Tiny Windows


James D Cahill's picture
James D Cahill


I'm starting to learn the basics and possibilities of the laser cutter, and this project is looking at making very small 1:100 windows with openings. As the mullions are only 0.2mm wide, the same width as the laser cutting width, this will be quite tricky.

Next test will be on 0.8mm balsa wood. As it’s much softer and thinner, hopefully the laser will be able to move quicker and not burn away the detail.

Test 1: Setting up the drawing, as the mullions are only 0.2mm wide, to try to reduce the risk of them being burnt away, I am offsetting the cut line by 0.1mm towards the centre of the opening. I don’t think there is a way to do this automatically, so in Ethos I am drawing a new rectangle within the existing opening that is 0.2mm in height and width. This will take the centre of the cutting laser 0.1mm away from the edge of the mullion, meaning the outside edge of the laser should cut the line I want.

Test 2: As this method takes a while to set up, I want to see if there is a quicker way to do this. So, at the same time, I’ll send through the same drawing with all of the lines set to kiss cut.  Geometry was sent through on the 1.5mm plywood pre-set.  Neither really worked on the current settings. With the lines set on cut through, even offset, the laser burnt away the detail. Kiss-cut only marked the surface, not deep enough to easily cut through.

Test 3: Next test was using the engrave setting. The laser was still too powerful, although it came out with better results. Looking at the parts that weren’t burnt away, the thinnest piece that looks possible at the moment is 0.46mm on the drawing, which comes out as roughly 0.25-0.3mm on the material, however the laser hadn’t cut through. Most of the frame had cut through which was 0.66mm, and came out as roughly 0.5mm.

Test 4: Set the outer lines to cut and the details to engrave. Seems that the engrave setting just made the pieces that were cut thinner

Test 5: Only sent cut lines, no detail. Drew new boxes to cut that made the mullions simpler and thicker. Minimum thickness of mullions 0.39mm, outer frame lines kept the same. Cut lines were thicker and sturdier, though the inner mullions were still burnt away.

Test 6: Tried sending through on 1.5mm Cardboard settings using the simplified drawing from test 5. Moderate success!

Test 7: Tried sending through more detail as kiss-cuts. Less successful. There is some more detail, but it doesn’t look as good as without. I think as it’s such a light material, and that cut is happening before kiss-cut, the piece moves, and ends up looking messy.

Test 8: Re-ordered jobs list so cut was at the end, with the outer cut being the final job. Detail looks better.

Initially I did a quick test on some thin 1.5mm Plywood however the laser burnt through the mullions and just left the opening, see picture.