Introduction: Laser Cut Cardboard Curtains

I moved into the place of a friend where there were no window shades in the sleeping room.

So I decided to add some. The challenge:

  • The construction needs to be temporary, i.e. 100 % removable when I move out.
  • Shades should be easy to put up in the evening, and easy to take down in the morning.
  • I’m not experienced working with fabrics, in particular sewing. So better avoid that.

Fortunately the Fab Lab Berlin is just across the street, with a Trotec Speedy 400 80 W laser cutter waiting to be used.

Step 1: What You Need

When shopping at Modulor in Berlin, I eventually settled for:

  • sheets of finnboard, 1.5 mm, a high quality cardboard
  • suction cups with hooks, Ø 40 mm

Access to a laser cutter is at least nice to have. (Cutting with a knife is also an option.)

Step 2: Measure Your Window

My window consists of four glass segments, each 330 mm wide. The lower segments are 465 mm high, and the upper segments are 1,265 mm high.

Step 3: Design the Shades

To prepare the design I used Rhino 5, but basically any vector drawing program will do. The curtains are about 20 mm less high than the glasses. That way they can be easily put over the hooks. To keep the laser from being bored, I added some artwork to the top pieces:

Red lines are for cutting, blue lines for marking, i.e. cutting with low power.

Step 4: Laser Cut

First I did some test cuts to figure out the power needed for cutting and for marking.

Step 5: Install

Put the suction cups on the window, and hang the laser cut cardboard curtains. You may want to hang the Voyager plaque facing outside, just in case – you know – of visitors.

The lower curtains are a bit too short, but that’s fine; I don’t need it totally dark. To get longer curtains, I could get larger sheets of finnboard and – caution – operate the laser with open front and back door.