Fab Academy 3

Computer-Controlled Cutting

Modular Parametric Toys

Created in Rhino / Grasshopper

Rhino File
Grasshopper File

For the parametric desighn assignment, I used Grasshopper and Rhino. The process in the biit complicated, but after a while exploring and tweking it, it was really fun. I learned it from a youtube tutorial and then changed it.

Basically the process is to create the notch to be used, link it to a curve in grashopper and this in turn to an object that is created, in which the parameters can be adjusted. Then decide the position and quantities of this notch in relation to the object, and the number of objects that you want to have in a certain space arranged in the form of a mesh. Then you must bake the file to Rhino and you're ready to export for cutting.

  1. First you have to create on Rhino the kind of notches you want, and for that you shoul take in count the thicknes of the material and also it´s rigidness, because it works pretty different in cardboard, wood or even acrylic for example. For this project, after some test, I used common rectables with a little chafle on the edges.
  2. In Gasshopper, first create a CURVE. We RIGHT CLICK on it and select SET CURVE from the menu. And we select in Rhino the notch we want to use.
  3. A good practice is to rename the things you add to Grasshoper so you know which is chich.
  4. Create a BOUNDING BOX component, we connect the CURVE that has the notch to it in the CONTENT slot (C). RIGHT CLICK on it and select UNION BOX. This mapps the geometry of the notch.
  5. Create a DECONSTRUCT BREP component, we connect the BOUNDING BOX  from the upper BOX slot (B) to it in the BREP slot (B).
  6. Create a EVALUATE SURFACE component, we connect the DECONSTRUCT BRE from the upper FACES slot (F) to it in the SURFACE slot (S). This will evaluate the pints in the surface. Add a PANEL PROPERTIES module to select the point in which you want the points to appear. {0.0, 0.5, 0.0}, and then you have to RIGHT CLICK on it and REPARAMETRIZE. That defines the UV parameters to be from 0.0 to 1.1
  7. Create a RECTANGLE object, and then add a domain with CONSTRUCT DOMAIN. This wil generate an area around the object.
  8. Add a number value and connect it to the DOMAIN START (A) and DOMAIN END (B). After then RIGHT CLICK on the A, CLICK expression to open the expression editor and write -X, so that the values goes from negative X to positive X. Then connect it to the X SIZE slot (X) in the RECTANGLE.
  9. Repeat the instruction number 8 to generate the Y SIZE value. WIth that you will decide the sizes of the sides of the RECTANGLE.
  10. Create a EXPLODE component and conect the RECTANGLE (R) to the CURVE slot (C).

Trotec Speedy 500 / 100 Settings:

  1. First you need to check that the ventilation in On before turning on the machine, because the burning of material could generate some toxic gases and also so that the mirror doesn´t contaminates.
  2. Calibrate the machine with the tool, by manually moving the Z up slowly until the calibration tool falls. There you have your laser calibrated.
  3. Select the file in Trotec JobControl software .
  4. Ctrl + M: The Material Database window will open. Define the Power, Speed, and PPI/Hz. Depending on the material you are using and the process wanted.
  5. 4mm Plywood:
    CUT:                75 - 0.5 - 1000
  6. Select which process to start from and which color vector it has. You should always start with the rasters if you have or the inner smaller cuts before doing the outer cuts for stability.
  7. Send to the laser cut and check it doesn´t burns.


Created in Illustrator

DXF File

Silhoutte Cameo Setting

For the Vynil Cutting assignment I created the file in Illustrator and the cutted it in the Silhouette Cameo. The have a pretty neat website with tutorials on how to do everything with it.

Basicly, what you have to do is to place the paper or vinyl you want to cut in the cutting mat, unlock the rollers and add the material with the automatic controller by pressing enter.

In the Silhouette software adjust the setting of the size of material you are going to use and make sure your file fits on it.

Check the material settings in the software so that it matches the material you are going to use, the software comes with some pressets and that will also define the depth of the blade and the speed.

Check the calibration of the blade by removing the blade, putting it into the socket and turning it and there you will see the number in the side that tell you the size of the blade. Test in a corner before you send the whole cut because sometimes because maybe it it cutting to little or too much and then it will be dificult to peel or might damage the design.

Send the file to Silhouette to cut, and then after cutting remove the mat from the machine with the unload button and carefully pill the rest to have your cutted file.


NOTE: The file needs to be an DXF file so that it doen´t has conflits with the machine. I tried with Illustrator and didn´t worked. Also have on mind that thiner, smaller designs are more dificult to peel.

Illustrator Design

To design this file, what I did was taking a picture of a Tatoo I have, then oppen it in Illustrator, design some paths around it to create the vector with a black fill inside, check that the paths where closed, save it and export it.

I really enjoyed this week, mainly because it was quite a challenge for me to use Rhino and also Grasshopper, since although I had once used 3D programs, I had never used these so I had to do a lot of research to understand how everything was done. , but in the end I already did it much more easily. Likewise, he had never used a laser cutting machine either.

I think it is very interesting how doing things in a parametric way works, since it makes it easier for you just to change some instructions, to be able to change your entire design, its size, the joints and others.

I liked this thing about making parametric toys, so much so that I even made them first out of cardboard, where I realized that the joints I had used, although they were very tight, were difficult after disassembling, and then I made them in plywood making new shapes and with other types of simpler unions.

The Vinyl Cutter process, although it is much simpler, I think it can have many utilities such as the one shown in making flexible circuits or the screen.


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