Why laser cut ? .....
Laser cutting of materials has been around for several decades but recent developments have reduced the costs of the equipment from astronomic to second mortgage so we are beginning to see the wider use of laser cut paper, card and wood parts in the miniature world.
Laser cutters work by focusing a beam of infra-red energy onto a tiny spot around 1 hundreth of a millimeter accross. The concentrated energy makes a very fine cut which is scanned across the material by motors controlled from a PC.
The power level is varied along the cut to create detail in surface engraving or to produce webs to hold complex shapes together for easy handling. The cutting pattern is determined by a stored file in the PC which outputs the cutting design in the same way that a laser printer prints a stored document.
Most of the hardware cost is in the carbon dioxide laser and the supporting hardware around the laser, these costs put the machine way out of reach of the hobbyist and needs volume use to justify purchase.
For the commercial producer, the laser technique ensures extremely fine cutting and repeatable production however the design of the cut is not trivial, the finished three dimensional flower or leaf has to be fashioned from the paper left after the cut so a great deal of skill, imagination and experience is needed to succeed at kit design.
The great advantage over older methods is that each petal and leaf can have it's own shape - just like nature. The designer is also not limited to a limited range of hundreds of identical tiny parts, rather the leaves , fronds, pods and petals can be fashoned from a very complex cut that will combine rather than seperate all of the features needed to represent the plant.
Laser cutting also enables designers to make kit building easier than with other methods, you get all of the parts attatched by a tiny web to a main sheet of paper, so that you can keep all of the parts together and under control until you snip off the pieces you want - one sneeze is not the end of the world !