The purpose of this project was to gain exposure with designing and building 2.5D objects using a laser cutter. The .5 refers to the fact that a laser cutter can operate in more than just 2 dimensions--it can also cut through solid sheets, but for this project, I'm not creating a 3D model. Instead, my challenge is to design and build a 3D toy puzzle using 2D pieces in the form of an animal. The animal that I've chosen is a deer.
Using a 18'' x 24'', 1.60 mm thick natural mat board, I designed 4 puzzle pieces that assembles into a deer. My design makes use of full cuts and etching. I cut the deer's large pieces and etched the deer's eyes and hooves.
Initial sketches of deer guided how I would transform parts of the deer into puzzle pieces. Ultimately, I made use of 4 puzzle pieces which included: the head, 2 sets of legs, and body. Since the body and legs were simplified in my design, I wanted to add intricacy to the head by making the antlers as realistic as possible.
After transferring my sketches onto Adobe Illustrator for a hi-fidelity version, I printed and cut the puzzle pieces to ensure that they would fit like I imagined. I was concerned about the thickness of the puzzle pieces because it had to fit snug. The size of the pieces were perfect, but because the paper was so thin and wobbly, it didn't serve as the best standing model. It didn't verify if a 0.05 thickness between the slots would fit in the final model. To prevent the risk of puzzle slots not fitting well, I asked my friend for recommendations, and she assured that 0.05 would be okay.
FINAL OBJECT PROTOTYPE
Then, I transferred the .ai file to Rhinoceros 3D to add final touch-ups such as the color associations to ensure that red = cut and blue = etch. Finally, I sent the rhino file to the laser cutter.
I had one participant assemble the pieces of my puzzle. From this usability test session, I received that the deer "looked really nice" and that their "favorite part was the deer's head because of the antlers." However, the "eyes looked too human and not deer enough," and they couldn't tell if the bentedness of the front two legs were purposefully designed that way or if I did it on accident. Overall, the puzzles fit nicely, and they "really [liked] how [I] made it appear 3D using 2D pieces."
I also presented my prototype in a gallery-style critique and received the following feedback:
WHAT WENT WELL
Though the antlers and steadiness was received well, there were a few improvement recommendations presented by my peers. The suggestions included:
Overall, my goal of making the antlers the focus of the deer worked! I received a lot of positive feedback about my deer's antlers, consistency, and steadiness. I think it really helped to print my hi-fidelity prototype to test the size and shapes of the pieces.
Since this was my first time using Rhinoceros to create a 2D object model, I did not know how to add more design onto the deer's body, but next time, I'd definitely spend more time learning how to use the tool so that I can make the eyes appear realistic. I'd also fix the body slot so that the front legs are straight because I agree it looked bent.
Learning how to laser cut was really fun! I enjoyed coming up with designs for my deer and turning my designs into a real model. Watching the laser cutter perform the cuts and etches was really satisfying. I highly recommend everyone learn how to laser cut!