Computer-Controlled Cutting

Week 03

12th-19th February 2014

This week's assignment was to manufacture something on two 2D-cutting machines. Plotter and Laser cutter. Having some prior experience with the laser cutter, I decided to focus on the plotter this time. In an urge to streamline my deisgn/manufacturing workflow I decided that it would be a good idea to connect the plotter directly to my laptop and work from there. Little did I know that I would spend 10+ hours on this task and end up splitting the workflow between 3 different OS's. Eventually I got the plotter running through FabModules installed in Ubuntu virtual machine.

In the end my workflow looked like this: Rhino+Grasshopper (WinXP) > .ai file > Adobe Illustrator (OSX) > .svg file > FabModules (Ubuntu) > THING.

One of the main problems that persisted which I didn't manage to solve at the moment properly was dimensions scaling. Files got scaled somewhere in the toolchain and results didn't always fit as intended. Apparently the issue was with imperial/metric measurements getting messed up. Further more careful work with laser cutter, 3D printers and shopbot went smooth and the problem did not manifest itself again.

One thing I wanted to make was a sticker with a famous motive.


Grasshopper-generated result looked very promising, but somehow the plotter didn't appreciate the joke and refused to produce it. The file was too large for the machine's buffer and I felt that I could make better use of my time learning more grasshopper rather than fighting this hardware limitation.

With the deadline approaching some choices had to be made and I decided that designing a parametric construction kit would be much more productive.

It took a while until everything got parameterized nicely and the details worked out, but the result was worth the time. Modules are completely parameterized and can be adjusted easily with a couple of sliders.

Files for this week:

  • iPad mini back sticker
  • Jimi Hendrix in bubbles
  • Grasshopper patch for the modular kit