Rosebud Casson here, guest blogging for the almighty Zap! Creatives!! I’ve been getting my work cut at Zap for a while now, after trying out various other places, and have found that the quality of service at Zap! is one to be reckoned with.
I’ll start off with the customer service. I’ve always ordered with Zap! by emailing them directly for a quote. To get a quote you need to have a ‘cut ready’ file, which just basically means your designs converted into an illustrator file that their lasers can read (for example – cut: R: 255 G: 0 B: 0, vector engrave: R: 0 G: 255 B:0, raster engrave : R: 128 G: 128 B:128, these are just a couple of examples of the RGB settings for engravings, but there are loads more weights of engraving you can play with!!) However, if you don’t have or know how to make a cut ready file, Zap! can do this for you! Their design service prices at £40 per hour, which can be a scary number at first if you are a small business starting out like me, but this hourly rate is broken down into minutes and their design team are really quick and efficient, so it rarely ends up costing that much. I so far haven’t used their design service, but have friends who have and they always come back with amazing designs, well thought out and to the exact criteria.
The tutorials on the Zap! website are also really easy to use and follow, I mean, I’m a bit of a novice at all this stuff when it comes to Illustrator templates, and even I managed to do it! I would also fully recommend tiling all of your own files (for example if you are wanting ten of one design, then tile the ten you want on your file instead of getting Zap! to do it for you. It works out MUCH cheaper when you tile it yourself!)
Above image is vector and raster engrave on cherry 4mm (large butterfly) and birch 3mm (small butterflies).
Anyway, moving on! So far I’ve spoken to a few people at Zap! about different services and ideas, and I’ve never found a business with such friendly and helpful staff. Any idea you have about their services and how it could work with your artwork, just email them! They are always willing to help, and even if they haven’t done what you are asking for, they will sometimes give it a good go to see if they can help you out. From small independent designers like me, to massive companies wanting big jobs done, they are always happy to help.
Emails are always answered quickly in my experience, and compared to most companies I have dealt with in the past, their customer service is second to none. They are quite honest with their lead times (depending on quiet and busy times) and will even sometimes help you out and arrange ‘Rush Orders’ for when you have accidentally left that one laser cutting job till the last minute and need it ASAP!
Now, what I am MOST excited about when it comes to Zap’s laser cutting services, is their new woods!!! Hmmmm… does that sound a bit sad? Who cares! Until about a month ago, Zap! only had the one bog standard wood to cut and engrave, which was a 3mm birch plywood. The wood is nice, but when you have a whole collection the same pale wood, it starts to look a bit boring. Just as I was starting to do some research into where to find more laserable woods, Zap! pulls it out the bag again, and releases their new Cherry, Walnut and Maple woods. Slightly thicker than the birch at 4mm, these woods are absolutely beautiful. (They also feel a millions times more stronger for even the most intricate laser cutting designs, that extra 1mm really does help!) I’ve done tests on each one and my personal favourites are the Cherry and Walnut.
The main thing I like about them is really just the colours and quality of the wood. It’s amazing what a few different shades of wood can do to a collection to make it look a bit more interesting. Especially if like me, your work is largely made from wood, so I don’t even have any coloured acrylic to brighten things up (although after looking through Zap!s collection of coloured acrylics available, I may be tempted to add a splash of colour in the near future…)
What I absolutely love about laser cutting is the amount of detail you can get. The image above is a Chrysanthemum necklace, engraved using vector engrave setting at R: 0 G: 0 B: 255 at stroke point 0.001, on Walnut wood. Really, anything is possible. Whether you want to make jewellery, wall décor, wedding accessories, signage…the list goes on, I’d seriously recommend Zap!
Zap! also offer a printing service on the very same woods. I haven’t used this service before as I wasn’t sure how my work would translate into being printed, but I am seriously excited to move forward and get some samples for my next collection. Just from browsing their twitter I have seen how amazing the printed charms look with their new machines, and how happy their customers are with them. So that’s my next step – enter the scary world of printed charms! I will of course be sticking with my trusty friends, Cherry and Walnut - for the time being anyway!
Well, that’s it from me anyway. I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings about Zap and have found some of this useful for when delving into the world of laser cutting for yourself!
If you want to see any of my products and designs, then please visit www.rosebudcasson.co.uk for more details, and my awesome new shop will be launched on Friday September 11th, so write that down in your diaries!
Thanks for reading,
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