One of my schools has a bike pump track. I want to build a miniature one for our students–so they can program their Ozobot robots to race on it.
Our bike pump track is made of soil, but people use wood for backyards, etc. Before I begin, I wonder if anyone has done something like this and has advice.
The students are in grades 4-6. If I build modular pieces, they could assemble them too. Would I use a dovetail joint?
I had to google for a definition but that looks like a real challenge for a Glowforge. You could use finger joints and “living hinge” with curved surfaces and get somewhat the sort of thing you are looking for but sadly compound saddle curves out of wood are not available in this universe (I know, that was the first thing I wanted to do with my Glowforge ) I don’t know what scale you are looking for but the geometry alone will be a challenge.
If I were going to do that project, I think I would build a skeleton framework by whatever means (Glowforge could do it), then drape muslin fabric over the frame and stiffen it with a fabric stiffener or paper mache.
There used to be a free program called 123D Make that could make a laser cuttable pattern out of an stl file, but Autodesk discontinued distributing that. I actually still have an old version on my Mac that works but I don’t know of anywhere that you can get it.
The only other program I know of is LuBan (https://www.luban3d.com/), which does a number of quirky things with .stl files, including converting to a laser cuttable profile. Here’s an example:
The track does need to be smooth. And I can use markers to code Ozobots or program them. https://ozobot.com/
I would need a smooth surface, I was thinking about using cardstock–but I like the idea of fabric or paper mache.
This will take on any curve. Used a lot in theater for making hard waterproof very light masks it would do very well to make a smooth surface after using the glowforge to make the framing. Acts like thick paper/ cardboard until hit by acetone at which time it is like paper mache till the acetone evaporates at which time it is hard and strong. It is not cheap but you should not be using very much.