Best way to design laser cut slot together models?

Hi, is there a software or good method to design these kind of models? or is it a lot of trial and error?

apologies if this was asked before, I don’t even know how to call this type of design…
edit: I should mention that a good software of method would include an easy way to adjust the slots width to compensate for different material thicknesses (not to be confused with the sloth’s width… he is sensitive so please don’t bring it up…)


100% - that’s called slicing (to make interlocking designs), and the adustable slots are parametric.

Any of the 3D softwares will do it - but they do have a fairly steep learning curve. You can also do it by hand, but that’s, as you indicated, much harder!

If you’re solely a hobby user Fusion360 has a free license. I don’t know if Cuttle does slicing, but it’s certainly powerful enough to (hey @tobyschachman, can you weigh in?) I know lots of folks used 123Make, but that no longer exists, Autodesk is suggesting TinkerCAD which I have no experience with.

Search those terms here on the forum and you’ll find lots of discussions!

This one may be of particular interest:


interlocking ! that was the word evading me.
thanks for the resources, I had spent many hours learning fusion some 4 years ago, I guess I will need to relearn it. I did not enjoy that learning curve…
thanks again


Because I can’t stop researching things - it looks like TinkerCAD doesn’t do slicing, but Blender does - and that one is also free/opensource.


For pop up cards, we call stuff like the sloth “sliceforms” and, there is (or, at least was – I don’t really do stuff in that style) software for making those.


My particular way of tackling would be to fire up Rhino3D.

One of the 3D models from previous Sub-D modeling session loaded…

Place an array of straight lines (curves) in front & select the array.

Invoke the menu command: Curve > Curve From Objects > Project
where Rhino3D asks for target object(s). When Sub-D model is selected, a new array of profile curves are made immediately on the model.

Isolating visibility of the new profile curves gives a better idea what’s been created.

The curves get exported as SVG (vector curves). That was all of, what… 4 steps?


There is a program called Slicer for Fusion 360 that isn’t supported anymore but still works great.
It lets you slice about 5 different ways. Now be aware that after it does its magic there will still be work do get it perfect.


One more option for you: LuBan. Free to download and play with, and you can do some things with very small .stl files. Larger files require a paid plan.

Here’s a chess piece I did in LuBan:


I had forgotten about luBan, thanx for reminding me that it exists.


Thanks for thinking of Cuttle here!

If the idea is to start from a 3D model (like an STL or OBJ file) and then generate the cut layers, I think Cuttle is not yet the tool for that. We’re currently not processing any 3D files.

This is definitely something we have ambitions to do! But it’s not something we’re working on in the immediate term.

Autodesk used to have a suite of tools called 123D that was made for doing exactly this kind of work. I think actually Ryan Alexander (Cuttle cofounder) worked on these tools back in the day when he was at Otherlab! But Autodesk discontinued this software and I’m not sure if they moved the functionality somewhere else in their suite.

I think LuBan is a good suggestion to look into. I haven’t had a chance to play with their software yet.


The Luban not very intuitive, to say the least.


Very cool and a handy process to file away in the back of my head for “someday” use :blush:


cool method but does not deal with interlocking slots, tho…

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I love Blender but I’d also posit that it’s learning curve is even steeper the Fusion 360.


Thanks James
Glad most of the Glowforge faithful possess the imagineering to see beyond the cliffs notes demonstration above and realize a few additional steps would make the idea a reality.



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