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Dinomite!

Laser engraving and cutting systems are used extensively in the awards and personalization space for a variety of applications. In this area, lasers are often used to personalize awards, customize gifts, or create signage; however, many laser operators are finding new and different ways to utilize this type of technology to create items with a bit more dimension and depth.

Dinomite!

Create 3D Models with Your Laser System

By Ben Sieber, Senior Graphic Designer, Epilog Laser

(Originally published in the October 2015 issue of Recognition Review.)

Laser engraving and cutting systems are used extensively in the awards and personalization space for a variety of applications. In this area, lasers are often used to personalize awards, customize gifts, or create signage; however, many laser operators are finding new and different ways to utilize this type of technology to create items with a bit more dimension and depth.

While you may think of 3D printers as the go-to for creating models and prototypes, laser cutters like Epilog’s are fast becoming a more time- and cost-effective method for making 3D creations.

Thanks to laser cutters and 123D Make—free software available from Autodesk, Inc.—laser operators can easily cut and assemble nearly any 3D model in a fraction of the time it would take to fabricate using a 3D printer. Laser cutters also make creating 3D models a less expensive endeavor since you’re not relegated to a particular material. Since the lasers can cut nearly any material—from corrugated cardboard and wood to acrylic—operators can use inexpensive mediums, even scrap pieces.

Here, we’ll walk you through the steps of creating this fun T-Rex 3D model, provided by Autodesk, Inc. Go to https://www.epiloglaser.com/assets/downloads/sample-club/trex-head-layered-model.zip to download the 3D model.

Materials Needed

Equipment and Settings

For this project, we used a 60-watt Fusion 32 and utilized Epilog’s Color Mapping feature to set up the designs for faster run time and more precise lasering. Color Mapping allows you to assign different speed, power, and frequency settings to different colors in your design. There’s no need to run separate jobs on one project— the Color Mapping dictates where and when to cut and/or engrave. For this project, set your Color Mapping Settings to:

  • Blue and Green lines set to speed 15%, power 100%, and frequency 100.
  • Red lines set to speed 100%, power 20%, and frequency 100.

Engraving Steps

  1. Start by opening the design file. You’ll notice that the slices are grouped into four sheets and laid out in order of the number on each slice. The numbers correspond to the order in which you place the slices on the square dowels when building the 3D model. We chose to reorganize the slices after exporting them from 123D Make to speed up assembly. If you are using a smaller system than the Fusion 32, you’ll need to rearrange the slices of the T-Rex to fit the sheet size you are using. We recommend keeping the slices in order so you can build the model as the slices are coming out of the laser.
  2. Place your first sheet of cardboard in the laser and cut your first sheet using the speed and power settings suggested on the previous page.
  3. Once you have cut your first sheet of slices, you can begin assembling your 3D T-Rex Head Model. Begin with slice No. 1.
  4. Start with the longest dowel, dowel No. 1. Place the longest dowel in the hole in the No. 1 slice then add the No. 2 and 3 slices. Then add the No. 2 middle length dowel to the second hole, which starts in the No. 3 slice. From there, just keep gluing and sliding on slices until you are finished!

The total amount of time you spend creating the model will vary, based on the size of your engraving table and material you’re cutting. We were able to cut and assemble this model in approximately 25 minutes.


Ben Sieber is the senior graphic designer at Epilog Laser. With an associate’s degree in fine art and a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, Sieber has put his artistic and technological background to work at Epilog Laser for more than 10 years—and he’s always on the lookout for more applications. Visit www.epiloglaser.com to learn more about the company and its products and to access many projects, complete with design files, instructions, and photos.

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