#121 | arc23 – Steps for a lasercut process

Hi guys,

I am quite happy that our personal blog have a wide range of subjects. Bach with his computer/pentester/hacker knowledge and for me, with architectural/design stuff. Recently I was thinking about what will be the future of this blog. I mean, it is quite difficult to know exactly what we are doing right now. Maybe everything we are writing right now is useless even if it gives me a reason to not give up every morning. I have a lot of doubt right know on what am I doing too. Am I doing right? What do I want to prove? What do I exactly want? What is the meaning of all of this? I really don’t know. But I am happy because I am not alone in this process…


Lately, with the #115 | arc22 – Mola@Nasa map I was been able to experiment with some map extracting to make a laser-cut. It is not perfect since I’m working on the thing only five days ago, however, I’ve managed to finish the model in Medium-Density Fiberwood. There are some steps to be able to make a good laser-cut without problems, so let’s stick to something simple, to begin with.

  1. Make your CAD file.
    In this part, you need to draw your blueprints. Remember to make polylines to don’t create an issue in your laser-cut file. In my case, I needed to convert the parametric file to a CAD file. The first thing was to take the top view and create a blueprint that could be modified later on illustrator. In fact, the best thing to do would be to use the rhinoceros file and convert it on .dwg to clean the lines first.
  2. Clean the layer.
    If you want to laser-cut, you need to clean the layer first by joining the lines into polylines and changing the color. Each color of lines is used for a different work depending on your laser-cut functions. In the case of the Trotec, it works with the software JobControl: red is meant for the cut, blue for the deep engraving, cyan for medium-engraving, green for light engraving, plum for the first cut, etc. Remember to not overdraw a polyline too (the laser-cut will cut twice on it and can burn the material).
  3. Working the file on illustrator.
    This part of the job is a bit of a hassle. The CAD file will be converted to Illustrator that way, the file will be cleaned and the true colors can be exported to JobControl. You need to be careful to use 0.001 pt for all your drawing since it is the size of the laser.
  4. JobControl.
    It is the software using to cut your material. Depending on the material you choose, the cut will be different. For example in my case, the Medium-Density Fiberwood 3mm is better used with a 60W laser-cut rather than a 30W laser-cut to gain some speed with maximum power (I needed to cut the polylines, so it is better for me to use a powerful machine). JobControl is used to configure the parameters for the cut, you can also monitor the entire process from the screen.
  5. Laser-cut.
    The laser-cut machine needed to be configured before any use. The laser needed to be optimized with a measurement tool that you put near the laser. You can change the distance between the tray to the laser by modifying the height. Once the distance is optimized, and your material well placed, you need to close the protection screen and press the “on” button. When the work is done, you need to clean the machine.
  6. Make your model.
    When it is done, some tape will be needed to put everything in place. You will also need some glue to put everything in place.

What did I learn?

  • Use JobControl.
  • How to convert a Rhinoceros/illustrator file to a laser-cut layer.
  • How to configure and optimize a laser-cut.
  • The difference between woods and what type of configuration you need.

Thanks for the reading! Like always I will surely post the pictures once I’ll have some time and a good camera.

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