Laser Cut Voxels



A friend of mine is very into retro video games. He’s been very interested in toys like the recent retro Mario Amiibo:

He’s found 3D print on demand services that will make 3D pixel/voxel characters, but the prices are very high. Recently he asked if a laser cutter could slice, for example, a 1/4" sheet of opaque acrylic into 1/4" cubes which he could then glue together to make voxel characters.

Anyone know if something like that would be a bad idea? Would melting/discoloration be an issue? Is there just a better method?

Pixelating a 3D model?

Instead of cubes, you could cut entire planar slices and glue them.


Great idea!
use solvent to glue together and whip 'em out!
A laser will shine cutting 1/4" acrylic!


It would be alot of gluing but probably could be done. 1/8" acrylic cuts pretty straight with a clean edge with the 2.0 lens (Glowforge will have one) although for 1/4" it will most likely have a slanted edge.


This is the type of information that I am starving for. I have never used a laser so I am trying to learn as much as I can from the forums. I would be truly grateful if you and the other regulars who already have experience using lasers would give information about cutting and engraving. Problem areas and handy tips would really be appreciated by me. I am interested in stuff like; what do I need to do to a graphic file to engrave on wood. What resolution is best, use black and white, what about contrast. The lens info is something that I had not considered until you posted today. Anyway, any tips would be wonderful.:slight_smile:


It really depends on what type of image you are trying to engrave. Generally black engraves at full % of your power setting. If you are wanting to do photos, its a bit more involved…you need to first make it into 8 bit grey scale, then make it into a half tone or some other gradient then make it black and white…you can find tutorials for most photo editing software on Youtube. If you are engraving on dark material like granite or marble, you also need to make a negative image since it will engrave white or light grey.
Lenses have different focal lengths that work for different applications, a 2.0 lens is pretty standard and works fine for cutting and engraving. A 1.5 lens has a shorter focal length which creates a smaller beam and can do finer detail for engraving.


Do lasers usually come with more than one lens? I haven’t seen anything in the forums about lenses, but I will keep my eyes open. Thanks for the info. This will get me started learning about making a photo into half tone.


Most come with a standard 2.0 lens. I dont know if the Glowforge will support different lenses since it seems to be a non adjustable table. I have 2 larger Universal lasers that have a movable table that can be set for each focal lense. Like I said…most engraving and cutting works just fine with 2.0 lens. I cut thin mylar and need to be able to cut very small intricate detail work…thats the only reason for the 1.5 lens.


if I where to make a figure like the mario I would do a full planes and figured out a way to have the planes that have multiple tones also perhaps drop a center hole to allows a column in to crate the index so everything is lined up proper. A poor explanations but easier then having to put together 100’s of super tiny cubes with tweezers and magnifiers


I had a thought already to make something like this, but more akin to the darkness or voids that are associated with the Twilight Princess arc of legend of zelda.

I will make a portal like dark, blocky abyss and get a claw or a series of tentacles spring forth, as a miniature figurine for my weekly Pathfinder (like DnD) group.

That way the heroes would have an excuse to say excitedly, “I’m attacking the darkness!” (Points to whoever gets the reference)

I had some other blockish 2d art things that i had planned, but certainly a voxel figure is not out of the question at all. Stay tuned, when my chinese laser gets here in a couple weeks, I’ll show you some nice things. :slight_smile:


I might have to play more this son loves his blocky Mario amiibo. And hes been asking about recreating alot of his 8bit creations.


I agree with @smcgathyfay, the non-adjustable table kinda negates the possibility of other lenses being used.

A 4" lens would put the focal point below the bed (and way below the pass-through slot).
A 1.5" lens might be OK if they could mount it 0.5" lower, but, assuming the head is already designed to protrude into the material area as little as possible, mounting it lower would mean the bottom of the head would have to be 0.5" lower as well.
A 2.5" lens would put the spot 0.5" below the slot and reduce material area to only 1".


If you want to leave it up to me, I can just as easily design and run the job again, assemble and ship


Its more about the design…my son needs the practice anyway :grinning:


When I’m doing 1/4" for glue-up projects I focus the beam 1/2 way into it (so the bed is 1/8" above the focal point). That gives it a more equal spread and doesn’t seem to really “slant” or hourglass.


LightObject makes a nice adjustable bed for the K40 - should fit into the GF (hoping anyway) :smile:


I dont believe there will be enough clearance to fit in another bed…


I’m a big Dremel fan :grin:


Oh lord it’s been forever since I’ve seen that video or played that game lol.


Looks like 6 layers and 7 colors. Maybe more layers if the other side is not just flat, so on this side we have 2 layers after the toe, bump it up to a total of 8 layers then. And 8 colors if you include the clear connector to the base. Perfect to have 8 colors and 8 layers for an 8-bit remake.

You can engrave shallow wells and fill those with acrylic cement to bond parts together VERY solidly, but invisibly. But that only works for pieces sitting layer on top of layer. For things like that hands that only have same-layer neighbors, it may be hard to hide the bonding method.

Get some solid color acrylic, and this would be pretty easy to belt out. Define the size of “one pixel” arbitrarily, then proceed to place said squares in appropriate locations.

hrm… maybe I do this as my next start-to-finish project walkthrough. Well, digital finish. I don’t have any colored acrylic laying around here.