If you didn't know, here's a way to get snazzy high contrast text onto acrylic.
Theoretically the Epilog laser we use should be able to use color mapping to simultaneously etch raster and vector outlines - but I haven't been able to get that to work with the software at hand.
So, I export the cutting layout from SolidWorks as an Adobe Illustrator file. Then I open it in Inkscape, add some text where I want it, then delete the outlines and send it to the laser cutter as a raster file with a fairly high power setting to get deep surface etching. Leave the sheet in the cutter.
From SolidWorks, cut the parts themselves in vector mode. Remove the parts.
Now, run over the area with the text with a permanent marker for light colored acrylic. Don't worry about overflow - if you wipe over it with a paper towel immediately afterwards, you should get ink soaked into the text and a flawless surface elsewhere.
To be honest, this is pretty much as simple as it gets: buy a an inexpensive Fiskars "Fingertip Control Swivel Knife" and mount it into a modified dremel mounting tool for the Fab@Home model II and take advantage of all the automated goodness.
Admittedly, this doesn't get pinpoint accuracy out of the box, but the main issue is that sharp corners are rounded off because the blade has to rotate within the material. This, however, is predictable behavior, and can be compensated for with software now in development.
My research is winding down and the Cornell Computational Synthesis Lab, home of the Fab@Home project has turned its collective effort to dealing with the mess.
As we are constantly experimenting with hardware design and new tools for the Fab@Home, we tend to have a number of them lying around sticking in draws and so on.
I designed a wall mounted rack for them, taking advantage of the Model II's universal quick mount feature. Initially the plan was to have sliding mounts placed in wall mounted rails to allow for a wide range of tools. With the addition of drill holes into the tabs on the sliders, the simpler option of just screwing them into the wall presented itself.
So I did:
And chaos was pushed back once more:
Instructions on the wiki, CAD files, and Ponoko templates pending.