Shibaura Institute of Technology

Laser Cutting - Model Fabrication & Research Projects

Published on: 06/26/2018 Author: Trotec Laser Japan

About the Institute

The Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) is an establishment that has been set up by the 'Promotional Project of Global Human Resource Development' committee. It is the only private science and engineering institution that has been turned into a Top Global University by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology. 

Today, SIT has more than 800 overseas exchange students studying at its various campuses in Japan. In 2013, its Toyosu campus obtained a small, compact Trotec laser cutter to be part of the School of Architecture & Design. Then, in 2017, a mid-sized Trotec Speedy 400 was introduced to the university for wider use across all faculties. Both units are now seeing extensive use, mostly for fabricating models for the architecture students, as well as the conducting of research projects. And sometimes, SIT hosts a range of hands-on workshops for the local children, as part of its program of 'giving back' to the community.

Children’s Workshop: “Let’s Get Together & Create a Futuristic House!”

This fun workshop is part of the 'Open Tech Kids' program, run by SIT. It's driving force has been Assistant Professor Keita Aoshima of the School of Architecture. Using the leading-edge high-quality laser cutting machines from Trotec, teams of children as well as foreign exchange students get the chance to fabricate their very own tiny model 'room'. Each individual finished room is then combined to help build a large, innovative 'home for everyone'.

Through this fun, collaborative exercise, the participating children can learn about communications skills, architectural flows as well as the general profession of an architect. Exchange students are also able to attempt collaborating in Japanese and will slowly become more confident in this new style of working. Each year, the workshop is held four times. And it always proves to be a great, popular success! 

Application & Challenge

Upon joining SIT back in 2013, Professor Aoshima very quickly expressed the desired to purchase a laser cutter for the university. While still somewhat of a rarity at Japanese universities, laser cutting machines are very much a part of the expected landscape at other educational establishments around the world. Due to this uncommon request, Professor Aoshima worked very hard to acquire enough funding to support this request. On approaching the numerous affiliated research laboratories, finally the money was raised! The Trotec laser cutter was swiftly purchased, and students immediately began utilising it for many fabrication and architectural assignments.

Once the children's workshops began running, and the cutter was being used even more, another machine was purchased in 2017. It was obvious that they required a larger laser machine, thus discovering the Speedy 400. It was installed as a shared piece of equipment at the SIT research laboratories. So, instead of only being used by faculty-specific teachers and students, it was now available to the entire university! Many other students jumped at the opportunity to use such a cutting-edge piece of technology, including a lot of mechanical and electrical engineering students.  

"Trotec products are of a very high standard. I have been very impressed with the processing speed of our new Speedy 400 laser machine - its fast speed is very helpful. I should also point out that these days, more and more of our classes are beginning to adopt a problem-based learning approach, meaning that we need to quickly and reliably produce accurate products as we need them. What's more, in my own personal 'product design' research laboratory, it is necessary to be able to create different things quickly as new forms of communication. In these instances, it is truly important to be able to produce something quickly and easily, and the Trotec machine is holding up very nicely to the job. I personally find the use of the laser machine to be very valuable to myself and my students."
- Assistant Professor Keita Aoshima - School of Architecture, Shibaura Institute of Technology -

The Trotec Solution

Standard Graphics Program

Trotec laser machines can be operated with standard graphics programs, including Adobe Illustrator. This is great for the students and teachers of SIT as it is a very straightforward operational interface that is generally known by all. Using the standardised configuration of the laser machine, students can create and generate their very own designs. The user-friendliness of Adobe Illustrator then means they can take their proposals all the way from the designing process to the fabricating process. 

Highest Safety Standards

When looking for a laser machine to purchase, SIT particularly liked Trotec safety standards. The interlocking cabinet was a notable feature, as it was important to be able to halt operation if someone lifted the cover. The emphasis was always on student safety - working with so many students meant SIT needed the safest option available. Moreover, the machines were intended to also be used in the presence of children, reinforcing the need for a safe laser machine. Trotec's safety standards were the only ones that truly stood up to SIT's expectations.

Speed & Durability

"When I think of lasers, I think of a high-powered pencil. When I pick up a pen directly in my hand, I want to be able to draw an image and have the cutter reproduce it exactly. And that's almost exactly what Trotec machines do. Our 2013 machine hasn't failed us yet – I get the impression that Trotec products are designed to be for long-term use, and that makes me and my students very happy!" - Professor Keita Aoshima

laser engraver speedy

Available Machines at SIT

  • CO2 laser (30W) + Atmos Compact Exhaust System (115V)
  • CO2 laser (80W) + Atmos Duo Plus Exhaust System (230V)

These two machines tend to operate for about 5 - 10hrs a week. However, from late December and into January, operation peaks and everyday usage by students usually skyrockets. To make waiting times shorter and double the amount of work being done, there are plans to install a second Speedy 400 laser machine soon.

Materials include...

  • Timber & wood (larch plywood, basswood)
  • Cardboard (kent paper, block copy paper, chipboard)
  • Acrylic

The Trotec Selling-Point

Professor Aoshima mentioned that it was a Trotec salesperson that convinced him to decide on Trotec as the perfect laser supplier. The salesperson and he were talking, and the salesperson began relaying a story about a female designer who had a Trotec laser machine installed inside her home. On hearing that, Aoshima suddenly felt that one day, everyone would have a laser machine in their living rooms - just like a television or a refrigerator! So, designers will be able to have their own factories right there next to them. Talking and laughing with the salesperson about such crazy future developments is what Aoshima believes led him to officially recommending Trotec Japan to his superiors over at SIT, "Friendliness paired with professionalism is very important to me, and having this fun conversation convinced me that Trotec were the best" - Professor Keita Aoshima.