Features for laser cutting design

A few questions on features that would make Shapr3D great for designing for laser cutting pieces that will be assembled into 3d objects.

I’ve watched a bunch of videos and scoured forums, but am not an active user yet so please forgive any ignorance.

Here’s my wish list. Would love to know which of these are possible now or on your near-term roadmap:

  1. Interpolate x copies: Make an object, then copy it and make limited modifications to the copy (stretch it, move some vertices, etc). Then select both and ask Shapr3D to interpolate additional copies, specifying how many copies (steps of interpolation). This basically the 3D equivalent of the “make blend” function in Illustrator.

  2. Copy and translate/rotate: In this Shapr3D tutorial video “creating the fins - electric motor” it shows creating one fin, then manually copying, rotating, copying, rotating. For designing quickly and iterating, it would be very helpful to automate that so you can specify number of copies and how many degrees to rotate per copy, and/or how many mm to translate per copy along a given axis.

  3. Instances of a master object: Continuing with the fins in #2, could all the copies retain a connection to the original, so when you edit the original, all the copies update too. Similar to what Sketchup does with copied objects until you tell it to “make unique”.

  4. Export faces to 2d file: For laser cutting, designing in 3D helps to visualize the material thickness as you work with angles and notches and spatial relationships to get all the design right, but then you need to get all those pieces back to a 2D format to feed to the laser cutter. The best example I found of this functionality is this video demo of a Sketchup plugin: “Export Faces to SVG” where you can manually select individual flat faces of a bunch of objects, then export all of those, and regardless of the angles those objects are at in the 3D file, it knows how to orient them all into a single 2D plane (janky demo but it does show it working: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe2PkRSlLCI).
    –It’d be even better if there was an option to skip the manual step and export one flat surface from each object (assuming all the pieces are flat extruded designs so it’s pretty easy to tell which faces are the design).

Thanks so much!

Shapr3D is amazing, really nice work!
If it can do things like these, I’ll go buy an ipad pro this week and get started!

Jesse Kocher


Hello @jesseko,

I have the same needs, talked with the team and they are doing some steps in this direction. AFAIK none of these are possible at the moment.

I upvote expecially feature 4, Export faces to 2d file, this is a great idea (!) that would improve a lot my working routine, but first of all they have to implement SVG import/export engine as this is a very popular request.

Keep your eyes on the forum and support the ideas you like, because I’ve seen the team is doing a great job to listen to and fulfill the community needs.


Thanks @Claudio!

Yes, #4, Export faces to 2d file is definitely the most critical.

Do you know if there’s a workflow that could accomplish that, starting with one of Shapr3D’s export formats and then using another tool to select surfaces and export them to SVG?

It looks like Sketchup can import STL files, but I see that those are just triangle meshes so I don’t know if it would understand them well enough to select whole surfaces for export.

I’d be open to picking up a different piece of software to do that as long as it worked well enough and isn’t crazy expensive, but don’t know which, if any, could do it.


1 Like

Well, so far I am accomplishing that by rotating each piece by 90°, in order to have all the faces on the same plane, and translating the pieces to eliminate overlappings. When all the faces I need to cut are visibile from the same plane, I export the file in STEP format and convert it into “Flattened SVG” with tools like FreeCAD or MoI (even Fusion will do the conversion but requires a subscription). Then I import the SVG into Graphic on my iPad again and select only the faces I need. This sometimes requires more work on the compound paths in order to separate the holes, and then join the edges to have it ready for CNC. It’s a very and plodding and time-consuming activity, especially if you are in a routine to improve the 3D design and optimize the 2D frames.

1 Like

Wow, yeah, that’s pretty serious process. Thanks for writing it up and sharing!

I’ll have some models where a lot of pieces aren’t at simple 90 degree relationships to any of the 3 axes, so that first step might get tougher but still doable. The rest seems like it could all work, but, like you say, not so good if you want to iterate on the design in the 3D space.

Thanks again.
Really hope the Shapr folks will add some nice surface exporting to eliminate most of those steps.

