lasers and light

scraplights by graypants


Laser cutters help us work with materials in ways that would be impossible or prohibitively time intensive using traditional approaches. While laser cutters only work with 2-dimensional designs, they are a really interesting tool for creating 3-dimensional designs as well. The project explores the affordances and constraints of laser cutting with the goal of creating a 3D sculptural light.

Laser cutting is the primary technique for this project, but light is desired medium. Meaning, in designing your sculptures, think about how they interact with light. There are a number of ways you can incorporate light into your project. Depending on the design, you might use a light bulb, el wire, or 3 tiny LEDs. For a different kind of challenge, try combining this project with the LED Lifeforms project to create automated, generative, or responsive light sculptures.

laser cutting

There are a few different things a laser cutter can do: cut, score, and engrave. The results are highly accurate and finely detailed and while these technologies have been around for decades, only recently have they become accessible / affordable for individual artists and designers. We “talk” to laser cutters using vectors lines and greyscale raster images using adobe illustrator or Inkscape, a free but full featured vector editor.


laser cutting basics

detailed resource on using Illustrator for laser cutting by adobe.

information and templates for printing at the LOC (laser output center) at Emily Carr 

Forms of Nature by Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz

Necklace by Nervous System

Some more ideas here!

Some helpful links / materials

Lamp Cord + Socket

  • Colorcord | very nice lamp cords with switches (pretty expensive unfortunately)

Batteries + LEDs

  • Cheap and easy! you can use watch batteries (2032) and LEDs
  • 9V batteries will work to power multiple LEDs with a few resistors in the circuit.

For Materials and Supplies, check out our resources page!

Light-based Circuit Resources

Fabrication Tutorials / Resources



Mostly of these projects are clearly beyond the scope of this project, but they are here to give you ideas / inspiration for what you can make with a laser cutter!

Laser Cut Paper Art by Eric Standley (click for more)

Image result for laser cutting fashion

laser cut fashion


In Myself by Andrey Adno (click for more)

Jewelry & Sculptures by Melissa Borrell

Paper Sculptures by Rogan Brown (click for more)

“Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha (click for more)

 Box 1, 2014, acid-free paper, foamboard, glue, MDF, paint, 10 x 10 x 10.25 in.

Jen Stark (click for more)

Image result for laser cut art

Laser-cut notepad

laser cut enclosure

Artists working with digital fabrication

Tutorials / Resources