Introduction: Laser Cut 3D Models

About: YuKonstruct is a non-profit society which provides an enthusiastic community of makers and entrepreneurs affordable access to space, equipment and knowledge. This community serves to embrace the individual and…

As part of our youth programming, YuKonstruct hosted a workshop on making laser cut 3D models. Participants were 10 to 13 years old and learned the basics of setting up files for cutting on our Epilog laser cutter.

YuKonstruct is the first makerspace in Canada's north. Our mission is to provide access to shared space, quality tools, available expertise, and a collaborative environment to help makers build anything!

Step 1: Software, Hardware and Materials

For this workshop we used:

  • 123D Make, free software for converting 3D models to 2D plans
  • Corel Draw (for sending the plans to the laser cutter)
  • Laser cutter
  • ¼" birch plywood

Step 2: Using 123D Make

Participants selected one of the sample shapes in 123D Make. The rocket ship was a popular choice! For this instructable and the workshop example we used the rhino.

There are several options in 123D Make for construction techniques:

  • Stacked slices
  • Interlocked slices
  • Curve
  • Radial slices
  • Folded planels, and
  • 3D slices

Participants were given a sheet of plywood and allowed to select their construction technique (folded panels and 3D slices excluded).

Students were able to manipulate the size of the model and location of the slices with the tools in 123D Make. With the same size piece of wood, you can make a much bigger model using interlocked slices compared to stacked slices.

Once students were happy with their models on the computer screen and any model issues were resolved, the files were exported for laser cutting.

Step 3: Setting Up the Corel Draw Files & Assembly

123D Make is not very good at nesting pieces, so some pieces were moved around on the sheets in Corel Draw to minimize the amount of wastage before they were sent to the laser.

Once the pieces were cut, participants glued them together with wood glue.