Introduction: Paper Tyhpoon

About: Michael Koehle is the CNC shop assistant at Autodesk Pier 9. His background is in engineering and in art. He combines these to make work using drawing, painting, CNC, 3D printing, and laser cutting.

This Instructable documents reproducing a black and white image using laser cut strips of paper. Each paper strip is printed with a gradient, then laser cut to a depth matching a specific column of pixels from the source image. The strips can be thought of as a cross section of the height map of the image.

Step 1: The Strip

I wrote Octave code that would sample columns of pixels at a fixed interval and convert this column of intensities into a vector drawing. Black pixels would be set to a minimum distance and white pixels were set to the maximum strip width. This vector drawing was saved as an SVG. In a separate jpg file, a gradient spanning the strips width was created.

Step 2: The Support

To guide the gluing of the strips, I laser cut a pattern into several 1/4” thick wood panels. Each guide line is 1/16” apart. I varied their appearance to avoid confusion. I backed the panels with a frame for support.

Step 3: 3. Printing, Cutting, Folding and Gluing, 2880 Times

Each piece of paper was first printed with several gradients, and then laser cut. I folded each strip at its base at about a 30 degree angle, using the guide shown, to give the piece some volume. Then I glued each strip in place following the guide lines, using a pH neutral glue. It took 3 strips to span the vertical distance. The total number of strips for the 60” wide piece was 2880.