Corrugated cardboard has the interesting property of being partially transparent in one particular direction: that of the corrugations. When you construct something with stacked slices of corrugated cardboard, you can see through it if you look at it the right way. When I was slicing topographical maps, it occurred to me to try to slice it in a direction other than horizontal. You lose the contours, but the roughness of the surface I thought might look interesting if back-lit. It ends up looking quite dynamic when you walk past it:

To make this lamp, you will need access to a laser cutter, some corrugated cardboard, a $75 LED panel, and some 2×4 lumber.

Step 1: Design

LED panels meant for ceiling tiles are inexpensive and provide light over a 4 square foot area. That size is easy enough to laser cut pieces for and will preserve lots of detail. It does make for rather a lot of cardboard, though: 132 pieces consuming 8 sheets of 2'×3' cardboard. Choosing a design that is REALLY topographically interesting (e.g. a mountain) may consume too much cardboard (and cause you to stand in front of the laser cutter for rather more time than you intended). I chose part of the Grand Canyon; a place I've never been to but have always been fascinated by.

<p>Great instructable and I'm getting ready to make 2 of these. I was wondering what thickness of corrugated cardboard you used? I'm going to order the lasercutting, and I can choose between 3mm and 1.5mm cardboard. 1.5mm might give more definition, but of course 3mm will mean less cardboard, and maybe more light? Any tips?</p>
<p>I think it was about 4.5 mm. 1.5 mm would be a TON of work!</p>
3mm seems to be the thickest I can get cut, since I don't have a laser cutter. Guess it'll have to do.
Almost finished.
<p>Nice! This is the Seattle area?</p>
Almost finished.
<p>I was looking to do this for my house, but the area I was hoping to do was Seattle. It just levels off the water, however. <br>Do you know of any resources to get an stl of underwater terrain as well? If not, it looks like maybe I'll just have to do those areas in blue acrylic or something.</p>
<p>No, I don't. Am also interested in this - hopefully someone somewhere takes it on.</p>
<p>Nice Gif!</p>
<p>Thanks Gabi. I'm enjoying having access to a manual camera - nice not having the exposure jumping all over the place</p>
<p>Such a lovely way to create textured lighting! </p>
<p>Would never have thought that this was made from cardboard; splendid job. :)</p>
I've seen the Great Wall, Stonehenge, and the Pyramids, but the Grand Canyon is the one place that was better than the best photos. I suggest you make the trip and finally see it. Oh, and excellent project :)
Good advice, and thanks
<p>At first glance I thought you were doing something along the lines of <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Making-Lichtenberg-Figures-in-Wood/" style="background-color: initial;">lichtenburg figures</a>, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a totally different type of project.</p><p>Nice work Scott, very cool project!</p>
<p>I thought the same thing! But diving in, it turned out to be so much cooler...</p>
<p>Thanks Sam. Glad I pursued this particular distraction.</p>
<p>Beautiful! I can't believe you created that effect wth cardboard :)</p>
<p>Thanks very much. Honestly, neither can I - switching the panel on for the first time and seeing how it lit up was a profoundly happy moment</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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