Instructables

Create a Site Toporaphic Model using a Laser Cutter

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Often times when faced with to present complex technical information depicted in the form of drawings, it is difficult for those who are unfamiliar or without any background training to comprehend the information presented such as topography. By creating objects a model, that replicate real world objects it is easy for anyone to understand contour data, including potential clients that need to be convinced and sold your design.

By using the following computer based software:

• Arcmap (only necessary if contour drawing is not giverN0
• Rhino 3d (to create cut file)
• Adobe Illustrator (to send to laser cutter

By using software programs are ones that one is most likely familiar with, along with the following steps it is easy to create a model.

1. Gather data may be given or use arcmap (1.5hrs if needed)
2. Convert data into cut file (2.5 hrs)
3. Cut model on laser cutter (1.5 hrs)
4. Assemble model (1.5 hrs)

7 hours is the total time needed to create model (based on a 18” x 24” model with approximately 30 layers)
 
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Step 1: Gathering surface data

Picture of gathering surface data
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Using arcmap to find contour data

Note: If you already have your contour drawing from another source you can move on to step 2

Surface data can be gathered from a number of sources available to the general public. The easiest type of data to work with is in the form of contour data, were individual lines represent various breaks in the surface topography, creating essentially a series of steps, depicting formation.

Typically when locating data for a site within the state of Iowa, it is available as a GIS file, which can then be opened in any software such as arcmap or a similar software package. Once you have loaded the data for the correct site you can then export the data into a autocad file that can then be used to begin assigning elevations to the data to create a 3 dimensional depiction.

1. Find and load data into arcmap, using gis files.
2. Clip data to necessary limits (located in spatial analysis toolbox)
3. Export data to cad (dwg file)

Hint: Most states have the data available for the "Department of Natural Resources"
lordhazzard3 years ago
This could totally be used for minecraft!
nanosec123 years ago
jealous i am of your laser cutter, or that you have access to one at all, would that I had as much
WolfKodi3 years ago
Wow, you must have a pretty awesome laser cutter to get this going.