Introduction: Corkmap - Lasercutting Cork

About: Alejandro is an industrial designer who focuses on creating impact through his designs. He has a broad background having worked at a graphic design agency, a furniture manufacturer, founded a successful furnit…

I love maps but most important I love meeting people from different parts of the world. Getting to know their stories and understanding their roots and history makes me feel connected to them. While I was doing my residency at Pier 9 we had recently moved to a new office space with white clean walls.

I was lucky to meet quite a lot of talented people so I decided to make a Diversity Corkmap so everyone can grab a pin and place it on the map to show where they were from. Hopefully that started a conversation with the rest of the people.

I also plan to make one for my home and start putting pins for all my future travel plans! This is an affordable 2-hour project that will make your office or home look awesome.

Step 1: ​Materials

For this project you need:

  • Cork Roll – 1/16” x 24” x 48” (this was a little too thin, you might want to get a 1/8" thick)
  • Epilog Lasercutter, Model Legend 36EXT (120 Watts, 24” x 36” workbed)
  • Double-sided tape
  • World map vector file (included in this step)

Step 2: Unrolling

I found the cork roll stocked in the materials storage bin at Pier 9 and it probably was there for quite a while since I was the first person to use those cork rolls. As I unrolled it I saw how bumpy it was and that it didn’t lay flat on the table. I put some books and heavy stuff I had to straighten it for a while. Be careful because 1/16” thick is delicate and can crumble.

Step 3: Adjusting Cork on Worktable and Laser Cutting

As the cork was kind of bumpy I used some tape to keep the cork flat to the laser cutter worktable. Also, Epilog laser cutters are pretty cool because you can lift up the rulers to make the cork fit better and then snap them down so it grabs the cork better. In addition, I was hoping that once I have the vacuum turned on it will hold the cork better in place but that didn’t happen.

Once you have the cork in place fire the job. I used the same setup for wood ⅛” (3 mm) on a Epilog 120 Watt:

  • SPEED: 50
  • POWER: 40
  • FREQUENCY: 500

If you have another Epilog laser cutter I recommend checking their manual page 205-213.

Remember that when you are cutting the Vectors, Stroke weight: to 0.01 on Adobe Illustrator or "hairline" on Corel Draw.

Step 4: Removing - Don't Forget the Small Islands!

Before removing the map you recently cut it is a good idea to tape the map to the rest of the cork. By doing this you will keep the continents/countries in their relative distance and not loosing some small islands of the world.

Step 5: Double-sided Tape

Use double-sided tape and stick one side to the map. I used a wide (3 inches) tape that I cut into smaller pieces to fit the different corners of the world.

Step 6: Framing Your Map

I used the negative cutout as my frame to tape my map to the wall. Pick your favorite place on the wall where you want to place your corkmap and tape the cutout with painters tape. It just a reference, you don’t need to tape it tight. Then go ahead and tape the rest of the world one by one. I lost a few countries while I was doing this so please forgive me if you don’t find it…

Step 7: Unframe and Enjoy!

Now, take of the frame and you are done! Enjoy!