Laser Model Making Basics Tutorial Guide: modeling tips & tricks for Designers and Architects

Laser Model Making Basics Tutorial Guide: modeling tips & tricks for Designers and Architects


apparently a long time ago in a galaxy
far far away they actually used to have laser swords no really they did we
forgot how to make them kind of like losing the formula to Roman mortar to
the Dark Ages My name is Eric Strebel I’m an industrial designer welcome to my
channel about product design and making I hope that you like and joy and become
a subscriber it wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th century that we
even began to comprehend lasers again as a matter of fact Albert Einstein
proposed his theory of stimulated emissions he suggested and theorized
that electrons could be stimulated to emit light at a particular wavelength it
was until 1964 at Bell Laboratories when the first co2 laser was built and that
is when laser model-making was born if you have access to a laser
like this either through your educational institution local library
makerspace or you’re thinking about buying a laser like this and you’re
willing to learn how to create vector files and the software that can control
a laser like this your model making will increase dramatically
I guarantee it let’s take a look at some laser
model-making basics with this co2 50 watt laser did you know that PCB way has
quite the open source section on its website check out for example this cool
Nixie clock it comes complete with the schematics and the Gerber files that you
can modify so you can build it PCB way can help you with the PCB and PCB
assembly and even PCB design check out the link below for more info I think a
good cutting mat 24 by 36 like this hour teza one here is a great place to start
from model making along with some exacto blades lots of those a good exacto
handle perhaps some tape and then the different types of glues or adhesives
that you’re gonna need depending upon what type of model making you’re
actually doing that’s a great place to start so the first thing that we’re
gonna make is an acrylic 2-inch cube the reason for this is that lasers are
fantastic at cutting acrylic when it cuts the acrylic it leaves virtually no
mark and a very very clean cut I’m using an online resource called maker case it
allows you to enter the size of the cube that you want the material thickness in
this case our sixteenth inch which we measured with a caliper to double-check
you can then output this file as a DXF file and pull it into your laser cutting
software the software I’m using is called light burn instead of light burn
you can set the power that the laser fires at and the speed at which the head
moves nothing else is required no line weight adjustment etc etc it hit start
it sends the file to my laser cutter and it cuts out the parts done pretty simple
granted there’s a few more details but in general that’s what’s required to cut
something out on a laser at least in my situation
you’ll notice we left the paper backing on the acrylic and you want to do that
so that if there is any residue left over from the actual cut it will stick
to the paper and not to the material that you’re actually cutting so let’s
line up the parts we use a little bit of piece of tape to get things exactly
where we want so that when we apply our adhesive in this case we are using
acrylic solvent and solvent in this case means it actually melts the plastic so
it’s not so much a glue as its softening up the existing acrylic and allowing the
two sheets to bond together because they’ve been softened up at a molecular
level so that they adhere to each other I don’t make a lot of models with
acrylic although I do make a lot more now that I have this laser just because
the material is so easy to manipulate and I don’t have to cut it by hand and
send it to the right size on the sander that stuff is all taken care of when you
cut the parts out on a laser we do want to get this box straight and square
we’re gonna use a right angle tool here a square to make sure that it’s all nice
and straight the square by the way is made by a Japanese company called
Xinhua I get lots of questions about it so we’re gonna use a thicker adhesive
right here it’s a cement and that’s just a thicker formula of the liquid stuff
that I have in the can that I put on with a brush and we put the top on here
and I basically use that to show you that there are different types of
solvents check out that rookie mistake I glued the side with the paper to the box
yeah you don’t want to do that definitely pretty amateur move right
there all right let’s reapply our glue and
glue it on the correct side so the adhesive can actually melt the plastic
together we can make ourselves a good box flip
the box over and we’ll apply some adhesive to the other side you want to
make sure that you have some good wet edges so that the solvent is able to
soften up the plastic and actually bond the two pieces together I’m gonna pop a
clamp on here and just let that evaporate maybe for a good 10 15 20
minutes and we got ourselves a very nice shiny square acrylic cube one of the other materials that the
laser cuts pretty well is wood and I’m gonna make a 2 inch cube out of some
basswood this is different than balsa wood so bass wood is not as porous as
balsa much better suited for model making we’re gonna use the same online
resource the maker case website but in the same exterior dimensions and we’ll
just change the thickness of the material here and that will give us an
hour file and we’ll pull that into our labor and software and then we’ll cut
that out on the laser you’ll see there’s a little bit more smoke from the wood
here as it kind of burns through the wood now I did not put any tape down and
that was a little bit of a mistake here you want to put some tape down I’m using
some blue painters tape and I’m showing this as an example here so any residue
from cutting or smoke will get stuck to the tape and not to the wood and a lot
of times people use what’s called a transfer tape it’s what the sign
painters use when they use transfer vinyl lettering onto a vehicle if you do
get some of this residue from the burn on your wood you can use a little bit of
denatured alcohol to clean off this residue and
clean up your parts but better to use some tape or something to prevent that
soot from gathering on your wood in the first place
we’re gonna put the box together just like we did the acrylic one with some
painters tape and lay that all out we’re gonna use superglue cyanoacrylate to
glue this together and the reason for this is it’s not that we couldn’t use
like a wood glue or a carpenters glue the sign of acrylate dries much much
quicker and when you’re building models you don’t want to wait too long for your
glue to dry I’m using what’s called a kicker or an accelerant to accelerate
the cyanoacrylate and cause it to get hard faster
this accelerant causes the sign alacra laid with a super glue to gel up almost
instantly if you do have a gap where you feel you don’t got a good connection you
can lay in a little bead of super glue here and then come back and you can hit
