Creationeer Matt was busy with the laser cutter as he worked on a special holiday project. Read on to learn more!

The sound of high-tech machinery and tools is not uncommon to hear along a walk through Inventionland’s build line as skilled Creationeers work on projects and prototypes that involve everything from metalworking to woodworking, 3D printing and more.

Recently, however, Inventionland’s laser cutting machine was used by one Creationeer who was not only thinking ahead to the holidays and the New Year, but thinking strategically ahead much further.

Senior Designer and Engineer Matt was tasked with creating a festive holiday ornament that could be sent to schools involved in Inventionland’s Innovation Course. Matt designed the ornament just as he does all of Inventionland’s unique cardboard MakerKits™ used at schools participating in our course, creating the individual pieces of the ornament so it could be put together, offering an interactive and engaging experience.

Ornament Design

As with any project at Inventionland, Matt followed the nine-step inventing method used by Creationeers daily.

“Following the nine-step inventing method, I started out by creating an input model, which acted as a prototype,” said Matt. “The purpose of the input model is to make sure all the parts fit together before I invest many hours and days into cutting a lot of those; before going into mass production.”

Input Model

Upon completing a successful input model he was happy with, Matt began setting up the laser cutter. “Once that’s done, we’re ready to start laser cutting!” said Matt.

While the input model was an initial success, Matt ran into some struggles when it came to mass production of the ornaments, including having the laser cutter crash on his first attempt.

A forward thinker, Matt worked ahead to troubleshoot and make sure all was in order.

Matt at Laser Cutter

“The most important part was the pre-cuts. All of my files now have them. There’s a line between too many pre-cuts and what is now enough. It’s been a whole science to figure out,” said Matt. “I needed the scrap material to fall away in small enough pieces to where it wouldn’t clog up the actual laser head. If they don’t fall through perfectly, they can get caught in the machinery. It would move the whole pace of material in the laser cutter and throw everything out of alignment and that could be two hours of laser cutting lost,” said Matt.

From the looks of things, Matt’s proactive pre-cuts did the trick, as you see here with each piece of scrap material falling away cleanly.

After laser cutting, the project moved to painting to give each ornament kit a glittery, festive feel. “Painting was a huge part of it. I spent two days with a mask on, using the stencil to paint the kits,” Matt said.

Painted Ornament Kit

“What I’ve been doing lately isn’t just ‘Hey, let’s make a neat kit!’ It’s ‘Make a neat kit and figure out how to make 1,000 of them,” said Matt. “I have to figure out how to make these in the future. I have to think five years down the road today. That’s what I’m doing… How do I design all these in a way that five years from now, when we need to make thousands at a time, that we can do that easily? If I don’t think about these things now, I’m shooting myself in the foot for later. It’s all about observing and learning; seeing what can be improved,” said Matt.

Copyright Inventionland, 2016