ITP Blog

Fabrication - Week 3: Laser Cutter

TITLE: Acrylic Caliper 

DATE: September 2016





I hate to admit that the price of materials makes me somehow a pragmatist, who is chasing the usability of every assignment from a tripod to a caliper. I feel sorry for the pool artistic content of my works but also feel proud of being a maker on the way.

The idea of my caliper came from the last class and I also found some examples on thingiverse, like Vernier Caliper with Metric and US Scales and Laser Cut Calipers, from which I got inspired how to fix the vernier scale to the main scare. Based on the shape of digital calipers, I redesign the parts to save cutting edges, which means only 3 pieces can assemble a good caliper!



I felt much better when dealing with a drawing software, after all, I could draw a straight line here.



  • Acrylic: 7.8$ for 1 piece, 12″ x 12″, 1/8″, Green, bought from T & T plasticland
  • Machine Screws: 1.18$ for 4, #10-32, 3/4 in, round head, bought from Home Depot
  • Wing nuts, 1.18$ for 4, #10-32, bought from Home Depot(WING NUT is a genius invention!)
  • Laser cut: 50W, Mon 5:30-6:00 PM. Testing with a piece of wood board.
  • Thanks for Cris, he shared some setting experience with me.



Actually, my step one for etching failed that the etching of my work was not well. I wish I had more time to try settings and the perfect etching setting for acrylic was still a mystery to me.

Cleaned acrylic board and slightly took each piece out of the acrylic board, then started to put them together.

These materials make a good caliper! Though it doesn’t have a perfect precision, my caliper does a good job when I need to compare a screw with a drill bit or compare two things when I don’t need a precise number.

Here is the video of laser cutting my caliper, hope you like it.



Some takeaways:

  • Make two session reservations, especially you are going to test some new materials!
  • Use layers in illustrator to control the outline cutting and content etching, it’s easy to change in one file.
  • When laser cutting acrylic, if there are white smoke raised from the salver, it was cut deep enough.