Creating 3D objects does not always require a 3D printer. One well-known technique is folding paper into shapes, also known as origami. Related to that concept is the idea of slicing pieces out of paper and then gluing them together. Stephen Hawes has replaced the paper with circuit board materials to make a three-dimensional sculpture mask. It even has circuit traces for a microcontroller to drive some LEDs.
The process Hawes followed is straightforward. Pick a 3D model and use software like Pepakura Designer to produce the paper crafting shapes. For paper, you would print, cut, and glue the shapes together. Hawes used a PCB mill to cut the mask's pieces out of copper-clad, which you would usually use for PCBs. One additional step he took was to import specific panels into KiCad. There he added an ATmega32U4 microcontroller and traces to LEDs. The circuit paths have a decorative look to them, and they run across multiple boards. The result is a mask that, we think, looks beautiful in the light or in the dark.
Obviously, for this mask, its copper-clad boards were not folded together. Even though circuit board materials make up the sculpture, soldering did not provide good visual results. Instead, Hawes' artwork uses glue. Each edge of the milled-out pieces needed a chamfer sanded into it for a clean bond. The traces that carry power and signals across the panels did get a solder treatment to connect them electrically.
The Circuit Board Origami video on Hawes' YouTube channel shows the entire build process from start to finish. The overall project took on the order of 18 months, with most of the time spent gluing. At the end of the video, he asks an interesting question: What other three-dimensional art can two-dimensional printed circuits board make?
We look forward to seeing what he creates next.