123dMake and Laser Cutting With Benbox




Introduction: 123dMake and Laser Cutting With Benbox

In this instructable I will be using a banggood 2.5W laser engraver (Eleks Maker) to make a 3d model from Autodesk´s 123dMake using BenBox as gcode generator and controller. It needs some conversions for the files to be usable by the apps. I´ll cover that process.

Software used (in order of appearance):


AutoCad 360 (online dxf viewer)

InkScape (edit dxf)

BenBox (laser engraving / cutting)

Step 1: 123dMake Create Your Object

1.- 123dMake is a free software from Autodesk so once downloaded, and installed you can import any stl object created by SketchUp (for example), you can choose from the Autodesk´s online library or from the example objects inside the program.

2.- The next thing is to setup your cutting surface depending on the size of your machine (mine is A5).

It is very important to use the right thickness for the material you´ll be using (mine is cardboard 3mm).

3.- Using the interface to adapt the size of the real object to your necessities (1 in the picture)

Then choose the manufacturing scheme (I used radial slices for this , 2 in the picture)

After that customize the settings for the scheme used (try changing parameters and see the results in the live preview, 3 in the picture)

When everything is ok, choose Get Plans (4 in the picture).

Then in the lower part of the screen you see the format, change to dxf and it will create a zip file with all the sheets.

Step 2: Importing / Exporting

  • 123dMake will export a dxf file that could be directly printed by a laser engraver, but this software creates the outline of the object (in blue) and the identifications for each piece necessary for the assembling (in red). It creates also a edge around all the object that we don´t want in our result. Let´s edit this
  • The first idea is using Inkscape, but unfortunately there is a problem with the dxf format exported by 123dMake, so inkscape does not open it.
  • We will go to AutoCad 360, (create a free account and access to the main page to upload your dxf files)

You can use any other cad software that accepts dxf format and saves it in Autocad dxf 2013 format so you can edit the file in inkscape later.

  • When you click on download (inside Autocad360) it gives you the option about the format. Choose 2013 version and save it to your local drive

Step 3: Editing the Dxf for Laser

  • Open inskscape, click on File -> Properties and check that your setup matches your system (in my case mm, and with the printable area of my laser machine)
  • Import the DXF file (using import, not open)
  • adjust the dxf to your paper size
  • UNGROUP the dxf. When you import the file, you´ll find that everything is together so you can not erase the border of the page. So you have to right click on your image and select : "UNGROUP " (fig1)
  • Click on the outside border. And delete it.
  • Save the design in DXF format as xxx-complete.dxf (xxx=your favourite name)
  • Click on the red letters (assembly instructions) and delete all. Save as: xxx-empty.dxf (fig2)

Step 4: LASER IT!

Now we have 2 files per each sheet that 123dMake generated. One is complete the other one is only the outline of the object (cut border)

  • Open Benbox and configure it like fig 1
  • Load the xxx-complete.dxf. Don´t move the figure in the spacework, then laser it with your favourite setting, (you doný want to cut with this first pass. You will have the outline and the letters
  • Delete the design and load the xxx-empty.dxf. DON´T move the model once is loaded in workspace.
  • Make a 2nd pass with lower speed (fig2).
  • If needed make more passes until you get it cutted (fig3)

Step 5: MAKE IT!

Assemble all the parts following the building instructions as given in 123dMake.

If you used accurate width measurements, the pieces will fit perfectly and that´s it. If not maybe you need a little bit of glue.

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    We just made a Pikachu out of quarter inch wood using this method. Your video was very helpful.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Great! Glad to hear that.
    Share your project so we can see how it worked out


    3 years ago

    You could scale this up and make an awesome shelf for a kid's room! :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    of course, it´s only a matter of laser cutter size... mine is a small A5.
    But you can always print in an A3 paper, transfer it to plywood and spend a great maker weekend creating a giant shelf