Constructable: Interactive Laser Cutting


Do you miss the old days of making things by hand, without the aid of a computer? Do you remember actually drafting drawings by hand? Well, the folks over at the Human-Computer Interaction group from the Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a rather novel idea, combining manual input via laser pointers, to cut designs with a laser cutter. Sound familiar? A few days ago we shared another cool project on Laser Origami from the same people.

So what exactly is it? It’s an interactive drafting table which can produce very precise physical outputs from a rather imprecise input method. By using specific laser pointers, the user can instruct the laser cutter to cut, trace, or etch designs into the workpiece. A camera picks up the laser pointer and then the software cleans it up, by straightening lines, connecting the dots, etc. While only so much can be determined by the included video, it’s pretty impressive to see what the software comes up with while cutting the design… We can’t really imagine the programming behind it!

Between this and PACCAM: Interactive 2D Part Packing, it looks like laser cutting is going to get a whole lot more user friendly! Stick around after the break to see it in action, the results are quite impressive!

7 thoughts on “Constructable: Interactive Laser Cutting

    1. It trades some of the possibilities of CAD for speed and ease of use. E.g. you can make a finger-jointed box very quickly. You can’t define it’s absolute dimensions down to the milimeter (at least not without something to trace around), but all parts fit one another perfectly, which you probably couldn’t do if you did it with hand tools.

  1. Interestingly, how difficult to add small projector to this system, which will visualize users shapes right on sheet of processed material, or on cover glass. It will be possible to select and fix some shapes, like in vector graphic editor, for example. Or even put the dimensions with help of digit input for more accuracy, not only with hands.

  2. Tbh, this seems like it would be beneficial in artistic applications rather than engineering… like hand-held ABS extruders. Struggling to see a point beyond that. The example in the picture above wouldn’t take very long to CAD.

  3. If you added a projector, you could display the design and make changes before destructively modifying the workpiece with the laser. You could also display measurements and select tools using a GUI instead of a dozen different laser pointers.

    If you then moved designing the part away from producing the piece, other people could use the laser cutter without having to wait around for you to finish drawing stuff.

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