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4. Computer controlled cutting

This Week I approached to computer controlled cutting using machines with two cutting axes as the Epilog Helix laser cutter and the Roland GX-24 vynil cutter.

Vinyl cutting

Vinyl cutter machine work through the movement of a sharp blade over the surface of the material; this blade is used to cut out shapes from sheets of thin self-adhesive plastic (vinyl) moving on an axis. The vinyl can then be stuck to a variety of surfaces depending on the adhesive and type of material.

I learnt that to cut out a design a vector image must be created in a software program, usually Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. Then I imported my project in Cat Studio to send it to the cutter machine and set the machine properly and the height of the blade, manually.

2D Design

I drew lines and circle shapes, and I used “create shape” and “join paths” commands to design my vinyl cutter project.


Importing in CatStudio

1st I installed all the drivers the machine need and connected CatStudio to it. 2nd I defined the origin of my cutting point and scaled my project.


Roland GX-24

1st I sent the files to the machine. 2nd I checked the settings on the command panel of the machine, as the measure of the sheets and cutting speed. I discovered that a lower cut it’s more accurate; I learnt that lower cuts are more accurate.


Removing adhesive

Then with accuracy I removed my project from the sheet, and learnt how to stick it on other surfaces using adherent and transparent sheets.



Laser cutting

Laser cutter machines work through computer numerical control and lens directing the output of high power lasers composed by CO2 and diode energy.

To learn laser cutting properly, I had to design parametric models, used laser cutting driver and laser cutter panel commands. I had to make more tests with cardboard.

Parametric design

Taking part to the weekly lectures and to the lab, I knew I had to design curves and shapes connecting them using parametric software due to the critical cutting measures and so to make fast changes that sometimes cutting projects need, without changing the whole project each time.

1st I used Rhinoceros, and with its parametric plug-in Grasshopper I started setting points using the command ‘’slider number” and connecting them to draw arch, lines and curves; 2nd I had to use “join” and then “boundary surface”, “extrusion” and “loft” to realize first planar and not planar surfaces. 3d Finally I learnt also to modify them using “add solid” or “solid difference” 4th and to connect the whole project and to manage it also in Rhinoceros view using “bake” command.

I designed my press-fit construction kit and an assembling bird and perch.



Visicut setting

1st From Rhinoceros I set a single view to see my cutting curves of the projects; 2nd I selected and exported them in .DXF file. 1st I Imported it in Visicut 2nd and I set “cut everything” to show my cutting shapes, cutting origin point, margins and started. I also set the cutting parameter nearest, to optimize the time of cutting. 3rd Then I set in the window “laser settings” respective values of power, speed, frequencies, in order to the cutting material’s thickness 4th and sent the files to the machine.



Epilog Helix 24” 45W

1st To cut with accuracy I also had to consider the the size of a cardboard kerf with a thick of 6mm, that is the extra measure of the laser cutter, measured in group doing tests cutting 6 piece for a total length of 100 mm.

Cutting this material with suggested parameters as 40% of power 40%, 30% of speed and 500Hz frequency the resulting kerf is 0.217 mm.


2nd Then I started enabled the pointer of the machine and manually I managed the origin points; I could visualize also current projects. 3rd and working safely I started cutting, covering the cutting plane and also using the connected compressor and aspirator to extinguish and filter fumes.


For my press-fit kit I had to make changes to measures and add fillets too, and I learnt that Increasing the laser power and frequencies and reducing the speed the cut work better, and without risking to make cardboard burning.





Artwork eye


Press-fit construction kit


Assembling bird and prench