Hi Guys,

This is a working progress document created from the presentation itself. If you have any queries, please email fabworks@unimelb.edu.au and a FabLab staff will get back to you.


Last updated 09 Aug 2016 9am

1.        Import the contour lines into Rhino. Make sure they are at a 1:1 scale

i.e. if the contour line is 1m long, the line should be 1m in length in Rhino.

2.        Make sure the height of the contour lines are accurate.

i.e. If the contour steps are 1m different in height, move the lines in Rhino 1m in the z-axis

3.        Rebuild the curves to have the same number of control points in the contour lines.

This will make sure the loft comes out clean. Be careful not to reduce the build points too much as this may distort the line.

4.        Loft the curves. This will create the surface of the contour.

5.        Scale down the surface (and buildings if you have them in place) into the required physical model scale. If you need a 1:200 physical model, scale all the geometry down to that size.

6.        Create a bounding box the size of the required physical model in the contour surface.

i.e. If the physical model is the size of A2 (594 x 420mm) create a box that is 594mm length and 420mm width. Make sure your site and adjacent site features are within this boundary.

The maximum cut size of the laser cutter is 880x 580mm, which means all models should ideally be that size or smaller.

7.        Using the bounding surface, trim off the access to give you a clean version of the physical site model.

8.        Contour the surface according to the material thickness you want to use for the site model. This re-creates the contour lines for your physical model that is suited to the material.


I.e. if you’re using 3mm thick boxboard, you contour the surface by 3mm. If you’re using 1.8mm boxboard, you contour the surface by 1.8mm.

9.        Flatten the generated contour curves and move them all onto a single level. Use Transform > Set XYZ.

This is to set up the file for laser cutting.

10.        Make a copy of the set of curves

11.         Move the 2 sets of curves into the FabLab laser cutting template.

12.        With the first set of contour lines, alternate the cut/etch

I.e. first contour line black, second contour line red, third contour line black, etc.

With the second set of contour lines, do the opposite

I.e. first contour line red, second contour line black, third contour line red etc.

Below is a small sample of the alternating colours.

Following this instruction will provide a hollow contour model like the one below:

Hollow Contour model - Top.jpgHollow Contour model - Side.JPG

Remember to think about how the sides are covered up or how would the surface be supported (perhaps with bracing?). A good solid model that you can refer to: