Fab Academy: Computer-controlled cutting

A week dedicated to learning laser and vinyl cutting

  • May 21, 2024

Fab Academy is a fast-paced educational program that focuses on personal fabrication. Students master rapid prototyping by learning how to work with a new machine/concept each week, resulting in a personal portfolio of technical accomplishments. In the Fab Academy week devoted to computer-controlled cutting, students learn the ins and outs of laser and vinyl cutting in both theoretical and practical aspects.

Computer-controlled cutting

Laser cutting works by focusing the power of a high-power laser onto the surface of the material to be cut. The energy in the laser beam is absorbed into the surface of material, and the energy of the laser is converted into heat, which melts or vaporizes the material. CO2 laser cutters are essential in digital fabrication, offering precision and versatility. The laser’s ability to vaporize or melt material along the designated path allows for intricate cuts and detailed engravings.

On the other hand, vinyl cutters rely on a different technology. They use a small, precise blade to cut designs from vinyl sheets. Unlike laser cutters that can remove material through vaporization, vinyl cutters perform more like robotic precision knives, following vector paths to create cutouts. They are great for producing stickers and signage with clean edges and are especially useful for projects requiring single or layered color applications.

Both technologies bring unique capabilities and challenges, emphasizing the need for a deep understanding of their respective operational principles. Discover below a few projects done by students of Fab Academy Barcelona 2023 and 2024 during the computer-controlled cutting week.

Laser Cutting

Makers: Manuela Reyes, Carolina Fernandez, Michael Tucci & Riichiro Yamamoto

Vinyl Cutting

Makers: Manuela Reyes, Carolina Fernandez, Riichiro Yamamoto & Mahe Plancke

Explore all projects done in Fab Academy nodes worldwide here.

May 21, 2024