Making a Pittsburgh Map Coaster

Inspired by Dr. Chris Harrison’s Laser-Cut Map project, and since I have a laser cutter myself (because why not), I decided to make my own Pittsburgh Map Coaster, and probably another one for Shanghai. I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for about 6 years now and there’s definitely a part inside me that belongs to Pittsburgh.

Instead of starting directly from OpenStreetMaps, I decided to work with mapbox which takes data from OpenStreetMaps. The major reason behind this is that it provides a lot of styling options, which allows me to create a binary map without much effort.

Pittsburgh Map in Binary Colors

The original PNG is at a resolution of 8000×8000, but I don’t think the software that came along with it can handle that. So I will be supplying a 2000×2000 image to the laser cutter instead.

Now this looks great. Time to engrave.

Engrave away!

The first attempt is at 40% power and 100mm/s speed.

Laser Engraved Pittsburgh Map Take 1

This looks great, but it engraves too deep and burnt the wood a little. So I’m lowering power to 30% and upping speed to 200mm/s. I also circular cut the product with 60% power and 10mm/s speed.

Higher speed + lower power + circular cut
Close up
Used as a coaster

By Yifan Gu

aka. Frank, aka. 顾屹凡


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