View Full Version : Weeding card

Darren Null
12-22-2008, 6:51 PM
I have an unusual laser setup with no free space whatsoever, so the rest of you guys may take this as read, but it was a revelation to me.

I've been doing a fair amount of poking small shapes out of card, it being xmas and all. Up until recently; I've been doing it standing up, having a poke with a reasonably-sized poking implement and collecting the bit on the other side with fingernails/pliers/whatever.

The problem with that method is that 1) it takes too bloody long and 2) your fingertips pick up the charring from the edges of the cutouts and you end up with sooty fingerprints all over your work.

Obviously this is a problem. I determined that my massive intellect should be applied to the problem, and thus wandered off to the pub in a thoughtful and determined mood.

I came back. Eventually. With not one, but two revolutionary ideas. Unusually for pub ideas, they both work quite well (unlike the -simultaneously conceived- idea of taking over the world with trained midgets posing as children each running a flotilla of trained and wired-for-sound-vision-and-internet hamsters*) and here they are:

1) Flick the card around the areas you want to weed first. Lots of bits fall out, thus saving time.

2) Get yourself a flat surface, with a covering to protect the surface if expensive. A desk blotter would be ideal and I dream of that. Desk. Bloody luxury. I used the back of a tobacco pouch on the table. Get yourself a flat-headed screwdriver in the size of the smallest bits you have to weed. And here's the secret bit:
Rather than poking the bit out; use the screwdriver to pin the bit to your surface and gently lift the card away, holding it by the edge. The bits stay on the table and you don't touch anything with your hands. Also, the process is much faster than anything I've tried yet.

*Too cute for security checks...I'm still reworking the idea with young coatamundis disguised as kittens.

Dee Gallo
12-22-2008, 7:26 PM
Hey Darren, I use a seam ripper - it's a sewing implement with 2 tiny pointy things which poke the heck out of small bits, on cardboard, acrylic, etc. Very handy.

cheers, dee

Margaret Turco
12-22-2008, 7:29 PM
Good idea! I sometimes use masking tape to remove parts while a sheet is still in the laser so I don't have to move the sheet. It might work to weed out small shapes like you're talking about, too. A nail set or even the point of a knife might work too.

Darren Null
12-22-2008, 7:42 PM
I'm no expert on sewing implements. A seam ripper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seam_ripper) (always wondered what those were for) sounds OK, but something with less of a point and more of an edge works better. The point about my newly-discovered technique, though, is that it almost doesn't matter what you're poking with, as you're just using your pokey thing to pin the card/paper to the table...the lifting of the sheet is where the magic happens (hur hur hur...sorry). Just back from the pub again...can you tell? Anyway, poking an unsupported sheet takes too much time and you leave fingerprints; but if you pin the bit down and lift the sheet as the removal action, you can get a much better and faster rhythm goin......

Oh I give up.

EDIT: Masking tape- good idea. A flathead screwdriver is better than a pointy one.

Steve Clarkson
12-22-2008, 10:57 PM
My poking thing is from a nut cracking set.

john welsh
12-23-2008, 2:49 AM
and for the UK version of a bright idea of which i might add is where most of the bright ideas in this world originate until they are stolen by some forign super power :)

unplug the air assist from the back of your machine or some one elses if you can do it with out them noticing and this is the really simple bit , blow the loose parts out of the card with the air . depending on how loose or how secure the pieces are determines how close you need to place the end of the air supply pipe towards the card .
im off to meet James bond in the morning to try and secure the piece of wisdom before some one trys to steal it so if you can manage to keep it to urselfs till then id appreciate it :)

Darren Null
12-23-2008, 4:12 AM
Air assist. Better than my method.

Rodne Gold
12-23-2008, 7:01 AM
Why do you need to weed? The pieces should just fall out if they cut right thru?
Anyway , we also use he masking tape/low tak sign application tape method to remove large areas of dross. If you dont want to fiddle with air assist , use a dustbuster type vacuum cleaner on the card while its still in the machine by running its smaller higher suction tip over the card (the small carpet brush thingy attachment works well too) the dustbuster is also used to clean the machine afterwards or with any cutting app.
Get the most potent one you can , 12v or so , not 7 volt stuff , test em in the hardware store for suction...you want lots of suction but not as violent as a home vacuum cleaner.

john welsh
12-23-2008, 10:50 AM
the dust buster will also suck the card up if ur not careful and the reason some parts fail to fall out is the some what hit and miss flatness of the card also use to much power to cut through the card and you increase the chances of burn on the card if like me you and your customer requires and rightly wants the cleanest finish possible then a little after work is required .:)

Peter Boyford
12-23-2008, 12:28 PM
I have good experience with the following setup (both on weeding an on lifting up stuff from the laser in general):

* Find a vacuum cleaner... Any vacuum cleaner will do.
* Find a piece of tube the same diameter of the vacuum cleaner tube.
* Wrap the tube with a piece of cloth or a coffee filter.
* Assemble with duct tape.

When you start the vacuum cleaner, it'll suck the pieces up, but collect them where the cloth or coffee filter is.

You are free to use this idea, anyone :)

Marc Myer
12-23-2008, 12:56 PM
...I'm still reworking the idea with young coatamundis disguised as kittens.

I think I see where you're going with this. We don't have them here--could mongoose substitute in a pinch?
So do you keep the kittens and teach them to weed the cards? I'm a little unclear on that.

Rodne Gold
12-23-2008, 3:28 PM
John , thats like saying one shouldnt clean cut thru pex , but rather partially cut it and have to do major amts of work after , cos unless you do that you wont be giving the customer the best product.

I don't agree , the laser is a tool that should have the product ready to go after lasering , at the very least , if the tool is capable of doing the job , it should do so. I cannot understand , that even with a 2" lens , which has a 7mm depth of focus , that a mildly warped card shouldn't cut with minimal heat affected zones. I cant give credence to the idea that a partial cut which requires weeding would have such differing edges to a full cut.
My co does a alot of cardstock for point of sale and for models and we dont seem to have any issues with burnt edges or stuck pieces and we have max 30w lasers. The reason we use dustbuters (whose nozzles are way smaller than the card being cut) is for cleanup so we can cycle the cardstock as quick as possible. We cut thin stuff in multiple layers , up to 3 , and use tissue paper between layers to stop any possible smoke damage. We also use a lowish PPI or frequency and air assist. I made some flat vacuum table inserts for cardstock that was ultra thin , the top surface is a flat surface of black anodised ally with small airholes , the anodised all absorbs the beam , so you dont have to use the notoriously innacurate honeycomb tables (which also do flashbacks) and to stop "fly away"

john welsh
12-24-2008, 8:21 AM
well Rodney thanks for the info and trust me im not one to dismiss things just for the sake of it , i do see your chain of thought and i think perhaps what i was inferring and what actually transpired to the typed word may not be the same ,
but what you have stated does hold water with me also and i will try your ideas hey we all learn new tricks every day that's what makes lasering such a versatile and exciting tool nothing is cast in stone and every one knows omething of use to others so thanks for the tips and please dont think im being argumentative for the sake of it , ive built a sucessful company so far with full order books for the next 3 months on listening and adapting all advice , sothanks again :)