3D layered Cut Files

Hello everyone!

I just recently learned about slicing 3D models to create sliced 3D files of that model. But I recently bought a file from Etsy that was absolutely beautiful. I’d love to learn how to make my own in the same way. It was 3D layers with engraved designs as well. I took a screenshot of the actual file I bought, and the file I was looking at to see if maybe I can learn to do the same on my own. Please help by directing me to the tutorial on how to do this? Thanks so much!


Designs such as that owl are not made using a ‘slicer’, but by creating each layer manually in a design app like Illustrator, Inkscape, etc.

A slicer would convert a solid 3D model into layers, such as this simple example:


Yeah they’re generally referred to as mandalas. Someones has talked about this, let’s see if I can search it up.

Hmm @neil_burley designed one:

Aha, here’s a previous discussion all about this.


Evan has provided info on mandalas but the owl you pictured is not one. It is stacked layers with individual designs - most likely engraved - on each layer. The principles behind a typical mandala design would apply to the eyes, however.

Mandalas have a design typically with ever-increasing width for each layer, which is relatively easy to create as shown in the linked posts. Again, that owl is definitely not an example.


As I said: “they’re generally referred to as mandalas”, not that every layered design is a mandala in the spiritual sense. And this is a layered piece of art “with ever-increasing width for each layer”. The top of his head in particular is very much like many mandala designs I’ve seen with the filigree details.

The OP asked how to make something like this, I provided a link to some previous guidance.

To that end, since we’re splitting terminology hairs, might as well search for the other term that’s used too:


And the original design, if anyone wants to see it a little more closely:


I had not heard that designation either and presumed them the round patterns layered or not. :thinking:

“Evan” provided relevant information to what the OP requested. I’m not sure how whether the popular use of the term “mandala” is literally correct even applies here…?

I mean, if we’re going to nitpick, we could also discuss how the Glowforge is not actually a “printer.”


Actually, if you bought the file, you will have an easier time figuring out how to design your own just by looking at that file. I can see several layers…you would start with the back outline as the lowest part of the sculpture, then create successively smaller shapes to highlight and detail the owl in the center. Thicker areas require more layers, and the body and head of the owl is the thickest part.

That’s a nice looking piece. Would be fun to try it one of these days. (Although I’m thinking some minimal artistic ability is going to be a requirement, so that might have to wait in my case.) :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

At that price, it’s a steal. A lot of work went into that design.


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