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Picture of Designing in Tinkercad for a Laser Cutter

Tinkercad is a great, easy to get started with, computer-aided design (CAD) program.

We use it regularly to quickly design demos and props, as well as guide and encourage people to use it in our workshops. You might be reading this from one of our workshops right now!

With a bit of practice, it is easy to design for a 3D printer. By rotating around your model, you can see how it connects together, and check for awkward overhangs!

If you haven't tried designing for a 3D printer before, we recommend that you work through Tinkercad's excellent tutorials:

You are probably here because you don't want to design for a 3D printer, or because your project is more suited to a laser cutter.

Designing for a laser cutter requires a slightly different way of thinking about your model, which isn't quite as intuitive.

This Instructable will guide you through designing your first laser cuttable project in Tinkercad.

Note: this does not contain any information on physically using the laser cutter.

Please share your designs with us, we'd love to see what you come up with!

Note: if you are in one of our workshops, make sure that you follow all of the steps to export an .SVG file that looks correct to you, before bringing us your design.

Step 1: Comparing a Laser Cutter to a 3D Printer

A laser cutter does what it sounds like - it cuts things, with a laser!

If you draw a square on a piece of paper, you can cut it out with scissors.

If you draw a square using a computer, you can tell the laser exactly where to cut, to make a much neater square than you could do with scissors.

A 3D printer will build up your design layer by layer, until the whole thing is built.

A laser cutter will start with a big, flat, piece of material, and cut your design out of it. It is much quicker than a 3D printer.

A few things to think about when designing:

  • The thickness of your piece will depend on how thick the starting material is.
  • You can make 3D shapes with a laser cutter, but you tell the laser cutter to cut out each piece separately and assemble it afterwards.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both laser cutters and 3D printers, and which one you choose will depend on lots of factors.

Thanks for creating this excellent guide! I will be sharing this with some teacher friends who are just getting into laser cutting at their schools. :)
ScienceOxford (author)  WeTeachThemSTEM1 month ago
Thank you! I hope your teacher friends find it helpful, let us know if they have any feedback or suggestions :)