How to prepare pop-up cards for laser processing

popup card paper jpeg
Looking to enhance the logos and lettering on invitation cards, or be able to make 3-dimensional creations? Utilizing your Trotec laser, you can elevate your hobby or business by easily creating original pop-up cards, and much more!

popup card paper jpeg

Working principle of a pop-up card

With a 3-dimensional card, the interior folds up (or "pop up") upon opening both ends. To ensure the card has proper stability for standing, we recommend using a slightly heavier grammage paper (such as 150g).

Step by Step

new file and design

Step 1: Create a new file and design graphics

Follow these steps to create your own 3-dimensional effect: Start with creating a new document in Adobe Illustrator (or the design software of your choice). Once the blank file is open, draw a horizontal cutting line in blue, centered in the page (the card can then be folded together later on). Next, align your graphic elements positioned centered, and ensure that you assign red cutting lines to the black fillings and contours for engravings.


Make sure you create the document in the RGB color space.

fine tune design

Step 2: Define the cutting lines

Once your desired graphics are achieved, you can then begin to fine tune them. Utilizing your software’s editing tools, remove the center line into segments so that your graphics are covering the line. From there you are then able to erase any unwanted lines. Next, construct the “feet” that will support your card by using a blue cutting line, and break up the contour with your software’s cutting tools. During laser processing, the blue cutting lines become slightly scratched, which will then allow the paper to fold effortlessly.


By turning on the "Smart Guides" aid (Shortcut CTRL + U), your curser will then be able to snap in on the anchoring point of two crossed lines. This is especially helpful when you are using your software’s editing functions such as the “Scissors” tool.

graphics web elements

Step 3: Define the web height

The next step is to begin working on the webs, which is the most important part. To do so, draw a rectangle from the supporting foot of your design up to the center line. The distance between the center line and supporting foot is an important detail, as it defines the graphics forward projection within the card. The width of the rectangle can be selected freely, but with using the example of the fir tree, we chose a smaller width so that the web can be placed at the top. Be sure to use a minimum of 2.5mm to avoid bending within the web later on. To accommodate all three tree heights, each once will require a separate web to be created and fitted. In the graphic to the left, you can see that the webs are shown with a red filling for easy traceability.    

laser settings

Step 4: Unite the individual elements

In the final step, you will be placing each web at the top of the correlating graphics element. By removing the red filling, you are then able to replace it with a red cutting contour. Next, connect the graphic elements with the web, by utilizing the “Unite” path finder tool. To ensure that the webs are flexible at both the top and bottom of the card, blue cutting lines are still required at both ends. As a best practice, we suggest drawing the cutting lines in advance to keep the web height intact.  Finally, border the completed document with a green cutting line as the outer contour (which can be cut with a faster speed than the red inner contours of your graphics), and send the file to your Trotec laser.


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