[Stefanie Mueller]

Laser-Cutting 3D Objects


Stefanie Mueller, Bastian Kruck, and Patrick Baudisch, CHI ’13

Figure 1: LaserOrigami fabricates 3D structure by bending, rather than using joints, thereby eliminating the need for manual assembly. Here it fabricates a mobile phone screen cam by (a) cutting the contour lines and (b) heating up the bend paths until the material becomes compliant and bends down under the influence of gravity. When the user retrieves the object, it is already assembled and (c) ready to be deployed.
We present LaserOrigami, a rapid prototyping system that produces 3D objects using a laser cutter. LaserOrigami is substantially faster than traditional 3D fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and unlike traditional laser cutting the resulting 3D objects require no manual assembly. The key idea behind LaserOrigami is that it achieves three-dimensionality by folding and stretching the workpiece, rather than by placing joints, thereby eliminating the need for manual assembly. LaserOrigami achieves this by heating up selected regions of the workpiece until they become compliant and bend down under the force of gravity. LaserOrigami administers the heat by defocusing the laser, which distributes the laser’s power across a larger surface. LaserOrigami implements cutting and bending in a single integrated process by automatically moving the cutting table up and down — when users take out the workpiece, it is already fully assembled. We present the three main design elements of LaserOrigami: the bend, the suspender, and the stretch, and demonstrate how to use them to fabricate a range of physical objects. Finally, we demonstrate an interactive fabrication version of LaserOrigami, a process in which user interaction and fabrication alternate step-by-step.

Figure 2: LaserOrigami fabricated the screen cam from Figure 1 in 3min compared to (b) the 240min the 3D printer required (Dimension Elite 3D printer). (c) Traditional laser cutting requires assembly.






Mueller, S., Kruck, B., and Baudisch, P. LaserOrigami: Laser-Cutting 3D Objects.
In Proceedings of CHI ’13, pp. 2585-2592. [Best Paper Award]
 PDF (7.7MB) |  Slides (148.1MB) | Video | CHI Talk | 
[DEMO AT CHI'13]  Interactivity PDF (1.6MB)



Wired Design | Ponoko | Tested | TeachSTEMNow | Inhabitat | 3ders

Presentation at CHI ’13 (15 min)


Click the first image to start. For videos please see the keynote file ( Slides (148.1MB)).
If you have any questions, please write me an email.

LaserOrigami Tutorial (still in the making, May 30)


Download the example file:

0) Disclaimer
This tutorial describes the generic process of how LaserOrigami works at the specific example of a small city outline of Paris, cut from 1.5mm antireflex acrylic with a PLS6.150D Universal Laser Cutter (150W) with a 1.5 lens.
The settings described in this tutorial will vary depending on the type of laser cutter you use, the lens you use in the laser cutter and which thickness of material you are trying to bend.

1) Does your Lasercutter have an automatic motion table? (Auto-Z = ON)

Is your laser cutter able to move the platform on which the workpiece rests up and down?
This feature is normally used to cut materials of different thicknesses, i.e. the platform moves down for thicker materials to keep the workpiece in the focus plane of the laser.
If you are not sure, check the settings of your lasercutter and look for “Autofocus”, “Automatic z-homing” or something similar. For our lasercutter, Auto-z is per default on.
Here is how it looks for our lasercutter :

2) Does your Lasercutter support color-coding different material settings?

LaserOrigami color codes which lines are cut and which lines are bend (see example file above).
Additionally the colors define in which order the different steps are executed.
Here is why: Our lasercutter defines different power, speed and z-axis (motion table up or down) settings in different colors (see image below).
Colors are processed in the order from top to bottom: Black, Red, Green, Yellow and so on.
As you can see the yellow line has a different z-axis setting than the other colors. z-axis is the setting that moves the platform away from the laser. While all other colors are very close to the laser (in focus -> cut), the yellow line causes the platform to move 5.2cm away from the laser in defocused mode (defocus -> bend).

3) Turn Vector-Optimizer off (line order within a certain color)

Many laser-cutters optimize the laser head movement by executing the lines in a different order than they were initially created in the drawing program. This feature is called vector optimizer. For LaserOrigami the order in which lines are executed is very important and should not be changed by the lasercutter. So the vectoroptimizer should be set to “None” (= use the stacking order of layers in the drawing program, which can be changed with “move to front/move to back”) .

4) Lasercut the LaserOrigami stand

These stands are going to replace your honeycomb (so parts have space to drop when being bend). If you want to make your life easier, make the stands exactly the height of your honeycomb.
Cut at least four of these stands or design your own.
Use a heat gun to bend them. Make sure say stand perfectly balanced.

Download file:

5) Find correct z-axis settings

Pictures for the Press


[Download Highres Images]