A3–2 1/2D Prototype: Airplane Dishwasher Status


Your challenge is to design and build an object that practices aspects of laser cutting that will be useful in future projects. For this project, you will design and build one of the following two 3D toy puzzles:

  • an animal (real or imagined) (e.g., tiger, dog, bear, dragon, unicorn, etc.)
  • a vehicle (real or imagined) (e.g., boat, plane, car, etc.)


  • must be cut from a single sheet of 18" x 24" chipboard
  • must not use any glue, tape, or other fastening materials to assemble
  • must be able to be dissembled into pieces that can be stored flat and transported
  • must make use of 1) full cuts and 2) etching and/or rastering

I have decided to use this project to build a plate that display whether the dishes in your dishwasher are dirty or clean.


I started by sketching out some of my possible designs. My design needs to have two sections that reflect the dishes’ current state, as well as answer to the constraints of being a vehicle/animal. After deliberating the advantages and disadvantages of the designs, I zoned in on my final sketch.

After that, I started the process to transfer the sketches onto Illustrator — to create a digital sketch.


Once I have had my digital prototype, I transferred it into Rhino, and print out an trial piece with a chipboard to test how well the pieces work together.

In my first prototype, since the cardboard was a lot thinner than the mat board, the place where I rasterized actually fell apart when the printing was finished. Nonetheless, I had a good sense of what my prototype will look like. I was also able to make sure how the dimensions I had for the prototype worked together.

After that, I used the laser cutter to create my prototype in the mat board.

The final prototype assembled


Overall, participants that I show this prototype to was able to understand the concept and assemble the pieces to represent their desired state. One thing that came up was a suggestion to make the slots a continuous slider instead of two separate slots so that the airplane didn’t have to be taken out and in each time the status changed.


This was the first time that I used laser cutter and Rhino to emulate a medium fidelity prototype. Overall, I was able to bring my vision to reality and create something functional. Rhino was a very powerful tool to prototype and ideate. While I had to spend a lot of time with it initially to learn how to use different functionalities, I was glad to be able to add another useful tools to my toolkit. I was also amazed by the speed and precision of the laser cutter, and would explore more possibilities with it.

For future consideration, I want to be able to create a more simplistic design of this idea, for example — a circle with turning knob so that one can turn into the dishes’ current state.

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