Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Building 3D shapes with 2D cutters (part 1)

Laser cutters and electronic cutters are great tools for cutting a variety of fairly thin flat materials ranging from cardstock to 1/4 inch wood or acrylic.  One of the first things that most people do with these is to create signs.  

Not long after I loaned out my Cricut cutter to a small k-8 school, the principal found this sign on his desk. 

St. Albans City School found themselves creating  beautiful signs for their school from old chalkboards that had recently come down when the school invested in new whiteboards.

For Day 9 of my #MarchIsForMaking series, I would like to share some tools that teachers and students might use to get started creating 3D shapes with their maker space cutting tools.  

One of the first things you might want to try is to create NETS.  Ask your math teacher how they use NETS in their practice, and then consider how your electronic cutter of laser cutter might be used to create these 3D shapes. The 'net' of a shape (also called a geometry net) is a term used to describe what a 3D shape would like like if it was opened out and laid flat. A net is what a 3D shape would look like if it was unfolded. You can draw and fold nets to make 3D shapes.  ~  Learn more at 

You can find additional information about NETS and their use in at 

Most 3D software allows you to both CUT and SCORE your designs.
Some electronic cutters allow you to use PENS to create designs. 

Check out these resources for ideas 

Paper Box Template maker

Although its a bit cumbersome, this video offers some tricks for 
Using the templates found above with a Cricut maker

One possibility is to have students use their new understanding of NETS to 

Draw their own NETS using GRAVIT or other vector graphics tools

Remember that most vector software allows you to import graphics you can trace.

Just remember to trace your SCORE lines a different color than your your CUT lines.

Let's see what type of NET templates your students can make.

Cut them with paper to test them, then try them with different materials. 

Create fascinating structures as a whole class.

Check out the next post for more ways to build 3D shapes with 2D shapes.

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