar 17, 2003
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              Gerald,

              >it is quite expensive. There is one at an institution I work for and we
              >are billed something like $80 per hour for usage (which is probably

              Our rate is much cheaper but I'm not sure about sign guys in general.
              I think $75 to $80 is about right.

              >But given the costs I wouldn't think you'd want to create an entire font
              >though it might work well as a way to replace missing characters that

              You still need an outline. If the letter was completely missing you'd
              have to recreate it keeping the overall weight of the alphabet in
              mind. Once the outline is done you could make a vector cut very
              quickly (well under 3 minutes per letter) out of 1/4 inch maple.
              Perhaps this could be mounted to a block so its type high. If you
              were to raster the same letter it would take much longer--maybe 15 or
              20 minutes per letter.

              There are computer driven engraving machines that might do a better
              job. Roland makes one and some Sherline milling machines are also cad
              file driven.


              Joe
            • Gerald Lange
              Joe If you are making this available as a service would you like me to place entries in the Links section and the Database? Like your website, and the free
              Message 6 of 9 , Mar 17, 2003
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                Joe

                If you are making this available as a service would you like me to
                place entries in the Links section and the Database?

                Like your website, and the free font Rant!!!

                Gerald



                > Our rate is much cheaper but I'm not sure about sign guys in general.
                > I think $75 to $80 is about right.
                >
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