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Project Center Director Brad Niven shown next to the new Epilog Laser Cutter.

The Bay School Project Center’s Engineering Lab recently  received a generous donation of a 35-watt laser cutter courtesy of the Bunker family.  A laser cutter works much like an ink jet printer in that it uses X and Y axes to move the laser beam to specific coordinates on the table based on a computer file. The laser can engrave or cut through wood and plastic materials up to .25” thick. Students who wish to generate parts on the laser cutter first create a file in Adobe Illustrator or a similar graphic program, and then “print” the file to the laser cutter. After placing the raw materials on a honeycomb web of thin metal, the beam burns through the material based on specific settings.

Having a laser cutter enables the Engineering program to generate shapes and components that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to create using more standard machine shop tools likes saws and mills. Shapes or components with intricate curves, or inside right angles (like square windows within a larger piece of plastic) are difficult to do manually, so the laser cutter will allow students to produce single or multiple parts from one file and each component will be created with the same accuracy as any other.

Since we installed the cutter, students have used it for a range of projects, from creating L-shaped arms for a mechanism, wooden wheels for a mousetrap racer, robotic claw jaws, or multiple pieces of organically shaped plastic that will be stacked together to form a more complex component. It is a great addition to our growing program and we are grateful for the generous contribution.

Click here to view the laser cutter in action.