Modelling structures for laser cutting

Hello,

I have access to a lasercutter and I have some structures I want to model in software, for later cutting.

Lasercutters cut 2D planes of different thickness and they might be attached using interleaving “fingers”.

But put together, these form 3D structures which I would like to model in Blender.

What is the recommend workflow for doing this kind of work ?

I know there are software, which given any 3D object can slice it up into planes which can be glued together. This is not what I want to do. I want to make each 2D part and place it correctly piece by piece in a 3D structure.

I Imagine I could create planes which are put in their position in 3D and then have all the planes moved to 2D common plane, on a keyframe.
That way I can move around the planes and see how they fit. I might even make the animation where they moved from the common plane and into 3D position - to make sure it can actually be assembled.

But the fingers I know is problematic. They need to be very tight fit and depends on material thickness. It would be nice if there was a plugin to make these, supporting some trial and error workflow.

Do anyone have some good tips and ideas ?

Thanks.

I Imagine I could create planes which are put in their position in 3D and then have all the planes moved to 2D common plane, on a keyframe.

You want an unfolding tool. This add-on for Blender apparently does that (I’ve never used it.)
http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts/Import-Export/Paper_Model

There’s a similar tool for Sketchup called Flattery.

What kind of file does your laser cutter require? I’m not certain, but it may just need an outline of the model rather than a solid 3D model.

Steve S

Very interesting - I will look into the unfolding tool!

The lasercutter takes PDF’s (and maybe other CAD type files) and yes it needs the outlines only. I figured that would be a print of orthogonal view after the models has been unfolded.

However Im not sure I will just model solid objects. I would make solid planes (modelled as the same thickness as the real material to be cut) and attach these at different angles and shapes, to make a assembled 3D object in Blender. This would be the real modelling process.