How Are Laser Cut Maps Created?
Crafting a laser cut map starts with generating a design through cartographical comparison. Laser cutting and engraving are the next stages in a process that concludes with staining and assembly by hand. Each three-dimensional map portrays the bathymetric and topographic profile of a region in layers of precision-cut wood. Find out more about how cutting-edge technology and artisanal crafting come together to create each 3D wood map.
Sourcing 3D Map Data
Laser cutters rely on vector files to create precise cuts. Each map design is based on a synthesis of as many as six maps of the same area. Rendering requires a substantial amount of time prior to starting the fabrication process. All of the following factors are considered during this phase of map design:
- Bathymetric charts
- Topographical charts
- Points of Interest
- Water features
Bathymetric data consists of underwater elevation levels that correspond to topography on land. These levels will determine how many layers are incorporated into each 3D map. Map analysis even extends to details such as the names of cities or towns, parks and thoroughfares to include on a laser-cut wood map.
Designing a Laser Cut Map
Material selection is as important as map design. Baltic Birch and other high-quality soft woods are used to create most 3D wood maps. Precision cuts are then made in wood with a laser resonator. Soft wood can be cut and etched faster at lower power levels.
Two-dimensional vector files are used to render layers of wood that are then finished and assembled by hand to produce representations of 3D space. The sublimation process involves the use of a longer focal length to cut through materials and a shorter length for engraving or etching wood. Fine details, such as points of interest, are engraved on wood maps.
Assembling a Laser Cut Map
Once the layers of a map have been cut, the wood is stained. The color of the stain used varies based on the map collection. For instance, maps in the Coastal Blue Grey Collection feature a distinctive color palette.
Map pieces are then assembled and glued in place by hand. This painstaking process gives each map a personalized touch, even though the cutting and etching of each design have already been standardized. The extent of the work depends on map size, which ranges from 13” x 20” x 2” serving trap maps up to large 24.5” x 31” x 2” wood maps.
Framing a Wood Map
Once each map is finished, it is then framed. The smallest map size set into a serving tray can be displayed flat on a surface or mounted on a wall. Larger maps tend to be framed in wood. The type of wood and color of stain may vary based on the map collection. Each map is also protected by clear Plexiglas.
Laser cutting is the most precise method available for creating 3D wood maps . The craftsmanship that goes into each laser cut map makes these pieces likely to draw and sustain the interest of observers.