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New laser cutter encourages utility and creativity

You may have seen lightsabers in “Star Wars” or remember someone cutting a hole using a laser in a futuristic movie, but have you ever seen a laser cutter? Marlborough has its very own, located near to the office of Head of Upper School Laura Hotchkiss ‘86, near the back entrance of the CEI. Arabella ‘19, the president of the Collaboration In Computer-Aided Design with Arts and Sciences (CICADAS) Club, created a heart-shaped sign for Honors Science Research Program Head Allison Ponzio’s wedding with engraved calligraphy by Anna ’19 [pictured].

Photograph by Ararbella ’19

Sidney ’21 built a paper tray consisting of 10 interlocking panels with an engraved top panel. 

She designed her project on a website called OnShape and then used the laser printer to realize her idea. 

OnShape enables students to create designs of specific words or images and cut exact pieces for their projects. 

Although it may seem intimidating at first, Arabella said the laser cutting process is relatively simple after learning the software.

 “If you know how to use OnShape and understand the laser cutter settings, the creation process is relatively painless,” Arabella said. 

Not only has the laser cutter been able to aid in smaller projects like paper holders and signs, it is also essential to the robotics team. 

“The laser cutter has been invaluable to the four robotics teams for fabrication of custom parts. Having the freedom to design whatever we need and create it quickly gives the Marlborough teams a serious advantage over others in the competition,” Arabella said.

Although this high-tech and advanced technology is amazing to most students, some students said the smell of the laser cutter can be a little overbearing at times.

“I like [the laser cutter]…it smells really bad though. It smells like you’re burning wood, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. It also smells sort of toxic. That’s why they have to vent it out to the air,” Sidney said. 

For the most part, the laser-cutting experience at Marlborough has been a new and enjoyable one that will continue to facilitate new innovations and explorations in the future. 

“The laser cutter will certainly be used in robotics for years to come. Hopefully, my club will help integrate this tool into the greater Marlborough community, especially with the arts. I think it’d be awesome if art students learned computer-aided design in order to create 3D pieces with the help of tools such as the laser cutter and 3D printer!” Arabella said. 

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