Laser Project Considerations

Here is another great story from one of our supporting sponsors, CNCKing.com on what they consider when designing and building 3D objects using laser cutter machines, such as the ones from our Premium Sponsor Trotec Laser. The team at Engravers Register can’t wait to see their latest project – building a replica Eiffel Tower!

Laser Project Considerations by CNCKing.com

I’ve been designing for laser cutters for more than four years now and working on my 4th published book on the subject but regardless of the who/what/where of the design, the project considerations are always the same.

Budget

You have to decide almost from the beginning what kind of “laser cutting budget” you’ll allocate to the project at hand. Why so early in the process? Because material, cutting and assembly costs go up exponentially as the scale of the model and piece count go North. For instance, the Eiffel Tower design I’m working on now has only 35 pieces so far but will hover near 50 when finished and I gave myself an unlimited cutting budget for it, the original Eiffel Tower wasn’t cheap and nor will this one be standing at a meter high when finished. There isn’t any way to cut corners on a project like this, all the lattice work can’t be ignored so if you are going to go over budget, this is the model you want to do it on!

CNC projectPiece Count

After you’ve given yourself a rough cutting budget, the next consideration is piece count. If the model is for a child, you don’t want something over 20-30 pieces but if it’s for a model master, more than 200 is fine. What I’ve found with time though is that sales and piece count are inversely proportional, meaning the more pieces your model has, the less sales it generates.

For instance, this Zulu Main Battle Tank below looks like fun to build but I wouldn’t expect a 10 year old kid to put it together – I’ve had 40 year old kids give it a go and they soon realized it was over their head! The problem isn’t the assembly process itself, it’s the tools and time required to glue, clamp and build the model up. It must be spread across a few days to allow the glue to dry and some minor refinements as the material is rarely the correct thickness. As mentioned previously, 6mm wood is rarely 6mm, usually it’s 6.4 or even more out of whack.

Material Choice

The material you intend to build your model with is critical! Why so important? Well, you want your model to be structurally sound. I would never give a kid a toy laser cut out of MDF, it simply won’t last and it’s a nasty material to work with nor would I try to build this plasma cut Dragon Fly using plywood. Some of these things sound like common sense but are too often overlooked! The general rule I use is that if a material is “strong” like plywood, it needs less supports than something “soft” like foam.

Take Away

It may seem like there is a lot to consider when building a CNC project, from material, machine type and budget to piece count, intended customer and their skill level. Don’t let this get in the way of the fun though! Even if you fail, the lessons you’ve learned can be applied to the next model!

Thanks to CNCKing.com for the above information… your experience in designing and building 3D objects is great for our registered businesses!