Laser Cut Cardboard Jupiter 2 Model




Introduction: Laser Cut Cardboard Jupiter 2 Model

Lost in Space is one of my favorite retro science fiction TV shows.  I've always wanted a model of the Jupiter 2 space ship from the show.  I thought it would be interesting to see if I could use Autodesk 123D and 123D Make to construct a model of the Jupiter 2 made from corrugated cardboard.  The Jupiter 2 model turned out really well.  Photos of the finished model from various angles can be seen above.

I made this at TechShop.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools Required

To construct a model of the Jupiter 2 you will need to download and install 123D on your computer and you'll need the following materials:
  • Four 18" square sheets of corrugated cardboard.  You can cut up corrugated cardboard boxes or you can order pre-cut sheets at office supply stores like Staples.
  • White Glue.
  • A piece of thin but stiff wire.
  • A small diameter screw at least 1/4" long.
You will also need access to a laser cutter to cut the Jupiter 2 layers out of the cardboard. I used an Epilog Helix laser cutter.

Step 2: Use 123D to Create the Jupiter 2 Model

The first step to making a corrugated cardboard model of the Jupiter 2 is to create a 3D model of the Jupiter 2 in 123D.  I started by finding a photo of the Jupiter 2 (second image) and measuring the sides and angles. I then made a 2D outline of the shape of Jupiter 2 (first screenshot).  Using the "revolve" tool in 123D, the 2D outline was converted to a 3D solid model (third screenshot).  Various views of the resulting model are shown in the fourth to eighth screenshots.

Step 3: Add a Center Hole to the Model

In order to ease the assembly of the cardboard layers, I added a hole through the center of the model as shown in the screenshots above. The hole will be used to align the layers and ensure that all the pieces are properly centered.  After the Jupiter 2 is assembled, you can use the hole for mounting or hanging the model. The 123D model file for the Jupiter 2 is attached.

Step 4: Export the Jupiter 2 Model in STL Format

Using the "Save As..." function in 123D, I created a STL file that will be used with 123D Make to create the cardboard slices.  The resulting STL file is attached.

Step 5: Create the Cardboard Slices

The next step is to bring up 123D Make in a web browser and upload the STL model file created in the previous step.  Once loaded, 123D Make will slice the model.  When the model was loaded, the slices were not in the direction I wanted: I had to change the axis for the slides so they would not be sideways (second to fourth screenshots) but horizontal (fifth screenshot).  Various views of the sliced model are shown in the sixth through eighth screenshots.

Step 6: Generate the Files for the Laser Cutter

In this step, the "Do It Yourself" button is used to generate .eps files that are used with a Laser cutter to cut out each of the slices.  The files 123D Make creates optimally lays out the slices to minimize the amount of cardboard required and numbers the slices so you know what order to layer the slices during assembly.  The first four screenshots show the process for creating the files and the last four screenshots show what the files look like.  I imported the files into CorelDraw and modified them so the numbers are thick lines and would be engraved by the laser; the outlines and circles for the holes modified to have hairline thickness so the laser would cut them out.  The .eps and CorelDraw files are attached to this step.

Step 7: Cut Out and Assemble the Jupiter 2

To construct the Jupiter 2:
  1. The CorelDraw files and a laser cutter were used to cut out and engrave the the parts.  I used a 45 Watt Epilog Helix laser cutter at TechShop with the following settings:
  • Raster (engraving): Speed 65, Power 20, 300 Dots Per Inch (DPI)
  • Vector (cutting): Speed 25, Power 40, Frequency 500 Hertz
  1. Next, I separated the slices in groups of four slices, used a small screw to align the pieces when glued together as shown the in the first four photos. I then let the glue set (about 5 minutes).
  2. I then clamped a thin but stiff wire in a vise and used that to align all the pieces as groups of slices were glued together.  The fifth through eighth photos show this process.
Voila!  The model is finished and shown hanging against a background of stars in the last photo.
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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 7

    ... Then cut out the bottom of the flying saucer lamp for light to emit in a colum for the "beaming up" of stuff. Then get really kitchy and put a figurine of a person or animal (i.e. farmer, cow, etc...) in the beam.


    4 years ago on Step 7

    Neat! You could even cut out the centers of the plates and use a small LED "bulb" to make a cool lamp.


    7 years ago on Step 7

    Cool project. How about casting one in pure silver? Maybe make small ones as charms!