Laser It Challenge #4: IRIS Camera - Bike Gear Jig Template

Welcome to this episode of the Epilog Laser It Challenge. Is it possible to create a jig and template using the IRIS Camera system?

  1. We’ll begin by placing a black matboard scrap and the chainring gear on the work surface under the Fusion Edge camera. Using a section of black matte board will provide high contrast between the metal chainring and the background, which is important for a good auto trace in a later step.

    black matboard for chainring gear

  2. Next, we’ll use the Auto Focus feature to focus the IRIS camera to the chainring for a life-sized image capture.

    close the  lid and focus the chainring

  3. To collect an image capture with the IRIS Camera, open the Job Manager and click the Camera Options icon in the top right corner

    click the camera icon in the top right

  4. Select the Overhead Video option to open the IRIS Camera live video feed.

    select the overhead video

  5. The Overhead Camera feed provides a top-down view of the work area and includes an Automatic setting for brightness and contrast.

    We can also turn off the Automatic feature and adjust the brightness and contrast manually to achieve a custom result.

    For this example, we’ve turned off the Automatic setting and adjusted the brightness and contrast to achieve a high-contrasting result between our black matte board and metal chainring.

    manual brightness contrast

  6. With our brightness and contrast now optimized for image capture, we’ll select the Copy Background Image button to copy the IRIS Camera view to the computer’s clipboard.

    copy the background image to the clipboard

  7. Now within CorelDRAW, we’ll paste our image capture into a new 24” x 12” document, then right click the image and select Edit Bitmap to open the image in Corel PHOTO-PAINT where are few more adjustments will be made.

    paste the background capture to coreldraw

    right click the image select edit bitmap

    open the image in corel photo paint

  8. Select the Crop Tool from the Toolbox on the left and draw a crop box around the chainring leaving a comfortable margin around the outside.

    select the crop tool

  9. At this point we’re going to clean up the teeth of our chainring using the Eraser tool. Doing so will provide a much better quality Vector Trace when we move back into CorelDRAW.

    cleaning up the chainring teeth

  10. Select the Eraser tool from the Toolbox on left and begin clicking and erasing any gray pixels seen on the tips of the chainring teeth.

    select the eraser tool

    cleaning up the chainring teeth

    The eraser tool comes with a few options to increase the size and shape of the tool, but for this example the default settings work out perfectly to match the curve on the tip of each chainring tooth.

  11. Once all the teeth of the chainring have been cleaned up, we’ll use the Invert Colors option in PHOTO-PAINT to invert the colors in our image capture.

    From the Menu bar at the top of the screen, select Image > Transform > Invert Colors to invert the image.

    invert the image colors

    invert the color results

  12. Now we’re going to remove the background of our image, which is now a gray by utilizing the Magic Wand Mask tool. Click and hold on the Rectangle Mask tool in the Toolbox on the left, and select the Magic Wand Mask tool from the options.

    magic wand mask

  13. Click on the black chainring image to create a selection of the chainring, then right click the selection and select Apply Smart Selection to Mask from the menu.

    click on the black chainring area

    apply the smart selection to the mask

  14. As a final step before moving back into CorelDRAW for our vector trace we’ll invert our mask selection by clicking the Invert Mask option from the Standard menu bar at the top of the screen.

    invert the selection to the background

  15. Then press Delete to remove the background.

    press delete to remove the background

  16. To finalize our image and move back into CorelDRAW, we’ll click the Finish Editing button in the Standard menu bar at the top of the screen, then select Yes when prompted to save changes to the bitmap

    finish editing

    yes to save changes

  17. Once PHOTO-PAINT has finalized our save, we’ll move over to CorelDRAW to create a vector tracing of our newly adjusted bitmap image.

    back in coreldraw

  18. Back in CorelDRAW with our image selected, we’ll select the Trace Bitmap button in the Property bar at the top of our screen and select Outline Trace > Low Quality Image from the options to open CorelDRAW’s PowerTrace feature.

    trace bitmap powertrace

    powertrace feature

  19. We’ll start by selecting the Color tab in the top right of PowerTrace, then setting our Color Mode to RGB and Colors to 2. These settings will simplify the image vector trace and give us a black and white only result.

    colortab option

    set color to rgb and colors to 2

  20. Next, we’ll go back to the Settings tab for a couple adjustments to our Detail and Smoothing settings.

    powertrace settings tab

  21. We’ll set the Detail to 100, and the Smoothing to 31 and click OK at the bottom of the screen.

    powertrace settings detail smoothing ok

  22. The PowerTrace feature isn’t perfect for all vector tracing projects, but for this black and white conversion and example, it works very well. Depending on various factors like brightness and contrast, bitmap capture DPI and lighting you may have to experiment with various PowerTrace settings to achieve the results you see here.

    powertrace benefits tracing

  23. Once our vector trace is complete, we’ll create a copy of our results and move them off to the side of our document area for use in a later step.

    copy set aside for later step

  24. To create our jig for the chainrings we’ll only need the outline of the chainring. To isolate the chainring outline, we’ll right click our vector group, select Break Apart from the menu options, then select the inner chainring holes we don’t need and press the Delete.

    break the curve apart

    chainring filled version

  25. With the chainring outline now isolated, we’re now going to create a jig with 4 columns and 2 rows of chainring holes.

