Introduction: Lasercut 3D Map of a Mountain

About: ZB45 Makerspace is based in Amsterdam. Every Tuesday we have an "open lab" between 12.00 - 21.30. You are welcome to come by to try the diverent machines we have. Like the lasercutters, 3D printers,…

Since I am working on a 3D Printing Geo workshop at ZB45 Makerspace in Amsterdam, I was curious what more could be done with the stl files I got from Terrain2stl.

I found the Instructable Easy 3D Topographical Maps by Makendo. This was done with the 123D Make App, which does not exists anymore. You can now use the Slicer function in Fusion 360. But for our 3D Printing Geo Workshop we use Tinkercad, so I tried to find a way to slice the stl files here.

Tinkercad does not have a slicer function, so I used the Community Shape Generator: Venetian slats.

See here how it works.

Step 1: Clean Your Terrain2stl File in Tinkercad

Open the stl file from Terrain2stl in Tinkercad. Scale it till you have the right size, but make it 1.5 of 2 times higher, for a more dramatic view. Drag the model till only the mountain raises above the workplane, and cut off the part underneath the workplane with a hole cube of the right size. (Best be done with a cube of the surface dimensions of the whole model and make it 20mm high, then move the cube 20mm down, so it is just below the workplane.)

Now open the Community Shape Generator: Venetian slats.

Step 2: Change the Settings of the Venetian Slat Genarator

Change the settings of the Venetian Slats to (the numbers are the ones I used in this example):

  • # Of Slats: 5 (or amount of layers you want.)
  • Height: 15 mm (this is the height of the model, but the height of the model depends on the amount of Slats + the Thickness + the Gaps of 1 mm)
  • Width: 50 mm (but is adjustable around the model by dragging the corners)
  • Thickness: 3 mm (this is the thickness of the material you use to laser cut)
  • Gap: 1 (is the minimum Gap width, add the amounts of Gaps in the height of you model before slicing, to compensate these gaps)
  • Angle: 0

Make your model Hole instead of Solid.

Put the pack of Slats over the model and GROUP them, so you get a hollow shape of the mountain in the Slats.

Export the first svg of the bottom layer.

Step 3: Cut Off the Lower Slat and Export Svg

Make a cube and size it a bit bigger then the surface of the Slats. And make it 3mm high. Make it Hole instead of Solid, to cut off the lower Slat.

DUPLICATE the cube and move it upwards.

Now GROUP the pack of Slats and the block on the workplane, so you cut off the lower Slat. Then select the pack of Slats and click D on your keyboard, to dump it on the workplane. You can now EXPORT the second svg.

Then select the upper block and click D on your keyboard, to dump it on the workplane, and repeat the steps of DUPLICATE, GROUP, D and EXPORT svg. Till all the layers are exported as svg files.

Step 4: Lasercut Your Svg Files and Assemble Your Mountain

Open the svg files and copy them to one file in Inkscape (or other vector program). Set the right colors for the lasercutter (red for marking and blue for cutting in our case). Laser cut the piece and put them together with glue.

We already cut out the name of the mountain while making the stl files for 3D Printing in Tinkercad. Make sure you mirror the text, because you want to read it from the bottom side.