Introduction: Laser Cut Boxes

Initially this was an assignment given to us from our DFAB elective called Precious Cargo. Our object was to learn to use online box generators, edit the box in RHINO, and the laser cut a box at a FabLab in town.

Here is the process I used and all the other in betweens in learning this new technology.

You'll need the internet, Adobe Reader, RHINO or Illustrator, access to a laser cutter, and the materials you want to make your box out of (masonite, plywood, plexiglass, etc.)

Adobe Reader is a free download

RHINO is a free download for MAC

Step 1: Box Generators

Box generators are great. They save a lot of time and are super easy.

Here are a few sites: (Display Image & the generator I used for my box)

1. Type in your desired dimensions

2. Know your material thickness. Hard Board or Masonite, which I used is, is .125 inches

3. Click Design It! & a PDF will automatically download.

Step 2: Importing the PDF Into Rhino

1. Open Rhino

2. File > Import > PDF Box File

This should create vectors in your RHINO displays. From here you can edit the box as you wish.

Step 3: Vector Rendering in RHINO

Since I wanted a hinged lid, I had to do a little edit to my box, but if you want to leave it, save as an illustrator file (.ai) and skip to step 5.

1. With your Polyline tool, your going to want to draw lines to get rid of the extremities so the box lid will sit on top of your box sides. This is demonstrated in the first image.

2. Delete the extremities with your Trim tool by highlighting everything and clicking on the lines you want to get rid of. When done hit enter then with the Join tool connect everything together.

3. The second image is the addition of the two lid hinges. With rectangle tool add two .20" x .20" boxes at the very corners of your box, Join, then delete the vector between the small boxes and the box lid so it looks like my image.

4. I got rid of the extremities on my box sides by drawing with my Polyline and deleting the vectors I didn't want. this will allow a smooth surface for you lid to sit on. Don't forget to Join everything! Reference the third image.

Step 4: Continuation of Hinges

1. On the box sides create a .20" x .20" box, placing it at the corner of your box side.

2. Draw a .50" x .50" circle and center it to the .2 x.2 box with your Align Tool, Horizontally and Vertically, so it looks like the first image.

3. Draw an Arc connecting the circle on both sides to the box sides with your Arc: tangent, tangent, radius Tool. Follow the steps that Rhino has in their help bar.

4. Highlight everything and Trim the parts unnecessary. Do the same thing on the other side (like the second image) then join them.

5. This is the finished box, if you would like to add pattern use your vector tool and add in your pattern. Use your blue and red layers to draw. Windows > Show Layers Panel > Add Layer > Change Layer Color

Blue is etching, Red is cutting

6. Save as an Illustrator file (.ai)

Step 5: Laser Cutting

Once getting to the FabLab, the wonderful technicians helped me get set up in the program for the laser cutter. For etching I colored the vectors a different color than the cutting vectors. This is how the program tells the machine which to do, but other than that I had a lot of help setting up the program from the technicians.

The first image is of the laster cutter in process & the second image is of the finished process with me popping out the fully cut pieces.

Step 6: Finished Boxes

Here are the finished boxes in the process of being glued together. I used liquid nails because that was what I had around, but I think wood glue, crazy glue, or any adhesive would work just fine. But I noticed, even with the liquid nails, it was easily pulled apart if handled too roughly.

Step 7: Foam Milling

As a addition to my project I included CNC milled foam to my precious tiles could rest inside of the boxes. I just booleaned the negative image of the tile into a solid box, put the file into aspire and milled out the foam on the CNC in our wood-shop.