    4x2 matrix of chainring parts

  26. A quick note here, turning on the Alignment and Dynamic Guides under the View menu within CorelDRAW will make aligning and creating our matrix of jig holes much easier in the following steps.

    alignment dynamic guides

  27. To create our jig matrix, we’ll start by selecting our chainring shape, and while holding the Shift key, drag a copy below the original and press the Spacebar to create a duplicate. Then delete the extra copy.

    duplicate chainring 1st column

  28. We’ll now select the two chainring shapes and repeat the process until we’ve created a 4 x 2 jig setup of chainring shapes which will become the holes in our jig.

    4x2 for final chainring placement

  29. Now select all the chainring shapes, then in the Color Palette on the right side of the screen, right click Black and left click none to give the chainring a black outline with no color fill.

    outline black inner fill and click none

    cut outlines for jig cutting

  30. We’re now ready to print and cut our chainring jig at the laser. We’ll be setting up our laser Process settings for corrugated cardboard. There are many types of materials suitable for jig applications - wood, acrylic, engravable plastic, and cardboard for example. Corrugated cardboard is a great material for a one-time use jig as it’s readily available and inexpensive.

  31. We’ll begin this portion of our project by printing the file to the Epilog Software Suite.

    print the chainring jig cut to laser

  32. Within the Epilog Software Suite, we’ll adjust the following settings:

    Engraving Settings
    Machine: 60-Watt CO2 Fusion Edge 12
    Process TypeVector Speed25% Power100% Frequency50%
    (Be sure to check the recommended materials settings in your machine's manual.)

    Then Print the file to the laser.

    software suite settings

  33. At the laser we’ll load our 24” x 12” sheet of corrugated cardboard onto the bed of the laser system in the top left corner, close the lid, focus the material, and press the Go button to begin cutting the job.

    loading cardboard in the bed

    laser cutting chainring jig cardboard

  34. Once the job is complete, we’ll remove all the unnecessary cutouts from the bed and place the jig back into position of the laser bed.

    remove the extra laser cut cardboard

  35. Now it’s time to prep our chainring parts for engraving.

  36. If we were using an Epilog fiber laser, we'd be able to mark directly on the chainring, but for this example we're using the Enduramark metal marking spray for CO2 lasers, a metal marking compound that gives our Fusion Edge with CO2 laser, the ability to mark on bare metal components and parts.

    metal parts fiber reference

    enduramark co2 metal marking compound spray

  37. We’ll layout the chainring parts onto a sheet of cardboard, then thoroughly cover the parts with the Enduramark Black spray until the part is uniformly covered with a single coat of the metal marking spray.

    applying spray to the parts

  38. Once the metal marking spray dries, we’ll place our chainring parts into our jig in preparation for laser marking.

    enduramark spray parts in jig at machine

  39. Back in CorelDRAW, we’ve gone ahead and used our jig file as a template to align and duplicate our marking file to the spaces in our jig where we’ve setup parts.

    coreldraw template final file

  40. The artwork we’ll be using for the chainrings includes a serial number, data matrix code, logo, and chainring description text.

    file setup and artwork

  41. With our artwork ready to go, we’ll select only the artwork we’ll be printing for the job.

    artwork selected for print

  42. Then we’ll select Print from the File menu at the top of the screen and be sure to click the Selection button in the Print range options. Before clicking print we can verify on the right that we are only printing the artwork selected to the Software Suite, then press Print.

    selection option for print

  43. In the Epilog Software Suite, we’ll leave the Process Type set to Engrave and adjust the perimeters for:

    Engraving Settings
    Machine: 60-Watt CO2 Fusion Edge 12
    DPI600 Speed30% Power100% Dithering PatternStucki Engraving DirectionBottom-Up
    (Be sure to check the recommended materials settings in your machine's manual.)

    Then, we’ll click the Print button to send our marking job to the laser

    software suite settings enduramark marking

  44. At the laser, we’ll focus the laser to our chainrings, and begin the job by pressing Go

    press go to begin the job

    engraving samples

    engraving cermark

    engraving cermark

  45. With the job complete, spray the chainring with water and wipe away the excess marking compound to reveal the final marking and finished product.

    wipe away excess marking spray with water

  46. There you have it, a chainring jig and artwork template created utilizing the IRIS Camera system and Corel’s Graphic Software Suite. Then we marked the part using an Epilog Fusion Edge laser machine and Enduramark.

    cardboard jig

    artwork template

    final engraved parts

  47. We hope these tips and techniques help you with your success and next laser project. Thanks for tuning in, we’ll see you next time.

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