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Subject: Paint filled dice with $100 laser engraver rss

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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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In another thread I was asking about these 1000mw (1 watt) USB laser engravers (made from the internals of two DVD drives:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1667344/120-laser-engraver-...

I like what I read and so I purchased one -- thanks Jake Staines for your help.

But after using it, I was surprised to find it has exceeded my expectations.

It actually engraved deep enough to take on thinned down $1 craft store acrylic paint.

Well I started by making a jig in OpenSCAD (CAD software), to hold four 16mm dice in place while it prints:



I made this jig available for free on Thingiverse.com for printing on your 3D printer (don't have one? they are only $329 these days -- I recommend the Monoprice Maker Select V2 from Monoprice.com and follow the support & mod groups on Thingiverse.com for this printer). Here is the URL to the free jig on Thingiverse.com:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1887756

Here is a photo of it holding four blank 16mm white dice (which I bought in bulk from Amazon.com) :



Here is how the dice turned out after engraving and wiping the black powder off with a wet rag:





See the nice checkered texture? Provides a lot of surface area for the acrylic paint to grab onto and stay adhered.

I only did two coats of the thinned down acrylic paint, let dry and rubbed it on a thin flat cotton dish cloth.

Here they are painted:



And then rubbed down:





Paint seems well adhered, and with only two coats, I tried scratching it with fingernail pretty hard and couldn't get to the white underneath the red paint.

(These are all close ups of the dice.. they look razor sharp at normal viewing distance, and solid in color -- plus I could probably do another coat or two if I wanted.)

I'll keep you guys posted. Just thought I'd share. Pretty excited about this.

Looking forward to trying a set of 10 Star Trek dice -- filled with paint. I got black dice but don't know well it can engrave black.

By the way I had the burn time set only to 60, and you can bump it all the way up to 240.. haven't done this yet, but I imagine one can get an even deeper cut?

Jennifer
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Jake Staines
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Nice gang-up jig - mine are all made from bits of stripwood and superglue!

boardgamegeekess wrote:

By the way I had the burn time set only to 60, and you can bump it all the way up to 240.. haven't done this yet, but I imagine one can get an even deeper cut?


You can, but the trade-off is that the longer the burn in one spot, the hotter the surrounding plastic gets and the more likely it is to start to melt. I found that the more I turned the burn time up, the less fine detail I was able to get.

I was doing the icons from Heiko Gunther's Dune dice game, though, which are pretty detailed - I imagine that for less-detailed icons (like the average dice game has) it'd be perfectly fine. Alternatively, take a second cut over the top of the first.

Particularly, any fine lines which remain uncut - like the gaps between the feathers of the griffon I was cutting, or the small eye on your dragon head - got slightly smaller the longer the cut time. I didn't turn it right the way up, so I don't know how deep it goes on plastic, but on a beech wood block a single (IIRC) 180ms cut goes down about 0.5-0.75mm.
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Keith "Boaty McBoatface" C
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Nice, about how long do you think the etching takes per die? Wondering if i should pick one of these up for myself.
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James Arias
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That is sweet. Wonder if you could also figure out for polyhedral dice? Custom d8/d10/d12?
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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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Having problems with the image not being fully printed on one of the dice -- the top left corner die. For some reason getting random areas of the image cut out on that die. I have to look into this. Maybe I need a better laser engraver? Or better software?
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Jennifer

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crazybyzantine wrote:
That is sweet. Wonder if you could also figure out for polyhedral dice? Custom d8/d10/d12?


Yeah you could do those dice as well. Just make a jig to hold the same location every time. Then figure out where on the 512 by 512 bitmap those dice faces are.
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Jennifer

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Orph wrote:
Nice, about how long do you think the etching takes per die? Wondering if i should pick one of these up for myself.


I didn't time it but it is pretty slow. If I'd say, off the top of my head, about 20 minutes per side, for set of four dice. So about two hours total for 4 dice.
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Jake Staines
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boardgamegeekess wrote:
Having problems with the image not being fully printed on one of the dice -- the top left corner die. For some reason getting random areas of the image cut out on that die.


