Teaching 2D to 3D Design

In Spring 2014, I taught a workshop at Yale’s Center for Engineering, Innovation, and Design about making 3D objects from flat materials. We started with a brainstorm of various 2D to 3D methods that exist (including origami) to get the creative juices flowing. We also discussed methods of cutting flat material, including CNC machining, laser cutting, and even simple exacto knives for materials like foam core board and cardboard.


Then, participants watched our CNC machine cut out a piece for the K Chair, which fits together only through slots. Putting the chair together, the students started to realize how fun and powerful this way of making can be, and were eager to prototype their own designs in foam core.


Finally, students made custom bobbleheads made entirely of laser-cut wood. Using kerf bending, one can create a plywood spring, as shown above. I prototyped this before the workshop to ensure the springs had just the right wobble.


Students created vector images of their profile by digital tracing in Adobe Illustrator, and added a slot for the neck connection. These custom heads fit onto a simple body, and there were smiles all around as the students saw their faces bobbling around. I love the simplicity and speed of laser cutting, and it was a joy to share this with others!

Thanks to Genevieve Fowler for taking photos during the workshop!