Tag Archives: art

What is STEAM?

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Amongst parents’ Common Core Facebook rants are ever-climbing college tuition rates and presidential candidate platforms on student loan reform. When it comes to education today, there’s only one topic that makes educators, students, and administrators light up: STEAM.

What is STEAM?

Not to be confused with the water vapor variety, STEAM is a newly defined approach to teaching and the learning process. In making connections across Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, the STEAM model presents a hands-on approach to problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and experimentation.

Although the definition is new, the approach is not. Take this example from STEAM advocate Meghan Reilly Michaud in her 2014 article, “STEAM: Adding art to STEM education”, for District Administration.

“In mathematics, for example, students learn the geometric transformation of dilation. In an introductory visual arts course, students learn perspective. In science, students study the effect of light on pupil response in the eye. And in a history class, the way Renaissance artists viewed the world is examined.

It may not be obvious, but all these topics relate to a main idea of an item changing scale with proportion to the original dimensions, and the effect this idea has on different facets of our world. In establishing a connection between these ideas, the arts not only educate, but also engage students in their learning. Even without explicitly designing new curriculum, many teachers already use STEAM principles in their teaching.

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Why does STEAM matter?

While Common Core continues to be highly debated among parents, teachers, and politicians alike, messages from the White House to Sesame Street indicate that STEAM is here to stick around for the future of American education. And everyone seems to be on board.

The National Science Foundation is funding STEAM programs and workshops, the National Endowment for the Arts is “pushing for Artscience initiatives — intersecting art, science and technology”, and the benefits are already documented within K-12 education, amongst students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and at the college level.

In an article for Edutopia, John Maeda, the President of the Rhode Island School of Design – the school at the front of the fight to keep the A in STEAM – had this to say about STEAM’s future on a global scale.

With global competition rising, America is at a critical juncture in defining its economic future. I believe that art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century in the same way that science and technology did in the last century, and the STEAM movement is an opportunity for America to sustain its role as innovator of the world.

What do laser machines have to do with STEAM?

An essential part of how innovation arises from STEAM-based projects is the process of “making”. Making is simply hands-on creation – building a scale model or prototype, for instance – and much of it happens in “makerspaces” or “Fab Labs” (short for fabrication). Makerspaces are today’s new technology workshops guided by STEAM principles. In nearly every makerspace, you’re bound to find at least a 3D printer and vinyl cutter, maybe some Arduino or Little Bits kits, and – if you’re lucky – the ultimate STEAM tool: a laser machine.

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With the ability to cut or engrave nearly any material, laser machines are truly the greatest STEAM tool on the market. But don’t take just our word for it. In an article for MakeZine.com, California high school math teacher and “Maker Educator” Casey Shea wrote, “If money were no object, the laser cutter would be my No. 1 tool, as it is perhaps the most versatile tool that I have ever used.”

In an article from 2009, by Mike Dean for SouthEast Education Network, laser machines got rave reviews from both administrators and students. Now you know it has to be good if both teenagers and their authority figures can agree on it.

Dark Steel Robotics, a student robotics team at the Academy of Engineering and Design Technology, found their laser machine to be crucial for their work – using it to create prototypes, cut out “numerous complex components”, and add logos to their robots.

Club president Bryan Uber told Dean, “We use the system for a variety of applications — the machine is necessary for so many of the projects we do.” Regarding placing first in the Boston University Design Challenge, Uber said, “The laser engraver was an invaluable tool during this project.”

students with laser machine

Administrators from the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in Hancock County, West Virginia also had glowing remarks about their laser machine. Instructor of building construction Steve Shannon told Dean the following.

The students are all very eager to learn to use the laser. Not only are they intrigued by how it works, but they also realize the many opportunities that a laser machine opens for them out in the world. Some of them see it and immediately think of how to start a small business using it, while some see it as a useful tool for existing enterprises.”

George Danford, director of the Career Center, told Dean:

“The number of things we could find to use this machine for are countless!

There isn’t a program offered today which hasn’t been changed with the incorporation of technology. This is why we selected a laser engraving system, and it has definitely improved our curriculum.”

Alright, I’m convinced. How can I get a laser machine?

Whether you’re looking to add a laser machine to your school or want to start a community makerspace, the first step of purchasing a laser machine is choosing the right one. We offer five models at AP Lazer, which you can easily compare using this handy matrix.

While the upfront costs of purchasing a laser machine can be difficult to navigate on a school budget, know that with this technology, you get what you pay for, and AP Lazer offers the best technology on the market.

Take for instance young entrepreneur Nurul Syazninabila Mohd Ghazali (aka Nabila). According to Cuts Studio: Laser cutting made cool by Lydia Koh, when Nabila first started her laser cutting and woodworking business, she went with a cheaper machine. It ended up breaking. In six months. Don’t make the same mistake as Nabila and invest in an AP Lazer machine from the start.

With STEAM momentum only continuing to build, some teachers are finding success in grant writing to fund their Fab Labs. And if that doesn’t work, take a page from Shea’s book and show your school how much money they could save by having a laser machine. From no longer needing to outsource campus signage, to easily customizing whiteboards for specific lessons, your school will only find more and more ways for your AP Lazer machine to save money.