Is it the entire image cut off at a certain point on one side? I found that if you move the cut centre (using the arrows in the software or checking the "use keyboard" checkbox and using the arrow keys) then it's possible to position the laser such that some of the cut would go outside of the laser's normal cut area. If you tell it to cut an image like that, it will try, but because the laser won't move outside of the 38x38mm cut area it just gets to the edge of the area and stops. All the pixels that should be cut outside of the area get cut along the border of it instead, meaning that the image gets truncated with a straight line right the way down the side of the available cut area.

If that's what you're seeing, then the solution is probably to just re-position your jig so that the point the four dice meet in the middle is also the point that the laser returns to when you tell it to return to the centre.
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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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Bichatse wrote:
boardgamegeekess wrote:
Having problems with the image not being fully printed on one of the dice -- the top left corner die. For some reason getting random areas of the image cut out on that die.


Is it the entire image cut off at a certain point on one side? I found that if you move the cut centre (using the arrows in the software or checking the "use keyboard" checkbox and using the arrow keys) then it's possible to position the laser such that some of the cut would go outside of the laser's normal cut area. If you tell it to cut an image like that, it will try, but because the laser won't move outside of the 38x38mm cut area it just gets to the edge of the area and stops. All the pixels that should be cut outside of the area get cut along the border of it instead, meaning that the image gets truncated with a straight line right the way down the side of the available cut area.

If that's what you're seeing, then the solution is probably to just re-position your jig so that the point the four dice meet in the middle is also the point that the laser returns to when you tell it to return to the centre.


Yeah I know what you mean but that's not the problem I am having. I'll take a photo soon to show you.
 
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Woody Taylor
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I love the idea of using one tool (3D printer) to make a jig which allows you to use another tool (laser engraver) to engrave dice... so you can play a game! Awesome!
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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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woodshow wrote:
I love the idea of using one tool (3D printer) to make a jig which allows you to use another tool (laser engraver) to engrave dice... so you can play a game! Awesome!


Giggle.

Well like Jake Staines said, you could simply use some strip wood for the gang jig I just have this 3D printer handy and know how to use OpenSCAD (recently learned it). So it was a breeze to quickly design and print. Took a couple hours to print the jig but only about 5 minutes to design it.

I don't even have strip wood here Not much of a wood worker really.

It only cost me about 30 cents in plastic for the jig if I recall.

What I like about the 3D printer is everything prints very flat, no warpage, and within a hundredth of a mm of accuracy.
 
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boardgamegeekess wrote:
I didn't time it but it is pretty slow. If I'd say, off the top of my head, about 20 minutes per side, for set of four dice. So about two hours total for 4 dice.


So... no dice KS? laugh

Thanks for the post!
 
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James Arias
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Sam and Max wrote:
boardgamegeekess wrote:
I didn't time it but it is pretty slow. If I'd say, off the top of my head, about 20 minutes per side, for set of four dice. So about two hours total for 4 dice.


So... no dice KS? laugh

Thanks for the post!


Or commissioned work!
 
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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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It's great for personal use. I mean you can be doing other things while it does its slow work. How many dice are you going to create anyways Definitely not that great for making money with.

I see more and more people getting laser engravers & cutters down the road for cheap that do a great job for their needs, and saving money
 
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Jennifer

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Well I just engraved black dice with the same burn settings (@60). And I was surprised again -- very pleased with results.

And well it cuts even deeper.. lots deeper really. Maybe this has somethign to do with black absorbing more light/heat than white?

Anyways here are the sides of three dice I engraved and painted with cheap yellow acrylic paint (Americana Primary Yellow $1.49 at craft stores). [There are only three dice because the image in the top left die keeps getting random portions of it cut out.. so I stick a sacrificial die there. Actually, I'll just keeping putting the same junk die in there, so no new dice are ruined.].


Makign dice for Star Trek the Dice Game. It's a PnP and needs 10 dice if I recall.


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Jennifer

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Definitely need to engrave outside or in the garage with door open. Nasty fumes aren't good for the lungs.
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Jennifer

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Heads or Tails?

