Laser Cutting and Scoring: A Folded Shape

Paul Haeberli

Nov 1996

Horiz Bar

This project explores using lasers to score and cut material to create very precise and complicated folded patterns. This was my first experiment in laser manufacturing.

To get going, I read the AutoCad DXF spec and got a sample file from the studio that provides laser cutting services. Then I wrote a C program to allow me to generate a DXF file on my workstation with score and cut coordinates.

The program generated a drawing that looked like this. Here, blue lines represent cuts, while the gray lines represent scores.

I transferred the DXF file to a PC floppy and gave it to the studio with the laser cutting machine. A few days later, I got back several sheets of mylar and paper that were cut and scored in two different sizes.

On mylar the scored lines appear a light gray color, while on paper these score lines are slightly brown. I found the mylar was even easier to fold than the paper.

To make this shape, first the material is folded into a zig zag pattern.

Then one side of the object is folded like this.

Finally the other side is folded in a similar way to complete the object.

This is the same shape fabricated from paper.

It's nice to explore the possibilities of these shapes as they are manipulated.

Perhaps someday we can model the dynamics of these kinds of surfaces on the computer.

This is similar to the first structure, but fabricated at a larger size.

For my next project in laser manufacturing, I created a plot of a 3D surface function from cardboard.