Introduction: Architecture and Interior Design Scale Model for Laser Cut

I believe every Architecture or Interior Design student will face the challenge of producing a scale model of a project to present to a professor, or perhaps, for a prospective client! Scale models used to be made by hand, cutting pieces of plywood or cardboard with a blade, but nowadays we are able to make good use of digital fabrication techniques to make really precise and neat parts for the models.

In this Instructable my aim is to highlight the path I walked trough to make a model and share my experience.


- First and more important: your ideas and creativity!

- Some experience in a 2d vector software, such as AutoCAD or Inkscape.

- Plywood and any other material you would like to use.

- Laser cutter.

Step 1: Step 01: From the 3D Model to the Physical Scale Model

-The project you made and want to scale down

I know you had a hard time and put lots of hours do produce a beautiful 3D virtual model. Developing this model is the first step, but to make the laser cut files it will be used only to check the measurements. This mean that you actually have to redesign every single part you want to have in the physical model in order to have a neat work.

- Think about the scale your model is going to be.

To the model I`m presenting here, I used the 1:50 scale. Why? Simple. The thickness of the walls and the material I wanted to used drove me there. This is the line of thought I had: I have 3mm thickness plywood, and the thickness of the walls in my project (real life thickness) is 15cm. So, I could use the thickness of the plywood as the thickness of the wall, and that gave me exactly 1:50. (PS.: To say the truth, the thickness of the walls in my project where in fact 10cm, but the 3mm plywood is a very good material to work with, so I changed the thickness of the walls from the project to make it easier to work. For this kind of thing that you have to redesign your files to the scale model. Changing the thickness of the wall was not going to ruin my project, and the model could be used to visualize the spaces in the same way).

Step 2: Step2: Designing the Parts for Laser Cut

- Laser cut?

If you never tried laser cut before, its a good idea to try to do the process before at least once. Verify in your local makerspace what can you do to learn it. Its a very straightforward process.

- Designing the parts

Check dimensions of your project and start to design the files for the laser cut. You can make the files (or the parts) in real life size in Autocad, and then scale them down. I usually prefer to design the parts of the size they are going to be (like: a 3m tall wall will be 60mm tall in the scale model of 1:50. I like to design straight with 60mm, but this is only my choice).

Use the laser cutter the make drawings of some particular things of your project. In mine I used it to show the door openings, the position of rainwater pipes and to mark the names I gave to the pieces in order to make the assemble easier and intuitive. After I printed I realized I could make some texture to the floor. Maybe next time.

- Slot joints

If you are really good in visualizing shapes, you can use slot joints for a neater work and to make it easier to assemble. If this is too complicated, just use some glue to assemble and move on!

Step 3: Step 3: Cut the Pieces and Assemble!

Here I present some images and videos of my parts and model. If you invested some time to make really good files to the laser cuter, this will be really fast!

Assemble it and enjoy!

Step 4: Step 4: Push Foward

Now that you have your model, push forward to impress you professor (or clients!) and make a good use of it.

You can paint for example. Or make scale furniture to play around with the layout of the spaces.

In my model I used laser cut and 3d print to make some furniture to complement it. Use your creativity and share your experience.

Thanks for looking! I hope you find this useful!

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