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Laser: Puzzles and map puzzles

So it turns out that one of the natural application of a laser cutter/engraver is a map-puzzle. And indeed, it is precisely the case, as the fine beam of light easily slices through intricate details that no scrollsaw can match, and without the hassle, price, and maintenance of a jigsaw cutting machine for low-volume production (and by “low” I mean “one” – more on that later).

Click for SVG

I had to break it down into 2 parts, because my machine has a working area of only 220mm x 295mm.

LaserBit (now Johnson Plastics) sells laserable magnet sheets with backing adhesive. You would stick the magnet sheet to your material using the adhesive layer, then cut the whole block on your laser. It was obviously made with fridge magnets in mind, and so I thought, “what would be more cool than a fridge magnet map-puzzle?” and “why hasn’t this idea popped up in Thingiverse before?”

Unfortunately, the answer to the second question became clear the moment the first half came out of the laser. The magnet sheet, while laserable, creates a fine mist of magnetic grime that covers everything in a layer of black soot that could not be simply wiped away. Even with masking tapes on both sides of the material, the amount of soot embedded in the wood grain on the side of the plywood was incredible. It took me a whole week to remove most of that soot from the puzzle; and the fact that Vietnam has 63 provinces, all with irregular borders, did not help.

And it soon became clear that I did not clear out all that soot. I cleaned the puzzle with rubbing alcohol and tapes.  While it seemed like I could handle the pieces without blackening my fingers, putting it on the fridge for a week left behind a mark of rust, meaning some of the particle is still there, stuck to my fridge, and being fine iron powder, oxidized quickly.

This is the first and will probably be the last fridge magnet puzzle that I make with a laser cutter. 2 passes @ 16mm/s 13mA; 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood + magnet sheet

I did not take any photo of that mess. I did not even want to touch my phone after handling the stuff, for fear of tiny magnetic dust particles will stick into delicate parts of the phone with magnets (like speakers and vibrator motor) and break them.

Still pretty, though, and a good learning experience. Now I have this one-of-a-kind map puzzle on my fridge with a story to tell. Other puzzles I made after this were more successful.

Stick with regular jigsaw for now.  1/8″ Baltic birch plywood, 1 pass, 12mm/s @ 13mA

…Or 3D puzzles. Same setting as above


Dory • June 11, 2017

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