Last time, I showed you how to create your own library of component parts. This time, follow along with a, laser-cut puzzle project. Learn how to convert solid entities into laser-cut ready objects.

Although some free tools exist that automatically split a 3D model into a laser-cut puzzle, they are not yet capable of extremely complex objects with many different angles. The model used in this project is an oversimplified example, however, the principles can be applied to far more complicated objects. The only limitation is your imagination!

Commands covered:

We’re going to start off with a 3D model, if you don’t have any you can download free CAD objects. For this project, you’re going to want to start with a single solid. The simpler the shape the easier it will be to split up.

Converting a solid into a laser-cut puzzle

I began by splitting my object into slices, the extracting the faces and using DMThicken to convert the faces into solids. I repeated this action on a “cutting” layer and used these objects to generate the slots.

How to do this:
  1. COPY the entity as shown.laser-cut caterpillar project
  2. Use the SLICE tool to split the solid as shown.free laser cutting project catapillar
  3. Use XFACES to extract the face of each cutting plane.laser-cut caterpillar project
  4. Delete the excess solids.
    Tip: Use the entities panel to select and remove the solids.
  5. COPY everything onto a new “cutting” layer.split a 3D solid into slices for lasercutting
  6. DMTHICKEN the first set of regions. Distance: 2.5, both sides.dmthicken bricscad
  7. Repeat on the cutting layer. This time with a distance of 2.6. This is to allow for tolerance on the slots.
  8. Delete all regions.
  9. EXTRUDE a surface from the centerline, through the cutting layer entities, as shown.use a surfaces as a cutting plane
  10. Use this as a slicing object with the SLICE command.
  11. Repeat on all entities on the “cutting” layer.
    You should now have something that looks like this:free laser cutting project catapillar
  12. Seperate the sections, as shown.laser cut puzzle project
  13. Move the cutting objects into position.
    cutting out slots for laser cutTip: Use the centerline snaping points to move everything into position. For best results, you will need to slightly offset the height that the cutting object meets the object to be cut out.
  14. Subtract the cutting layer from the main layer.
    The results should look like this:peices of the lasercut puzzel.Note: Some of these slots are angled. Because laser cutters cut at 90 degrees, you will need to make some manual adjustments.
  15. To finish your laser cut puzzle project, simply slot everything together.laser cut puzzle project

Create the 2D file

A laser-cut -ready .dxf file can be created by simply arranging all the pieces and then hitting EXPORT.

Tip: Use VIEWBASE to create a top-down view automatically, no need to worry about making sure that all the objects are on the same plane!

Automatically generating laser-cut-ready files

I tested this model on an automatic, laser-cut puzzle, generation software. Even when I spent a large amount of time adjusting the results, the software was unable to successfully generate a set of plans equivalent to that of above.

automatically generate lasere cut puzzel plans
Model automatically generated using free software, due to the large number of angles at which the legs meet the body. Note the red pieces are not manufacturable.

Don’t have BricsCAD yet?

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Keep Reading

  1. Moving from 2D to 3D CAD
  2. 3D Drawing from engineering plans
  3. Drawing everything but the kitchen sink
  4. More Advanced Modeling
  5. The Shower
  6. The Sink
  7. The Toilet
  8. Walls and Floors
  9. The Roof
  10. Windows and Doors
  11. Create your own components
  12. Rubber Duck
  13. Laser-cut puzzle project

Note: This series is intended as a guide to demonstrate how to use different aspects of 3D modeling tools. It may not always demonstrate the fastest way of getting the result. Keep coming back to see if we cover a faster technique at a later date.