And yes, I’ll keep an eye on the forums and upvote related things :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’d love to see these features, especially the 2d file export. My primary use would be with a CNC cutting wood and a laser cutter engraving, and this would be a huge benefit. Being able to slice an object into defined layers of a specific thickness would help too (like 1/4" high slices, exporting the faces for each slice. This allows the model to be cut on a laser cutter and assembled)

1 Like

2D Export would be lovely. Just trying out Shapr3D this week and it seems amazing. I have been experimenting with the Shaper Origin CNC machine (also great) and the ability to translate faces into 2D SVG files would make for a really, really great workflow for this and other specific uses I have in mind for using the app.

1 Like

I’m gonna jump on the “export faces to svg” (with Shaper’s color encoding as an option) bandwagon. I have a Shaper Origin and would really like to be able to do everything on my iPad Pro. I REALLY hope this feature gets priority!

Keeping my fingers crossed!

Best Regards,


1 Like

This is really interesting - can you show me an ideal SVG import for a body? I would like to better understand your needs.

Shaper publishes a description of the SVG encodings: https://support.shapertools.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002721473-Cut-Type-Encoding

For some reason this forum site isn’t allowing me to upload an SVG file. Granted I’ll doing it from an iPhone. I’ll try from a MacBook in a subsequent post


Perhaps the best way to explore would be to run Sketchup with the FaceSVG plugin and watch what it does. It also does automatic dog-boning for corners. https://extensions.sketchup.com/en/content/svg-face-export-compatible-shaper-origin

Istvan, was this helpful?

I think I still don’t fully understand. Basically what you would need is to export the contour of each face of a body to an SVG file?

So the Shaper Origin only handles flat surfaces. So it would be restricted to planar geometry. So imagine you’ve modeled a rectangular box in 3D. If the outline (contour?) of each side is exported as an SVG, the Shaper can use it to cut the shape.

The Shaper Origin can also understand things like pocket cuts (where the cut doesn’t go completely through the material). The exporting software figures this out and colors the SVG path appropriately.

Wish I could just do a demo. Would clear things up easily.

Ah ok, now I understand, so basically you would only need the outlines of the planar faces. I see. I guess DXF/DWG would work as well, right?

(Shaper Support: this is a conversation with the folks at Shapr3D on adding SO SVG export to their iPad app. Multiple folks would like to be able to use our kick ass iPad Pros and Apple :pen: in the field with our SO!)

Well. Outlines and any internal cut features :-). Shaper Origin (SO) can do multi-depth pockets and path cuts so you have to consider those too. Unlike a gantry CNC the SO cannot yet modulate the z-axis while cutting. When you start a cut for a particular closed path or line the depth is set to whatever you input on the screen (quite accurately I might add). If an SVG path is encoded (colored) as “pocket” the SO enters a mode where it no longer cares about cut direction allowing you to hog out the material as you wish. The color codes are just hints as you still go back to “inside” cut mode to do the final finishing cut of the pocket. The SO figures out correct cutting direction when “inside” and “outside” modes are active for a path (again, user overridable at cut time)

Nope. SVG is the native and only format the Shaper Origin understands. The Shaper packs an onboard computer with limited resources. It’s unclear what internals it’s running. They’ve done a good job of hiding their implementation.

Bottom line is it’s got to be a well formed SVG with correct units (inches, mm) specified. Nice SO files also correctly color encode paths as “inside”, “outside”, “pocket” etc.

I’m happy to keep answering questions. The folks at Shaper Tools are pretty friendly and helpful too and would probably be very interested in helping make this happen.

1 Like

I think I’d just like to add “me too” to this thread. I’d love to see well thought out support for 2D laser cutters. My main interest is making things for model railways. Even at N scale (1:148) 3D prints are horrifically expensive. Laser cutters do support partial depth cuts, so the ability to define depth in the Z direction is important - so it is not entirely 2D.

Hi guys, I’m just a metalworker and I don’t really understand most of what’s being discussed here, but for my part I need to export 2d planes from my designs as a dxf for my laser cutter guy. Sometimes a design calls for a fold in a piece of sheet metal. Is there a way I can design it in 3D and fold it out flat as on piece for my laser cutter?

1 Like


I’m trying to create 2D designs to be exported as DXF/DWG for use on BigBlueSaw.com. Shapr3D allows me to whip up the design super quick, but once I have a body I can’t seem to do anything with it. I’ve tried exporting as .OBJ, but I can’t find any tools on the Mac that allow me to easily export just a face from the model. Would absolutely love this ability!