SNOWFLAKES: Circular Pattern/Polar Array

One of the more creative operations in CAD software that allows you to design some interesting things is the pattern. Different software call the operation different things (AutoCAD calls it an array) but the operation takes a feature that you have already drawn and repeats it in a mannor of your choosing. For instance you can repeat your design in a line or a grid and for this example below you can repeat your design in circle around a fixed point. 

Laser Cut Snowflake

I am using Onshape to draw this snowflake but you can use any cad software and the steps will pretty much be the same. I am just going to draw one sliver of the snowflake and then use the circular pattern operation to repeat what I drew. At the end I will export the sketch as a DXF file so I can laser cut it out.

Step 1

Draw a 3in diameter circle about the origin, with a vertical radius and another radius 45 degrees away. Make all these lines construction lines.

Step 2

Draw a design with in the slice. This can be anything you want it to be. I chose to split the slice in two and mirror what I drew. 

Step 3

Make a circular pattern of your design (not the construction lines). Since this was drawn in a 45 degree slice repeat the pattern around your origin 8 times.

Step 4

If you want now you can add more to your design and a hole for a string to hang the snowflake from. 

Step 5

Export your sketch as a DXF so that you can cut it from what ever software you use for your Laser Cutter.

Step 6

Cut your snowflake out on your laser cutter.

These laser cut snowflakes are a great place to start designing your own things to laser cut. They are simple to draw in AutoCAD using the mirror and polar array functions and you can still get pretty intricate designs. If you are looking for a place to start, the free .dxf file of a few different snowflake designs can be found by clicking on the icon.