Need some help? Check out our new Help Centre

3d map

I've finally did it. It took a lot of work creating the map and getting it on lots of layers of wood... but It's done.
This was one of the main reasons I pledged the Emblazer.




Now I only need to come up with a nice frame.


  • Guido,

    That is incredible work. Very well done.

    We would love to hear about the techniques you used.
  • That looks absolutely amazing. I like it.

    Would you mind doing a short description about your workflow?
  • edited June 2015
    allright. but i'm afraid it won't be short.
    be warned this was done by someone who has almost no knowledge of inkscape. there might be much better methods.

    Google maps:
    start google maps and find a place that has special meaning to you (or the people that you are making the map for). turn on the biking view so you get height lines. then zoom in until you get see the height lines.
    Of course this only works where there is a height difference. the height lines only show at specific zoom levels.
    Make a screenshot of the map and paste it in paint to make a jpg or bmp or whatever...

    start inkscape. import the google maps image. place and resize (make sure you enable the aspect ratio lock with the little lock icon)
    then you use the "draw beziers and streight lines" (blue pen icon on the left).
    you draw the road by placing the points of the beziers on the curved roads (or height lines) on the points where the road change direction (so at the point where the road switches from left curve to a right curve).
    this way you get a line with points that crosses the road wherethe road curve changes from left to right and back. do this untill you run out the section of the map you want to create. for this you might want to draw a simple box around the intended map area. then you use the "edit paths by nodes" tool. with this tool you can klik, hold and drag the streight lines and bend them to make them folow the road.
    you do this for all the roads, height lines rivers and lakes.

    Export to PDF: I used DXF file format before but that created some errors after cut2D in universal gcode sender. I used pdf export as was advised by Joel_Pereira and this gave the beste results also the imported shapes do not need fixing in cut2D

    layers: I used layers in inkscape to make sure I knew what height line was at a specific height. I also maed layers to identify main roads and small roads etc. unfortunately the export to pdf erased the layers information and I had to re do the layers in cut2d.

    scale: I tried to make the map to scale while taking into account the 2mm thickness of the wood that I intended to use. After the fact that I could only find 3 mm thick wood in my hardware store and also the fact that I had to resize the map a little since the intended A3 width would not fit in the emblazer, I let go this ambition for this project since I had no intention of redoing the map with the new scale using the tedious method in inkscape.

    Cut 2D:
    created a new file and chose the maximum size. Then I imported the pdf
    vector file and resized it to fit leaving the edges blank.
    I made new layers:
    small roads; big roads; water ways; lakes; height lines (for each height one layer). check the original picture for what height the line is. google maps only tells you 100 meters and 200 meters so the lines in between are at intervals of 20 meters. I also created and placed the map names in Cut2D

    cut and fill:
    to make the main roads more prominent than the small roads I used the offset function in cut2D to create darker thicker road without burning throught the wood.
    the lakes are done with fill. Use the layers to select the lines for the "laser cut and fill" tool.

    settings with my 3mm birch ply:
    roads and waterways and names: cut 15mm/sec 75% 1 pass
    lakes: 20mm/sec 20% 1 pass
    height lines: 15 mm/sec 40% 1 pass (don't need to be that visible)
    cutting through: 6 mm/sec 100% 5 passes

    cn files: you create a cn file for the map itself. you need to make a complete map for every height layer. also create a cutting through file at every height.

    universal gcode sender: create the map using the file that does averything except cut through. At the end of creating the map (took 45 mins for mine) you select the cutting file for the height that is next to be cut out. I know this creates a lot of waste but I had no desire to try to create seperate cut2d files to optimise the cutting in order to reduce the waste. I you intend to make the project a lot of times then this might pay off.

    Glue up:
    If all the layers are cut out and have no errors you can glue them together using a thin layer of wood glue and fitting the cut out layer onto the heigt line marking on the map.
    maybe use a stack of heavy books as clamps (be carefull make sure the wood is very stuck so it cannot shift. wet wood glue slips like grease therefore use little glue. glue as fast as you can since it will not work if it is allready dried up and some cut out pieces are pretty big. I ended up glueing the contours and smeared the eccess glue in the middle.

    sorry if the workflow is rather long. I bet you guys have pointers as how this could be improved upon.

  • HI mate, thanks for that - sounds like a mission, well done! Can I clarify your cutting details please - when you say "cutting through: 6 mm/sec 100% 5 passes" in terms of Gcode is that S255 and F360 (i.e. F values are in mm per *minute*) or are you saying it was actually F6? I'm trying to cut stuff and at f360 this 3mm MDF I'm testing appears to be going nowhere in a hurry.
  • I'm pretty sure it's 6mm/sec = 360mm/min

    6mm/min would be moving too slowly to be barely perceivable.

    For cutting 'focus' plays a big part. Although it is a longer focus process we recommend testing iterative cuts by changing the focus by 1/4 turn at a time in one direction.

    We use a piece of material that we know we can cut through. Thick white card is a good example. Once we know that we can cut through it at lets say 1000mm/min and 100% power, we do the following:

    We increase the feedrate until we are just not cutting completely through it anymore. We then turn the lens 1/4 turn and repeat the process. If the cut is the same or better, we turn the lens 1/4 turn in the same direction and repeat.

    We do this until the cut is definitely getting worse and then back off the lens either 1/4 or 1/2 turn. This guarantees we are at the optimum focus point.

    Use the pattern we use for testing materials to do this. It has a good combination or round edges and sharp corners. All these are important to determining the optimum power for a material. It can be found here:

    Once you have this focus, either place sharpie marks on the lens and heatsink for reference or place a small dab of hot glue to hold the lens in exactly that place.

    As I mentioned, it is a time consuming process but well worth it with respect to the results you can achieve. The Picengrave team who achieve amazing engravings spend a great deal of time ensuring the focus is absolutely perfect.
  • ok, thanks for the tips - I'll try that process once I sort out my base better to avoid movement and bowing etc. I had no joy with the corflute (plastic cardboard) - the vertical "walls" within the corflute appear to be quite resistant to burning through. I assume because once it melts a bit the laser is hitting the melted thin top of the wall and deflecting one way or the other. Totally torched the front and back of the panel, but the walls remain ;-) Live and learn...
  • We have noticed the same thing and think it is also partially due to re-joining of the molten plastic.

    We are working on an air-assist system that may help with this. More to come in the following weeks on this.
  • I can confirm Steven Stanley that 5 to 6 passes at 300mm/min will cut through MDF and that focus is the biggest factor. I started with the lens barely scewed into the head and used the quarter turn method. When you first start a test file the cut line is quite broad and unsharp with the edges burnt. I just keep adjusting util I get the sharpest cut line and jobs done. Re bowing of base plate, I sat my unit on a piece of 12mm mdf cut to size so the base feet hang over the edge of it.
Sign In or Register to comment.