The Reactive Light Laser Party

This week we're taking delivery of a wonderful new toy, a humongous laser cutter/engraver which we'll be using to make parts & packaging for our projects, useful & fun stuff for our home, and for just plain fun.

The problem is that in its shipping crate the thing weighs about 900 pounds. It will be on casters (wheels), but the delivery company will only drop the crate curbside, and it needs to get from there into our garage across 27 feet of loose gravel driveway (up a not-too-bad slope).

I'll have a plywood ramp over the gravel, and I've rigged a pulley system which may or may not work, but it will still take some effort to push it into the garage. If my system works perfectly I might be able to do it alone, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable having two or three helpers.

Perhaps I could just hire some people to help, but given that laser cutters are really, really fun to use I thought it would be good to offer some friends/acquaintances help with a project on the machine ("door prizes") in exchange for their assistance in moving it.

Now, you may not know what a laser cutter/engraver can be used for, and may not think it's something that would interest you, but please check out these samples links before you write off the idea of joining this project, er, party: artistic projects, nerdy projects A Google search for "laser cutter" will give you a zillion more examples.

This will all be happening at: 4015 20th Road North, Arlington, VA 22207-3011

Date & time of the event (this is the problematic part. Please read this last after the rest of this writeup has already convinced you that you really want to participate :-)

The Door Prizes

What I'm offering in exchange for help in moving the machine is to assist you with doing a cutting or engraving project on our machine. You provide the idea (see the samples linked to above for inspiration) and the raw materials, and I'll provide the laser time and technical assistance. Don't be intimidated if you think you're not a "techie"--the laser cutter operates very much like a computer printer, so if you can draw it (or find a pre-made project that you like) then you can make it.

It is going to take a week or two for me to get the machine assembled & tested after it arrives (it's simple to use, but very complicated to put together!), so projects can happen any time after that (a day, a month, a year... Your choice).

If you don't see how this might be useful to you, then you're welcome to gift your "prize" to someone else. However, please do some research on the capabilities of laser cutters/engravers before deciding that you're not interested.

The Machine

When I say this machine is "humongous", I really mean it (the dimensions are 69" wide x 56" deep x 43" tall). If you've seen a laser cutter before (at, say, a TechShop or a makerspace) it was probably pretty small. For example, the ones at the Arlington TechShop (where I'm currently a member) have a cutting area of 18"x24" and a relatively-puny 40-watt laser. The machine we're getting, though, has a 100-watt CO2 laser (expandable up to 150 watts) and a 36"x48" work bed. It has a "passthrough" in the short direction, so it can actually handle material that's 48 inches wide and any length (that will fit in my garage, anyway). So, it will work just fine with standard 4'x8' sheet materials like plywood. It can cut/engrave materials ranging from tissue paper to 1"-thick plywood.

Here is the materials list for a commercial laser-cutting service. Our machine can handle the same stuff.

The Event

Okay, so here is the problem: the trucking company only delivers on weekdays, and they can't give a very narrow window for delivery. The date/time they've assigned is Thursday, March 24 (this week!) between 11am and 4pm. So, this event will only work for folks who are either retired or can otherwise get that day free.

I'll be providing lunch and beer, and in addition to the committed helpers kibitzers (who don't have the physical ability to help with the move) will be welcome. The weather is supposed to be very nice that day, so it really can be a party of sorts.

But, I really do need a firm committment to show up, because I'm going to be screwed if I end up with the crate on the sidewalk and no way to move it. So, please don't agree to this if you're not sure.

For more info or to RSVP:
My phone number is 571-4TBURKE

Thanks for reading!