Picture of Escher Print
Make a physical Escher print by cutting different parts of a tessellation in different materials.
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Step 1: Get image

Picture of Get image
Get a digital copy of your favorite tessellation either by scanning a paper copy of searching the web.

I chose reptiles.

Step 2: Create CAD file

Picture of Create CAD file
Convert the image to a vector format.

I converted the jpeg to a tiff and then used Adobe Streamline to convert it from a raster image to a dxf. The dxf was really messy, so I cleaned it up by hand using AutoCAD and cut out everything but a single repeating tile.

Both the raw and cleaned dxfs are in the files section.

Step 3: Remove excess points

Streamline generated too many points, but could not be trusted make good vector files at lower point densities. Knowing that 8 billion points at every corner of the drawing would only slow down the cutting process (or worse, overload the tool's limited memory), I deleted extra points by hand. When three points form a line, delete the middle point. Use your judgement and remove points that are beyond the resolution of the tool.
repguy20201 year ago
Beautiful work. Not exactly a print, not quite a sculpture, not stained glass, but an art form unto itself. I'm glad I found it, though I can never hope to make one remotely like it. Simply wicked!
stasterisk6 years ago
How do you get OMAX to cut non-closed polygons?
ewilhelm (author)  stasterisk6 years ago
You have to manually set the lead-in and lead-out lines. I think I cut all of those first -- having put them on a separate layer and cutting job, -- and set the kerf on the machine to zero so it would cut in the center of the lines.
That's incredible! I wish I had a laser cutter now........
gowithflo8 years ago
Shut UP! That is awesome. OK I have a thought, if you only cut one, and you had three colors of spray paint you could make some ferocious stencil art by spraying once, rotating, changing color, spray, rotate, change.... am i right? Can you imagine how disorienting it would be to walk on a whole sidewalk covered in this?
IIIIIIIII9 years ago
wow! too much cutting needs patience
You use a laser cutter ;-)
lazinet8 years ago
Cool design really, funny & gorgeous, must be a great decor at home, but seems a bit fragile.
ewilhelm (author)  lazinet8 years ago
I am careful with it, but I'm also careful with all the rest of the art hanging around the house. It's not super fragile or anything.
This is a great idea. What kind of class are you taking, or where do you work that allows you acess to such equipment? And what kind of equipment is it? I saw you used an "abrasive jet" to cut the aluminum. I am in a wlding class that has a plasma cutter, but nowhere near anything with that kind of precision. Care to lead me to some more info on the tools?
ewilhelm (author)  Zombie Stomp8 years ago
I used the abrasive jet machining center from Omax while still at the MIT Media lab. The acrylic is all cut with a laser cutter (also at the Media Lab, but we have one at Squid Labs too). These tools are becoming more common and you can probably find a shop nearby to do it.

Sk8rDuck8 years ago
dude, That is so awesome!
it does require CAM does it?
it does require CAM does it?
Very nice. I have an original tessellation i've been wanting to do this with - but so far no luck. Mine has the same form in six different colours, and i'd love to use wood, copper, marble, glass, alabaster and ceramic. I will keep at it - and this was helpful material!