it with some of that accelerant kind of like you’re if you are caulking a corner
this will give you some additional strength so let’s put the ends of the
box on and I spray a little accelerant onto the wood first and pretty much as
soon as that comes in contact with the glue that I’ve laid down on the edges it
will cure again we’ll do the same thing on the other side you don’t need a lot
this causes the superglue to basically set up instantly and we have ourselves a
very nice two inch wooden cube let’s make a
cardboard or a chipboard cube I have several other videos on this already
cardboard basics cardboard advanced basics basically I’m measuring out the
thickness of my cardboard or my chipboard and I’m putting some tape on
top of it notice how I stick it on my jacket first to make the tape not
so aggressive now this is important with a chip board because the chip board is
pretty cheap and you want to have not a lot of adhesion on that chip board I’m
gonna use the same online resource the maker case website and just adjust for
the thickness of the material that we’re using and lay out our box we put it all
together now I’m gonna use some white glue and you saw me use the standard
white glue bottle it’s not as good as one of these luer lock bottles with a
blunt nosed steel tip on it I have a link for those below as well because
these luer lock bottles allow you to get the glue exactly where you want and you
really don’t need that much to glue a piece of cardboard together the
cardboard is pretty absorbent and absorbs that glue instantly so one of
these luer lock bottles much better than the standard white glue dispensing
bottle you really get some good control we’re gonna put the ends onto this
cardboard cube and we’re almost there yeah we’re gonna put the side down that
does have the burn marks on it on the inside of the box just a little trick
there because you won’t see that I want to have the nice side on the outside of
the box when you’re cutting this chipboard on the laser you want to make
sure that you set the laser power at the absolute minimum that you need to cut
through the material anymore all you’re gonna do is burn the edges mess up the
part so you want to have just the right amount to where it just cuts through and
nothing more gives you a nice sharp cliffs crisp
clean box watch any of the other videos on my channel you know that I’m big fan
of foam core and I have multiple videos on foam core basics and foam core
advanced basics we’re gonna basically make a foam core cube here we don’t need
an online resource for that because we know we’re gonna make a two inch by two
inch by two inch cube and all the sides are gonna be the same because we’re
gonna bevel the edges in this case we’re gonna make this cube with a hole in the
middle this is something that would be pretty difficult to do by hand but with
the laser piece of cake you can get the software to line up that hole right in
the middle of your part without very much difficulty once I have all the
pieces cut out I’m gonna go through and bevel each of the edges at 45 degrees so
that I can fold up the sides of the box to create my cube and you all know I
hate hot glue but in this case hot glue is a nice material to use to glue the
foam core together it sets up quickly it’s thick fills up the space in between
the 45 it works quite well make sure you have that piece of tape on the end to
glue the box together I use the cutting board to make the box nice and square
you could use your right angle square as well we want to know the size of that
circle to cut out we know that it’s a 30 millimeter diameter circle that radius
is 15 you go on line use the circumference of a circle to find out
the dimension and boom you can build a box in your
laser cutting software that is the exact size of the inside circumference of that
hole I’m going to make a little test one just to test things out make sure that I
can put the thing together and I use a regular piece of paper and a piece of
tape I’d leave a little bit of a space on the end of my tape so it doesn’t come
quite to the edge of the paper so that I don’t have any weirdness on the foam
core this is just my little test piece I slide it inside the hole here you need
that overlap of the tape so that you get a good transition from one surface to
the other the hardest part of this whole box is probably just getting this little
paper tube inside the hole now I make a final paper cone or cylinder out of a
thicker paper that was just a test before so this is a little bit more
durable not as translucent and I glue that onto one end of the box
with the hole in it and we’re going to attach the other end to the existing
cube so that we can put it all together and have this nice hole going right
through our cube all right on the other end I’m gonna use
white glue and you ask well why use white glue I am gonna need some time to
get that paper tube into the hole on the other side and the hot glue is probably
gonna set up before I’m able to do that the white glue is gonna give me some
working time and here I’m using exacto blade to get that paper tube inside the
hole of the foam core there we go we’re almost there
boom drops down and eventually that white glue will dry as you know white
glue gives me great strength it works fantastic there you go cube with a hole
in it something you can probably pretty much only do with a laser next video
advanced laser techniques we’re gonna cover all kinds of other shapes and
advanced cutting techniques on the laser stay tuned for that make sure you give
the video a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already done
so hey and don’t forget to follow me on social media I’m on Facebook sometimes
Twitter usually and now Instagram will rock on click here to check out some of
the other design and making videos that I have that you might enjoy

12 thoughts on “Laser Model Making Basics Tutorial Guide: modeling tips & tricks for Designers and Architects

  • Yeah, but we all know that laser model making really didn't go mainstream until 2019 when Eric Strebel posted his classic Youtube tutorial.

  • Does the software automatically give you the speed and strength of the laser when you input the material? Thanks for the makercase.com tip btw.

  • Never heard of light burn I usually use Adobe Illustrator to make the templates, .001 size for vector cuts and numbers higher than that for raster cuts. You can also use Autodesk Fusion 360 and use their cad software to make puzzle cuts at the end so you dont have to place it at a 90 degree angle with the metal supports you use. From Fusion 360 flatten the pieces on one axis and then transfer the template to illustrator.

  • If you wanted to fit a cube snugly inside of a cylinder, what's the math to figure out how long each side of the cube would be? Actually I found it. It looks like it would make a cool project to just make circles and squares alternating within each other! https://masonsimon.com/2015/11/17/how-big-of-a-square-fits-in-a-circle/

  • Hej Erik , Great video 🙂 I think you might enjoy this open source program. It is perfect for using laser cutter a fabrication tool. https://kyub.com/

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