Hacking Halloween.

Last year we posted a blog about the amazing jack ’o lanterns by Ray Villafane, who has scary skills when it comes to carving.

This year we wanted to have a go ourselves. So when Bootstrap Ltd invited us to a ‘Hacking Halloween’ Party at their Fab Lab, it seems our dreams had come true.

The afternoon was spent with Terry Cox of Bootstrap, and the Tech Tribers (www.techtribes.je) in the Fab Lab in Jersey, laser cutting and etching pumpkins.

The equipment used was a 80watt carbon laser cutter controlled by a computer program which can take input form any CAD program that can save dxf files.


First the pumpkins have to be positioned under the laser at the optimum distance for the laser to cut through the pumpkins flesh.


The laser pattern is then lined up on the surface, so that the pattern is centralised.


Then the cutting begins. The pattern is inputted into the machine via a computer that sizes the pattern appropriately.


Laser cutting is very precise on a flat surface, however on the curved surface of a pumpkin the optimum distance of the laser cannot be achieved consistently, which effects the depth which it can cut. You can see it here by the wider makings at the edge of the eyes and mouth.


Once completed, all that’s left is to remove the cut pieces.


In some locations the pieces need assistance from a Stanley knife to come free, where the laser was unable to cut deep enough.


We had a go with several pumpkins with differing sizes, this one was the largest and so caused a challenge with the skin depth.


The precision of the laser meant that very narrow strips of the skin could be left between holes, such as in the mouth pattern.


Terry showed us the computer program for sending the patterns to the laser cutter and also changed the pattern to one which cut and also etched the surface of the pumpkin.


The etching in progress.


The final product, with the etching on the irises of the eye and on the teeth.


Our final products. We think they came out well and will certainly make the locals kids envious!


The Vesta Architecture Pumpkins.


The Tech Tribes and Vesta Lanterns.


Can’t wait to light them up on Thursday!


Images provided by:

Rob Dudley @robdudley and Charles Robertson @charles_jsy.

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