Intro to fabrication – Week #3 – Laser Cut Subway Car

This week we got some insights about measurements and useful and accurate tools to use. We also saw a lot of examples of laser cut applications that we can do with the machines at ITP’s shop. I really liked the metal etching, and hope to make something with this method in the future.

I decided this week to create a model of a subway car. I looked at a lot of examples, and finally found a car train that I liked, which is similar to the regular subway car that we take these days – R65.  I found it in this blog, made by a guy that makes paper models for vehicles. In order to laser cut my car, I needed to remake the model in vector. I also wanted to play a bit with the sizes, and the design.

I got two materials that I wanted to try, grey/black mountboard, and Basswood. I found those two at Blick art store. I thought the gray mountboard will look good etched, when it will reveal the black board which is the second layer in this board.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.21.13 PM

After I finished the work on the car, I made some tests with my materials, on the 75W machine in the shop. I wanted to test the way it etches, half-cut and cut the material. I planned to have curved corners on the car, so I wanted to test that first.


Vector etch: 50/30/50 works best, as a vector cut that etches, not in the etching mode.

Half cut: 40/70/50 X2, I figures it’s best to do it twice than make the power higher, and also to avoid burning marks.

Cut: 30/80/50 X2 , fully cut.

Small tests in the corner of the board:


Then after getting good results in the test, I started to cut, by using the layers in order to first etch and then to cut:

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.49.27 PM

And this is how the first cat came out:


After building the car with the mountboard, I tested the machine with the Basswood:


Basically the speed will determine if the vector etching will be darker or lighter.

I ended up using 20/8/20, for cutting I used 20/100/20.

I also changed the model to not have the curved corners, because I figured it will just break with the wood.

So I ended up with two subway cars..I really enjoyed the work on the curved parts, It’s great to explore how half cuts work.

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I also used the CNC this week with the help of Illay from 2nd year, in order to make my group P-comp prototype. He showed me how to cut circles that we needed, by making a file in illustrator. We went over the workflow in the CNC Mastercam software , choosing bits, aligning the machine and adjusting the files after exporting.


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1 comment.

  1. Nice work on the laser cut subway car. I agree with you, I think if you tried to do the bends in the wood, it would have broke or cracked.

    How is the wood attached, wood glue?

    Nice work with the CNC, I’m glad you went forward after I warned you how much time it would take. Looks like it went well, let me know if you have any questions.

    If you just needed wooden circles, why not just use the router circle jig?

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