Beehive Lantern

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A quick and easy lampshade or lantern that creates a cosy ambience at home. The layered beehive-like design diffuses light softly and creates patterns on wall. Use a laser cutter and make it out of your desired sheet material!

Software used:

1. Autodesk Fusion 360: for initial 3D modelling. You may use your preferred 3D software but the useful thing about Fusion is the Slicer plug-in.

2. Slicer for Fusion 360: automatically slices your 3D model and creates cut-out plans that can be exported.

3. Adobe Illustrator: vector file format that most laser cutters work with.

Materials:

Any sheet material that can be laser cut. I used a 2.7 mm thick single wall corrugated cardboard. But it could be plywood or sheet acrylic. I would suggest thinner material over a thicker one though.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Download the Files

Here are the original files I used to make this lantern.

F3D file is the Fusion 360 model, but I also uploaded it in IGES format that can be opened in another software like Rhino.

The AI file is the one I sent to laser cutter.

Step 2: Make Changes to 3D Model (optional)

You may wish to modify the 3D model, e.g. change the geometry, shape, scale up or down. Up to you!

Step 3: Make Changes to Slice Arrangement (optional)

You may want to play around in the Slicer software, it's quite fun!

If you're working on Fusion 360, go to MAKE > Slicer for Fusion 360. This opens your 3D model in the Slicer software.

On your left you have Manufacturing Settings. Update these according to your material specs: the length, width and thickness of your sheet. Getting the thickness right is key here as otherwise your parts won't assemble! For example, my cardboard was 2.7 mm thick but I set my thickness as 2.85 mm in the program because I already had experience that 2.7 will be too tight and difficult to assemble.

Object size: you may want to tick 'original size' or scale up or down your object.

Construction Technique drop-down menu is where the fun begins. Experiment with different techniques and slice distributions. On your right a Cut Layout panel will update itself. You can keep an eye on the amount of sheets and parts that are needed for construction.

Step 4: Get Cut-out Plans

Once you've happily sliced your object, click on Get Plans at the bottom left. This creates an overview of all your parts neatly arranged on a sheet of specified dimensions. Choose a preferred file type and click Export to My Computer. I exported as PDF and it worked fine.

Step 5: Prepare Vector File

Open your exported file in Illustrator. Make sure all the lines are vectors. Follow your laser cutter operator's guidelines, e.g. change the weight or colour of lines to specific values. For example, the numbers you see on parts are essentially assembly instructions. These should not be cut out but instead "kiss cut". Consult with the operator. Save as AI file.

Step 6: Laser Cut Your Parts

Sit back and let the machine do the work :)

Step 7: Assemble

Slicer software has a useful feature called Assembly Steps. It's an animation showing the most efficient step-by-step assembly of your object.

As mentioned, each part is coded informing its position relative to XYZ axis. Numbers go from bottom to top in case of Z-axis parts. In this object, Y-axis parts assemble radially. It's quite an intuitive system.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Lantern!

Use it to cover any light source that lies around bare and abandoned.

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