Lab:Laser Cutting

From CS294-84 Spring 2013
Jump to: navigation, search


  • You must complete safety training by our lab manager Mark Oehlberg before you can use the laser cutter. If you were not trained last semester, we'll have an intro course during the first class, and possibly later in the week.
  • In this lab, you will learn how to build basic project enclosures on the laser cutter.
  • Information on our laser cutter is available on the Invention Lab Wiki Laser Cutting page.
  • Work in pairs.

Key concepts: gluing acrylic; slots&tabs; cutouts for fasteners; snap fit without fasteners

Software: You can use a number of different software packages. For drawing, we can help you with Adobe Illustrator (available to Berkeley students for free) and Solidworks (student license). You can also the free and open source InkScape or the free and closed-source Autodesk Inventor Fusion. For sliceforms, use 123D Make. For programming,

Part 1: Gluing and Screwing

Learn how to draw tab-and-slot panels for a basic rectangular box. The bottom and sides should be glued with acrylic glue, while the top should be fastened with two 4-40 screws, so you can open the box. Here is a reasonably good tutorial. Engrave your name on one panel.

Advice: Make the box small (maybe 2x2x1in) so you have enough material. Do a test cut in paper first to convince yourself that you have the right parts.

Extra credit:

  • Make a hinged top lid.
  • Enclosures usually need openings for connectors, and mounting options for a PCB. Add mounting holes for a PCB, e.g., using 4-40 hex standoffs, and cutouts to make the USB port, reset button, and power jack accessible.
  • Make a box that uses no glue and zero fasteners. See the Adafruit Rasperry Pi box for an example.

Part 2: Sliceforms

Pick an interesting 3D model, e.g., from Thingiverse , and produce a sliceform model of it with 123D Make. We recommend you use interlocked sliced and cut out of cardstock paper.

Extra credit for ambitious or intriguing models with complicated topology (i.e., more than a deformed sphere).

Part 3: Box making Script

Write a program that takes as input the width, height, and depth of a box and a material thickness. The program should generate a file that contains the outlines of a tab-and-slot box suitable for cutting on our laser cutter. At a minimum, have one tab or slot per edge. In essence, reproduce a basic version of the BoxMaker. It is fine if you need need to do some basic manual post-processing in Illustrator/Corel to cut your generated file.

One way to accomplish this is to use Processing and export a PDF file which you can then open in Illustrator. You could also write an Illustrator Script in one of Adobe's supported languages. The third-party Scriptographer works up to Illustrator CS5. You can also try one of the web-centric vector drawing libraries like paper.js or Raphael and try to export SVG. We have not attempted this.


All materials you need are on a table to the right of the laser cutter. Take one 12"x24" piece of extruded acrylic (with blue backing) per team. You can also take one or more sheets of 12x24 cardstock - cut a piece from the larger sheets.

Lab1-materials1.jpg Lab1-materials2.jpg


Your lab writeup is due on Friday Feb 1 by 5pm.

Turn in instructions

Create a Wiki Page for this assignment

Begin by creating a new wiki page for this assignment.

Edit your user page (click on your name in the top left) to add a link to a new wiki page for this assignment. The wiki syntax should look like this:

[[Lab1-LastName1LastName2|Lab 1]]

Replace LastName with your names. Look at my user page for an example. Then click on the link and enter the information about your assignment.

Write up your project on this wiki

On the Lab1-LastName1LastName2 page you just created, add the following content:

  • Include images (How to include images). At a minimum:
    • Photos of your parts before and after assembly
    • Screenshot of the digital files you used
    • Screenshot of a box design your code generated
  • Submit your code - instructions soon
  • Written Reflection: what models you chose and why, what your implementation strategy was, and what (if anything) you learned from this assignment

One you are finished editing the page, add a link to it at the bottom of the page with your full name as the link text. The wiki syntax will look like this: *[[Lab1-LastName1LastName2|FirstName LastName1 and FirstName LastName2]]. Hit the edit button for the last section to see how I created the link for my name.

Turn in your code using the Class Revision Control System

We're still working to get the Class Revision Control System up and running. Check back soon for more information on how to check in your code.

Links to Finished Assignments

Add your submission below this line.