For Pocket Adventure Card System (PACS). Set of three dice to use instead of flipping coins.



EDIT: oops, looks like I need to rub off a little excess Gold paint yet.. front left one top edge.
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Daniel Rodriguez
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boardgamegeekess wrote:
Heads or Tails?

For Pocket Adventure Card System (PACS). Set of three dice to use instead of flipping coins.



EDIT: oops, looks like I need to rub off a little excess Gold paint yet.. front left one top edge.


Wow those look great!
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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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Thanks, we'll see how they hold up. They are only the cheap $1 craft store acrylic paints, with currently no clear / sealer coat of paint. They can always be touched up with another coat of acrylic if they chip at all. Or if they get to greasy probably can clean with alcohol or something and redo a coat? Worst case they can be plopped in some simple green for a day or two, scrubbed with toothbrush and repainted.

Or I could look into some more durable paitns.. or try the clear coat of minmax polycrylic or something.
 
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Jennifer

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Interesting, I hooked up this laser engraver to a notebook computer for engraving outside in the garage. The laser isn't putting out enough power to engrave the dice. Going to try it again indoors on my main computer to see if it functions normally again. Maybe USB power requirement is high and varies from computer to computer? Looks like this laser engraver is probably going to be returned. Wish I could actuall find a standalone one with SD card and LCD menu like my 3D printer has. That has its own appropriate power supply as well. That'd be wonderful.
 
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Jeff Chunko
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You can try hooking it to a powered USB hub instead of directly to the laptop. I haven't looked at them in ages, but I can't think they're very expensive now.
 
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Jake Staines
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boardgamegeekess wrote:

Maybe USB power requirement is high and varies from computer to computer?


The problem there is twofold. USB has four pins - two are used for data, and two are used for power. But some USB sockets aren't powered at all, and basically only use the data pins - often this is the case on mobile devices like tablets or smaller notebooks, because they don't want USB devices draining the battery. They'll still work fine for flash drives and other devices that can run just off the data pins, and they'll still work fine for things like printers which have their own power.

Even if your USB socket is powered, then there's multiple versions of USB with different power-supply ratings. IIRC USB1 and USB2 only provide half a Watt per socket (which is presumably why these lasers have two cables!), of which each device is normally expected to only consume 0.1W, while USB3 provides more (maybe 1W total?). If you have any USB3 sockets on your notebook (usually in blue for some reason) it might be worth trying those.

EDIT: I forgot, power-requirements aside, it does appear that the laser unit keeps the last image you loaded onto it in memory - and you can print from the button on the unit itself. So I would presume it should be possible to load the image onto your unit from your desktop PC, carry it somewhere else, provide it with power somehow (e.g. from a powered USB hub) and then cut just using the button on the unit itself.
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Jake Staines
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In related news, today I learned that so-called "fluorescent" acrylic etches really well, and is also practically impossible to photograph with a mobile phone camera.



(Half the reason I bought this thing in the first place was to finally finish the build of MAJESTY I started a year and a half ago.)
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Jennifer

Oklahoma
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This laser engraver quit working correctly. Doesn't even engrave dice right on my computer inside anymore. Laser strength cuts in and out.

So this one is going back and it might put my idea of engraving on hold for a while.

I really would like one of those cheap $400 40 watt co2 enclosed laser engravers/cutters with exhaust duct and fan. Just hate to get something and have it not work right or fail in short order.
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Conrad Hillmer
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Love the detail here in the thread!!!!! Please keep up the details.

I'm very interested in engraving 6 sided dice as well. It appears that a step up to a 40 W laser is the minimum. (Did I see for a CO2 laser, you need to provide CO2? Not impossible but definitely a factor.)

It seems putting the dice into a template that holds them is a good option and do the dice in sets. (6 per run or whatever you can fit.)

The going price looks around #2 per die for custom work. With all the issues with getting the templates right and, the maintenance on the equipment, I can't see doing this for pay. (Even if you don't provide the painting.) Bless anyone who takes this one on.

Again, thanks for sharing your journey!
 
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