Monday 14 February 2011

Model Making: Laser Cut 28mm Gantry System

After my first attempts at creating wargames scenery and buildings with the laser cutter, I have evolved several new projects to develop and take laser cut wargaming buildings further.


This one started off simply as a staircase and grew into a whole 28mm gantry system, that I plan on using in everything from steampunk and pulp games, through modern skirmishes and on to science fiction gaming.

At the planning stage I decided I wanted a modular system that I could expand as and when I needed too…


After roughly sorting out the staircase, I decided I needed something for the staircase to reach up to so I started to work on the gantry platforms and the support  pylons.




These designs are the final ones and had to go through several different versions until I was happy with them. This involved modifying the fittings at either end of the platforms, try several grid mesh designs and also playing around with the scaling to get the width correct and the railing height looking right.

The photo below is one of the earlier versions that ended up looking a little under scale for the 28mm figure  (although a friend has pointed out that it looks pretty good for the  15mm sci-fi campaign that we are planning).


When planning a project like this it is vital that you decide on the material you are going to use. I decide to go with 2mm MDF, as it gives a nice crisp finish, is very light and fairly strong once put together. Once I had chosen the material I could start developing the various joins. You have to be very careful once you start to create the various parts as, if you want to rescale anything you have to make sure that the joints still suit the material thickness (i.e. 2mm in this case). So if I decided to do a 15mm version or indeed a 54mm version, it would not be as straight forward a simply resizing the designs to suit. All of the joints need to be rescaled individually!


Once I had the basic platforms and pylons, it was time to add some variation, so I designed the octagonal platform, the cross junction and the curved platform.


You can see one of the alternative mesh designs on the octagonal platform. The curved platform was developed both as a way of turning corners and also when combined with other curve sections to produce a ring.


Why did I want a ring, well I love the Pulp genre and it is ideal for rocket platforms or other diabolical bases set up by evil masterminds!


Now if you need to get to a higher level, having a double height pylon becomes necessary. I wanted the design for this to follow the design of the standard pylons, although with the need to go around the lower level platform as well as supporting the upper level there were design compromises and several versions before I was happy with this one…


I haven’t had a chance to cut enough of the double height pylons to create a good example but here are a couple of photos that show off the possibilities:-


On the top of the left photo there you can see the lookout platform, this seemed like a logical development for wargaming uses.


Finally, as an after thought (after someone suggested offshore platforms), I also came up with an alternate pylon design.


Once I had cut enough to really start playing around I was really pleased as the possibilities seem endless.


I am still coming up with ideas on how to expand this set with new components, and also looking at ways to use the bits I already have.

The lookout platform has now developed in to a full mobile fort, which will be the subject of my next post…


  1. Wow--these are really looking fantastic. I look forward to seeing more. Are you considering producing any of the items for sale to the wargames community?

  2. Randall, thank you for the comment.

    I would love to see them in production and for sale, however, I wont be producing them myself.

    I am considering approaching some of the wargaming companies that already produce laser cut items. Hopefully one of them may be interested in picking up the sets.

  3. Would you be willing to offer up the plans to the gaming community. These sort of buildings would be fantastic for the Infinity the Game!Our local group is constantly expanding, and if you're familiar with the system, it takes gobs of terrain, and we simply don't have the time to make it from scratch. That being said, we have a fabrication lab with a laser cutter! Sadly, we don't have any plans. So might we be able to purchase just the plans from you?

  4. Fithavil,

    I am presently in the early stages of working with a company who already make and sell laser cut items.
    Many of my designs will eventually end up for sale with them, although I can't confirm which ones at the moment.


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