Fabricating a Digital Form Using the Triangulation Method


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This workflow presents a method for fabricating a physical model out of folded paper from a digital form using the "triangular unfolding" method of first preparing a mesh model for 123dmake, generating an unfolded form in preparation for lasercutting, and finally assembling the cut pieces into a folded paper model.
Uses Tool(s) Rhinoceros

Download and install 123D Make by Autodesk: 123D Make

Download a rhino file to work with here


Step 1: Join mesh faces and export as STL file

The mesh faces we've created must now be joined and exported for further work in 123D Make. It is a good idea to analyze the mesh before export to be sure there are no missing faces or naked edges.

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Step 2: Import STL file into 123D Make

Open 123D Make and import the STL file we just created.

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Step 3: Adjust settings in 123D Make

Adjust the sheet size to the the size of the laser bed.

Change the Construction Technique to "Folded Panels".

Increase the vertex count until the preview shows the form most accurately.

Optimize panels by "Compactness".

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Under "Manufacturer Settings", change the thickness to 0.005.

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Step 4: Export cut files to PDF

At the top right of the interface, the program shows how many pieces would be cut across how many sheets.

Select "Perforate". Check the "Model Issues" tab to see if there are any issues with the model. If there were issues, the trouble pieces would be colored red.

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If all looks good, click "Get Plans" from the bottom left of the interface. Choose "PDF" and export.

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Step 5: Finalize Preparations for Laser Cut in Rhino

Open a CAD/CAM Rhino template file and import the PDF. Make sure to import it to scale (not to fit).

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First select all the geometry and in the Properties dialogue set everything to "By Layer".

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Now assign appropriate cut layers to all the geometry. Annotation on an "Engrave" layer; Profile lines on the "Outside Cut" layer; Perforations on the "Inside Cut" layer.

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