Posts Tagged ‘laser cutting’

Scope of the Assignment:
Assignment II is an assignment in which we were to make items of our choosing using the basics gained 
up to that point in time, these being the laser cutting process as well as the basics of press-fit.

The process of 3D printing is fast gaining popularity especially with regards to prototyping where it has become a must have component if one is to make a prototype. Having a prototype printed out is essential to the process of design since it helps to actually feel and see the item being prototyped. In anticipation of various items to be used in the "City Project" field, I chose to focus prototyping on components related to the "City Project"

Duration of 3D printing Process.
Depending on the complexity of the item being printed, the process can either take just a few minutes, to several hours.
Iterations 1 - 3 of Palm bracelet along with knuckle ring component

Model of Component – Palm Bracelet

The modeling of the above captioned palm bracelet was subsequently instrumental in determining the ridiculousness of our initial assumption both in terms of utilitarian inconveniences as well as ease of use, not to mention the fact that it just failed to serve its purpose. Subsequent modifications forced the team to think more organically. This hands on approach enabled the team to acknowledge and understand the scope and limitations of the technology in use. Depending on the task at hand, I was able to optimize and subsequently better choose the means with which to make each respective prototype component.
This outside the box approach to the prototype (heck, the box was thrown out entirely) was one of the issues in that it presented a steep learning curve to me personally. 
The optimization of the design is enhanced by the fact that the item becomes tangible and it can be tested (if printed to scale). This is one of the few shortfalls of the virtual environment and simulations in CAD software as a whole. 
The printing process is also limited by the dimensions of the printer used. For instance, the Ultimaker 2 Go has a build volume of 120mm x 120 mm x 115mm. 

Materials Used:
Printing was done on Ultimaker 2 Go, using PLA (Polylactic Acid) which as it turns out, is one of the more commonly used 3D printing materials. The model was saved in STL format and was prepped for printing using Ultimaker Cura.

Ultimaker 2 Go

Lessons Learnt:
The prototyping process is made much easier with the use of 3D printers.
The choice of materials (of the prototype) should be taken into consideration during the printing process.
The use of a resin laser 3d printers is a more accurate method of 3D printing.


Assignment Parameters:
The assignment was to construct a tower using press fit laser cut modular pieces with a dimensional 
limit of 150mm on the length. 

Modular patterns were restricted to 3 patterns or modular units.
Laser Cut plywood

Modular Units for Tower Structure

Pre-Design - Conceptual approach:
The concept was based on attainment of the maximum height without compromising the structural 
integrity of the tower frame. with these two parameters as the basis, it was evident that 
additional stability could be attained by the use of a cross-pattern of "beam" structures. 
Horizontal elements were left out. 

Iterations and Re-Design:
In line with the initial concept of simplicity, there were few iterations between the initial 
design and the final version.

Assembly of Tower

Fully Assembled Tower

The initial design had stability issues due to the initial proposal of framing the beams using 
continuous interlocking. This made the initial design heavy. Whereas the interlocking pattern 
was maintained for the base in order to keep the structure stable, the interlocks were discarded 
at the subsequent upper levels, making the structure lighter and allowing for attainment of 
increase height.

Cutting & Assembly:
Cutting out of the modular units was done using a laser cutting machine.
The cutting process took about 45 min.

The Team

Whereas the final product was a product of active team work on the part of all team members, 
the cutting work was conducted under the guidance of the course supervisor Ivan Mitrofanov 
since at the time non of the team members could conduct the cutting works independently.
Class              : Technology / Computer Controlled Cutting

Software      :  Autodesk AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, LaserWork

Materials     :  Plywood of thickness 0.30 mm

Challenges  : 
  • Operating the Laser Cutting Machine
  • Aligning CAD drawing in LaserWork
  • Detailing and spacing of Kerf-Bending
  • Re-scaling of components keeping an offset for the laser cutter to burn away

Work Process:

It is really fascinating to be  able to practically fabricate our thoughts with the technology provided at our hand. I was really amazed when our Instructor Ivan Mitrofanov introduced us with various techniques for cutting plywood with the Laser Cutting machine and “Kerf-Bending” was a technique which actually amazed me. There were many initial thoughts on what I could experiment with this new knowledge but then I  decided to use the principles of “Interlocking” and “Kerf-Bending” to prototype  this Collapsible Cylinder. I have used very simple components for this project and it consists of  just “two” kinds of details which was cut  by the Laser Cutting machine. You can find these details below:

  • Interlockings:

In this picture you can see the detail (first two pieces) which is meant to interlock together (third piece) and act as movable joints. I had to Laser Cut this detail several times as I could not anticipate how much offset I should keep for the Laser to burn off.

  • Vertical Elements :

Here you can see the Vertical Elements along with the Kerf-Pattern and bolted together with the Interlocking details. I had had a similar problem with this detail too due to the laser’s burning offset which made the Kerf very  brittle and breaking it instead of bending.

This image shows how the combination of both the detail works when they are laid out on a plain surface, and the ends were later interconnected.

Final Outcome:

This combination of these techniques worked and thanks to the Kerf Pattern I was able to fold it into a compact form. Although it was very stiff in the beginning, it started loosening up at the interlockings and had to be glued.


Here you can find the link of the DWG file which I have used for making this pattern. (DWG version attached – AutoCAD 2010)

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