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Experimenting with a laser cut model

— 26 Jan 2022

The Globe Devon Architects model Copy

We recently used Barnstaple Library’s Fab Lab to laser cut a prototype model for a renovation and extension project in North Devon. We supplied them with 3mm card and CAD files of our design. The 2D line drawings included plans of the building shell and surrounding road and pavement layout as well as simplified versions of the building elevations. Once we received the cut items, we were able to glue them together and begin to cut in roof profiles by hand.

Although the 3mm card was roughly the correct scale for the depth of the building walls, the big open window reveals looked too deep and clumsy and so we decided that the final model, which was to be built from ply, should include better represented fenestration.

Wanting to understand how the laser cutter would produce detailed engraving at such a small scale, we sent a variety of window and door options off to the Fab Lab for a test cut using both 3mm and 1mm ply.

There were various issues to consider including scorch marks from the laser alignment when working on such a small scale. The most successful result came from cutting blank openings into a 1mm ply sheet overlaid onto a solid sheet engraved with shadow details.

To ensure there are no scorch marks on the final model, all of the cuts will be made on the reverse side of the ply so the front finish will be clean.

We are extremely grateful to the Fab Lab for working with us to make the cardboard prototype and carrying out test cuts and techniques that will enable us to create a project model which is cost effective to manufacture and visually pleasing. The Fab Lab is a fantastic resource; providing workshop space, technology and opportunities for the local community to use at a low cost to design, invent and create.

For more information see their website

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