Why choose an AP Lazer machine?

As a result of revolutionary engineering by founder Tong Li, AP Lazer machines offer exceptional performance, stability, and efficiency that you won’t find elsewhere. Our technology lasts longer and cuts two times faster than competitors. Our unprecedented open architecture design allows you to engrave items of any size. Look here to see what other features make the AP Lazer difference.

Not only are our machines outstanding, but we also offer the best in customer service. Between on-site training, video tutorials, AP Lazer University, and 24/7 phone tech support, we’ll answer all questions and solve any problems.


education discount for laser machineLaser engraving business starter package

Oh, and did we mention, educators get a 10% discount with AP Lazer?

So what are you waiting for?! Contact us today to find out how you can get your hands on an AP Lazer machine.

Additional Links and Resources:
STEM to STEAM
STEAM Education
Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”
Pivot Point: At the Crossroads of STEM, STEAM and Arts Integration
STEAM Funding Endorsed BY NEA
STEAM Ahead: Merging Arts and Science Education
Gaining STEAM: Teaching Science Through Art

laser engraving websites to check out

6 Laser Engraving Websites to Check Out

laser engraving websites to check out
When you’re as into laser engraving and cutting as we are, you’re always looking for incredibly unique items that can be laser engraved/cut. Because a laser engraving machine can alter just about any material, there are hundreds upon hundreds of things you can create. A couple of Google searches resulted in quite a few makers using lasers to create some very interesting pieces.

1. Jumbie Industries

Jumbie Industries hits the nail on the head for producing incredibly awesome custom laser engraved stuff. They specialize in sign making (and have a gallery to prove it) and hand-crafted manufactured pieces.  aser engraved signageThe best part? They are helping families along the way. After the son of their family friend had been diagnosed with brain cancer, they made the decision to put their professional talents to use and make a difference by donating a portion of each sale to local families that are battling cancer. The world needs more people like them.

2. 52 Lasers

52 Lasers is a perfect website to visit if you have a few minutes hours to spare. Each week, the husband and wife team selects one thing from their long list of ideas to laser engrave/cut and turns it into a finished product. laser cut Kumihimo From wood to acrylic and everything in between, this duo creates things we’ve never even thought of with their laser engraving machine. What is a Kumihimo disk, anyways? What about a living hinge? See all of this and more at their website.

3. Obrary

We can’t get enough Obrary! Short for “Open Library”, this site has over 100 free design templates and video tutorials for laser engraving some pretty cool projects like this laser cut skateboard rack.laser cut skateboard rackNot only do they provide free project templates, but they also have a few eBooks that could be helpful for the beginner laser engraver, including “Laser Cutter 101”, “Laser Cutter Advanced Techniques” and “Starting a Business with a Laser Cutter”.

Interested in Learning More?

Call Today: 800-585-8617

4. Cut Laser Cut

These guys are specialists when it comes to laser cutting and engraving! Located in London, this award-winning shop does it all. laser cut marque signageWe spent quite a bit of time admiring their Showcase, which includes everything from laser cut acrylic shoes, intricate laser cut paper designs, and even laser cut food. (Yummy!) Check out their blog too, where they’ve got tons more inspiration for your laser engraving dreams, such as this laser cut marquee signage.

5. Cartonus

Focused primarily on packaging, Cartonus offers a variety of free templates as well as templates you can purchase. For around $15, you can get 150 designs to laser cut your own unique packages. laser cut wine butler

Who wouldn’t want a laser cut tea bag dispenser? Or a laser cut wine butler? The best thing about templates is that you can use them over and over. And over again!

6. Instructables

Instructables is another website you could spend the better part of your afternoon exploring. A simple search for “laser engraving” results in user submitted projects ranging from laser engraved rolling pins to …a laser engraved egg? laser cut vinyl

Projects feature photos with detailed instructions you can follow along to create both useful and fun things you can create with your laser engraving machine.

This collection of laser cut item goes to show you that your imagination is the only limit with a laser engraving machine. Engrave every dream, every inspiration onto nearly any surface.

Interested in learning what you can do with an AP Lazer? Contact a sales representative or fill out the form on our website.

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10 Mind-blowing Artists and Makers Using Lasers On Wood

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From paper and textiles, to stone and metal, AP Lazer machines can be used on nearly any material, but one of our favorites to work with is wood. It’s a renewable, biodegradable, timeless, and universal material that’s downright gorgeous in its own right. When spruced up with etched illustrations or custom cut into a unique pattern, wood becomes even more instinctively beautiful and endlessly versatile. Searching for inspiration, we found the following artists and makers who are doing some pretty incredible things with their laser machines and our favorite material.

1. Gabriel Schama

Cutting and gluing layer upon layer upon layer of designs from wood, Gabriel Schama (with the help of his laser cutter, Elsie) creates mesmerizing three-dimensional artworks. Ranging from entirely abstract, organic shapes to his more recent portraiture work, Schama utilizes the laser cutter not just to make his process faster or easier, but to open up his full range of ability. Although he creates his art with the help of a machine, Schama’s technique is inherently handcrafted.

