Laser Quest Complete

Laser-Cutter-015This week, a brand new laser cutter has been delivered to the Shiplake College Design & Technology department. This is a major investment for the College which will benefit pupils across all year groups.

The new machine can be used to cut, score and engrave a wide range of materials, including plastic, wood, card and fabrics. This will be especially useful for GCSE & A Level coursework projects, as it facilitates much more imaginative and adventurous designs. The laser cutter will also help to improve the ‘build-quality’ of prototypes and models, as the precision of all measurements and cuts is vastly enhanced compared to free-hand execution. The machine is linked to Computer Aided Design (CAD) software ‘CorelDraw’, an update on 2D design which is currently used in lessons.

DesigLaser-Cutter-027n & Technology teachers Mr Swaenpoel, Mr Rowlinson and Mrs Satch have been eagerly anticipating the machine’s arrival, and enjoyed demonstrating some of its capabilities following their training. Initially, they made acrylic keyrings, with the laser-technology making light work of slicing the plastic. The striking orange colour should ensure the machine keys are never mislaid for long!

A secondary use of the machine is to aid the assembly of card models. The power and speed is automatically adjusted to either cut or score the card. This is particularly useful for making nets, as the score lines allow sticking tabs to be precisely folded to assist 3D assembly of the model. Arguably the most impressive feature of the machine is the ability to engrave photographs onto materials in fine detail. This works best with high contrast images and the College will be racking its collective brains to find the most impressive way of using this feature. To demonstrate its capability, Mrs Satch provided a photo of herself with 3 other pupils showing off the rowing ergometers at September’s open day. The results were very impressive!

The machine will also be available for use by the College’s Art department. Art students may be particularly interested in the capability of engraving fabrics. This can achieve some impressive designs, with denim a particularly suitable material.

Teacher Mr Rowlinson explained the benefits the new arrival will bring to the DT department: “As well as allowing senior pupils to jazz up their projects, the laser cutter will allow us to roll out new schemes of work throughout the school. We are pleased to be able to introduce the best technology in the industry into our lessons. I have no doubts the pupils will come up with endless imaginative ideas of how they can use it.”