Monday, August 8, 2011

Laser Burn Removal

A laser cutting service, like our friends at Ponoko, is a great way to get parts manufactured for your robot. However the parts may need a little cleanup before your robot is ready to star in a video.

The biggest cosmetic problem is cleaning up the scorch marks where the laser burned through the material. Since the material being cut is MDF, which is mostly wood and glue, it would make sense that the brown gunk would be rosin.

If it is rosin, that means we can clean it up the same way we remove rosin based flux from our circuit boards. Testing shows that a paper towel dampened with 91% isopropyl alcohol works great at cleaning things up without damaging the melamine coating. If you have streaks after wiping it with alcohol, a glass cleaner like Windex can help remove the streaks. Update: If it is not clear this does not work on every material, and it definitely does not work on acrylic, partly because burnt acrylic isn't rosin and partly because alcohol will fog acrylic. Thanks William! Post your tips in the comments.

After you get the parts cleaned up you may want to add some logos and graphics to make your robot stand out in a crowd.

The TurtleBot is open source hardware so all the files needed to laser cut your own are available. You can also buy parts or a complete robot at the I Heart Engineering store, or if you want to save money building a TurtleBot you can always do it the hard way.


I Heart Robotics said...

Does this count as an advertorial or an advertutorial?

William Cox said...

FYI, don't use the isopropyl alcohol to clean laser cut acrylic - it'll lead to some nasty ghosting that can't be removed :(