2. Lightwave Laser

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Utilizing laser precision, Ron Macken of Lightwave Laser is able to create custom designs and exclusive company patterns from wood that an ordinary contractor simply couldn’t execute. Coming from a background on the engineering side of laser technology, Macken’s artistic pursuits have seen various applications in commercial businesses, as well as private homes. Hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores, and even a mosque, sport Lightwave Laser panels as wall dividers, external and internal wall decorations, doors, and lighting fixtures.

3. Rogue Journals

On a significantly smaller scale, Rogue Journals creates laser cut wooden bookmarks that are just as detailed as Schama’s and Lightwave’s large-scale pieces. These delicate creations use wood’s ability to be both smoothly cut and engraved to portray full scenes within a mere 5″ x 1.25″ area. Again, these complex works simply could not exist without the innovation of laser technology.

4. Big Secret

Big Secret is one secret that every laser fan should know. The laser and design company provides assistance at any stage of the making process – in their own words – “from design and development to fabrication and finishing.” Their website and Instagram are full of mind-blowing, award-winning collaborations, as well as some of their own in-house creations. The above baseball bat, designed by Kevin Cantrell and Juan Carlos Pagan, is just one of their beautiful collaborative works.

Interested in Learning More?

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5. Stay Gold Co

Organic Super Flower Plugs

Stay Gold Co makes tattoo art inspired t-shirts, stickers, phone cases, and plug style earrings. Their products are only available for limited time periods, but they currently have 13 beautiful, laser-etched, wooden earring designs for sale. These Super Flower Plugs are by far the most intricate. This pair of earrings – available as small as 12 mm in diameter – highlights a laser machine’s ability to create incredibly detailed texture, with some seriously impressive, minuscule carved portions.

6. Anila Quayyum Agha

This one might look familiar to our fellow Michiganders. Mixed media artist Anila Quayyum Agha swept away the competition with this 2014 Art Prize winner, Intersections. If you experienced this work in person, then you know the feeling of amazement over how such a simple construction, perfectly executed, entirely transformed the space. In fact, the work was so stunning, it inspired a somewhat impromptu marriage proposal. Agha’s still creating sophisticated patterns with laser machines, now opting for steel or paper, but this original piece was made from wood.

7. Carved Lake Art

With another series that’s probably familiar if you’re from Michigan, Carved Lake Art creates striking 3D nautical maps. Their collections span the Great Lakes, a variety of states’ inland lakes, Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and some international waters. The works are made by stacking up to 8 layers of laser cut Baltic Birch – which seems to be the ideal choice of plywood for laser machines. The layers are also engraved with topographical details, again demonstrating wood’s particular ability to be both cut and engraved in beautiful detail.

8. SpaceWolf Limited

Illustrating his love for sci-fi and pop culture, and known only by the mysterious moniker, SpaceWolf is an illustrator, printmaker, and woodworker who creates extremely limited edition wooden posters. With his absolute mastery of the laser machine, he pulls off the most impeccably smooth shading we’ve ever seen. Often based off movies, TV shows, or books, by using cherry wood as his material of choice, SpaceWolf’s work redefines the idea of what a poster is. If you’re concerned about whether or not these posters are actually more or less environmentally conscious than paper, rest assured in knowing that SpaceWolf personally plants a tree for every single poster sold.

9. Dragon Powered

Hinge laser cut from 5mm birch ply

Mike Wilson of Dragon Powered is another engineer-turned-laser-artist. He has a small selection of jewelry boxes, lamps, and keychains – all made of birch – that are available for direct purchase through his site. But the really exciting stuff is in the blog section. That’s where we found posts like how to make the wooden hinges pictured above and using a custom jig to cut at an angle other than 90 degrees. His video tutorials aren’t particularly detailed and he doesn’t provide any templates, but there’s enough guidance to get a resourceful woodworker started.

10. Beam Designs

Planetary Gears Clock 1

Husband and wife duo Nathan and Sarah Jones combined their respective aerospace engineering and textile art and design backgrounds to create Beam Designs. Their website and Etsy shop offer a variety of laser cut bamboo goods, such as earrings, key chains, and wall clocks, like this wooden gear design. They intentionally chose Moso Bamboo, which is native to Britain and sourced from their local sawmill, for all of their products because of how well it compliments their environmentally conscious ethics.

 

 

Bonus: Obrary

Alex Chair - the living hinge chair

Obrary (short for open library) is a maker’s new best friend. If you operate a commercial laser service, you might like their Shopping Configurator software, which helps customers see dynamic mock ups of their personalized product so they can be assured their order will be accurate. If you just like to make things, you’ll enjoy their selection of 100+ free design templates and video tutorials gathered from across the Internet. These tutorials focus on laser cutting wood to make items like a working microscope, lamp, or padlock, to name a few. Our favorites of the designs they’ve collected utilize living hinges – laser cut Baltic Birch (yes, it has to be Baltic Birch) that allows the wood to become extremely flexible. The Alex chair above, designed by Alex Zhang, uses a living hinge to create a seat and back from a single piece of wood.