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3. Computer controlled cutting

Individual assignment

  • Cut something on the vinyl cutter
  • Design, lasercut, and document a parametric construction kit, accounting for hte lasercutter kerf, which can be assembled in multiple ways, and for extra credit include elements that aren’t flat

Vinyl sticker


I love traveling around the world. I have been to almost 20 countries which is more than the amount of years I have been alive. Because of this, I decided to design a world map sticker with 2 different colors. I will have the bottom layer be a solid rectangle of green for all the land and the top layer be blue for the water. I decided I was going to cut the silhouettes of the continents and remove all the pieces of land from the blue sheet. This is the image I used for my original silhouette

Designing in Silhouette Studio

The firs thing I have to do is import the image I want to use

Once this is done, I have to trace this image to make lines that the machine can recognize.

When this is done, there will be the trace but also the original image. I simply have to move the original image to the side and delete it to leave only the trace

This new trace of the image is more than 10 inches wide, which is way too big for this assignment, so I have to select the trace and decrease the scale. I choose to reduce to 50% of the original dimensions

Once everything is selected, I have to delete some parts I did not want. This was primarily the text in the top left corner that said “The World” and the text in the bottom right corner.

The final thing I had to do was make a rectangle that would be the bottom layer of the sticker. I simply did this by finding the dimensions of the layer with all the continent outlines and making a rectangle of the same size.

Since I love traveling, I decided to make a 2-layer sticker with one color (blue) representing bodies of water such as oceans, seas, or even big lakes and another color (green) representing land. The weeding process was very easy, it was just tedious to weed some of the smaller islands that were important like Japan or England or some of the bigger islands in the Caribbean. I used Inkscape to design the file and then sent it over to Silhouette Studio to send to the cutter.

Parametric design

Our lab has multiple laser cutters, but the one I used for this part of the week’s assignment was the Epilog Fusion Pro 48 laser cutter. I had used all of the other laser cutters, but this one was new to me since our lab bought it over the summer and because of COVID-19, I had not had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the machine. This machine was a bit different from the others since we used Epilog’s own software to adjust settings such as frequency and speed instead of uploading our designs through CorelDraw. This was actually very helpful since the new software had a database of recommended settings for a myriad of materials including cardboard, acrylic, and wood. A very useful thing on this new cutter is the camera. When the cover is closed, you can easily move your design around (in the software) to avoid any previously used areas. The workflow for this machine can be viewed at this week’s group assignment link below.

These images depict the process I underwent when completing this assignment. I included photos of the CAD files as well as important steps of actually cutting and assembling the pieces. One problem I faced is that my design involved going over some of the same lines multiple times (especially on the tabs) so I had some issues with the cardboard starting to burn at some of these points. I resolved this by implementing color mapping by selecting the rectangular cutouts for the tabs and decreasing the frequency the laser hits the cardboard. This is definitely something I should keep in mind when there are many intersecting lines.

Below are images showing how I was able to use parameters to change the dimensions of certain features on the hexagon shape, such as the lengths or widths of each tab. For each pair of pictures, I changed one of the three parameters to show the difference. The first was the original design, the second was changing the side lengths of the hexagon, the third was the width of the tab, and the fourth was the length of the tab.


Side lengths of the hexagon:

Width of the tab:

Length of the tab:

Group assignment

  • Characterize your laser cutter’s focus, power, speed, rate, kerf, joint clearance, and types

I worked with Graham Smith on the focus tests for the ⅛ inch cardboard and ⅛ inch plywood. We ran multiple tests including being too far from the material, too close, and the correct distance. We found that when the machine was not perfectly focused, it would no longer have the “hairline accuracy for which laser cutters are known. More details about the group assignment can be viewed at this link.


Sticker file

Parametric file