Introduction: Folding Paper With a Laser Cutter
First it helps to already have a background in folding paper or understanding crease patterns.
If you have that background it still takes some time to figure out how your folds will work in a 3d space when your making it in a 2d vector program. I used a radial pattern when making my designed in order to create bowl and cup shape. You can use what ever pattern your heart desires.
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Step 1: The Laser Cutter
After you make your 2d pattern you can take it to the laser cutter. Each laser cutters different and will have different speeds and powers that you will need to adjust.
I would advise asking the technician on staff to help you figure out the program they use and to understand the laser cutter more.
There are some things I can tell you, you will need to adjust.
You can also play with the ppi and change a line cut to a dotted cut. this might work better for some papers.
Make sure your etch isn't too high and cutting too far into your paper. It could make your paper rip while folding if you etch too deep.
Step 2: Folding Your Model
Ok so you have cut your paper and are able to fold it with ease. This is the hardest step of the process. If your design does not work like you had hoped you have to go back and start over from the 2d design process.
If your design worked, good. You are now a pro and have an idea of how to make more models using this method.
Step 3: Extra Fun. Making Castable Mold From Your Model
So this is where you have to experiment with process a little, depending on your shape. The shapes that I made had a structure to them and easily supported some weight.
Adding some structural support under the middle will give good weight displacement and help your piece from collapsing.
ok so add structural support to your paper and mix plaster. It helps to make your plaster extra thick and let it get to an almost set state. quickly grab the plaster and spread it on to your paper with your hands or some tool.
Step 4: After Your Molding
After you take your mold you will end up with a plaster negative with paper pretty much attached to the plaster.
If you keep your paper wet you can simply rub it off with your finger as to not hurt the delicate lines in your mold.