Mapping the World By Erin Nolan

:a story of topographic maps and a laser cutter

Hello again, in science this past six weeks we have been studying the weather of a the certain city of our choice with a group.  The different cities ranged from Pahoa, Hawaii to Tokyo, Japan. In our other class, PLTW, we gathered into groups based on our cities.  My city was Pahoa, Hawaii.  Each group was assigned to make a 3D topographic map.  This requires three simple steps…

  1. Trace a picture of your city (or how much you choose to include) in illustrator
  2. Cut out your city(etc) using the laser cutter
  3. Glue it all together


This may seem like a simple task  which it is in theory, but in practice, not so much.

The first step is to find a simple picture of our city.  Instead of just finding a topographic map of Pahoa, we decided to do all of the big island.  So we found a topographic map of the big island. Oh sorry, by we I mean my group; Nayeli, Cloa, and Nicole for Hawaii. After we had found our topographic map we started to trace it.  This is a simple but tedious task.  There were many different lines that we had to put onto different artboards in illustrator.  But in the end we put all of the different lines/shapes onto two different artboards to save cardboard and time in the laser cutter.

The second step is to have to laser cut out our pieces, this would have to be the easiest part for us.  We have all used the laser cutter at the end of last semester.  We plugged in our USB with our pdf of our 3D topographic map pieces.  After the cardboard had been sprayed with water, so the laser doesn’t burn the cardboard.  After pressing the job, the laser cutting started.

The last step is to glue all the pieces together, which is as easy as it seems.  I don’t know how hard it could be glue pieces of cardboard together, but it was a nice ending to the project.

This project was fun and it gave me more experience in using illustrator and the laser cutter.  I’m hoping to use illustrator and the laser cutter in my maker project.

-Erin Nolan


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