Laser Cutting for your Architectural Model

To get the most out of laser cutting for your architectural model, we have put together some tips to consider when preparing your files.  These guidelines will save you money, time and effort, and help you create a slick looking model.

CONSIDER:

– Sticking to a consist material palette: 2-3 materials rather than 5-6 different types

– Adding texture, colour and tones through material pairings e.g. using walnut veneer with frosted acrylic and cork

– Using application tape to reduce burn marks on the faces of your material, especially timber – save valuable time sanding every piece post-cutting – more time sleeping!

– Labelling your contour model layers by light scoring a number of each layer for ease of assembly

– Lightly scoring line work to leave guide lines for gluing and putting together your model

– Getting creative with material choices, if you’re on a budget, consider using black card as a site model and having a model made with white, opal, frosted or clear acrylic sitting on top of a sleek black site model. Corrugated card is always a great option for a cheaper alternative for a site model

Cork is also a great option for site model and offers an interesting aesthetic and depth of texture

– Laser cut boxboard for quick “thinking” concept models and prototypes

– Sanding the burnt edges of plywood after laser cutting, this gives a more professional and finished look to your whole model

– Checking for joined and doubled up lines to avoid longer cut times and excessive burn

– The fragility and structure of your model – if you design window frames that are 1-2mm wide, the final piece will not be structurally stable and will easily break

Laser cutting for architectural models
Laser cutting for architectural models

AVOID:

– Cutting elements smaller than 4mm: the width of the laser beam (kerf) needs to be considered when modelling for laser cutting, and single elements may also be lost in the laser bed / extraction. You can always leave small ‘bridges’ for elements that need to be very small

– Positioning acrylic elements closer together than 2mm otherwise this may result in the material melting / warping due to the way acrylic reacts to the heat of the laser

– Placing detailed and repetitive score lines closer than 2mm together – if they are too close there could be increased material burn and blurred score lines

Laser cutting screenboard for model
Laser cutting screenboard

To get started on your model, download our easy to follow laser cutting template (.ai, .3dm or .dxf) and our laser cutting 101 guide from our homepage.

We have put together a ‘golden rules’ of file setup for both in Illustrator and Rhino to assist you with getting your artwork ready for laser cutting

If you need help with your file, we offer a digitisation service and we can convert and prepare the file for laser cutting.