'Computer-controlled cutting'


Parametric design

One of the requirements of this assignment was to use parametric design. So far, in class, we've seen a few software like (FreeCad or Fusion 360) that could help us with the individual projects. Still, I decided to stick to Rhino and Grasshopper as I found fascinating the relationship and, somehow, liberty of exploring for designers.

Grasshopper uses generative algorithms. It requires no knowledge of programming or scripting, but it does need a structured mind. So far, I can't say I know it. I watched a bunch of tutorials and then decided what to do with my "waffle structure" design.

To make this design, I followed the instructions of the following tutorial. When finished, I chose the curves I wanted to cut and then organized them to fit the cardboard (600x300mm) The Fab Lab gave each of the students.


  • After finishing the design it is important to check I don't have duplicated curves
  • Assign layers to the preset colors (black, red, blue, etc) When printing the file for the laser cut, you can choose the actions according to the colors.


Laser cutting

When I was done with the design. I needed to prepare the file for the Trotec 100 (as it is the one I've chosen to use).
Steps to follow:
  • Select file in Trotec setup
  • Ctrl + M: The Material Database window will open
  • Choose: Process, Power, Speed, and PPI/Hz.
  • Send to laser cut

Vinyl cutter

For the vinyl I chose to use an illustrtion that could represent my project. For the drawing I used a mixture of tools in Illustrator, as the pen for the eyes' curves, circle for the "iris and pupil", and rectangles rotated to 45° for the cross out. For the last shape, I didn't want the Silhouette Cameo to pass the knife through all the lines, so to arrange the objects and join them together I used the "PathFinder" window.

To upload the file into the Silhouette cameo software and machine.
Steps to follow:
  • Open the file in the software
  • Set parameters or let default
  • Paste the Vinyl piece to the plastic sheet and place them onthe machine by using the lever/handle to make the rollers come a bit up.
  • Run a test. Make sure the machine is connected to the computer!
  • See the test results
  • Reset parameters in case needed (as for example shorten the blade if it cutted the plastic sheet or make it come out a bit more to properly cut the vinyl. The machine has an automatic blade function, there is no need to do it manually. Before of doing it by hand try to adjust it through the software.)
  • Send files


I don't know why.. but if you look close to it you can see that the first eye is not cut well. As if the machine decided the points of the ellipse and then cut straight from one point to another. On the contrary the second eye, doesn't have the same error.