How Motion Synth Became A Laser Cut Success

Motion Synth: A Laser Cut Kickstarter Success Story

AUUG Motion Synth

When the Auug team dreamed up their novel music interface the Motion Synth, they knew that there would be a great response from musicians and enthusiasts alike. Before Motion Synth, there was no integrated system that allowed for electronic musicians to interact with their instrument in a natural, intuitive way.

The innovation that makes all the difference with the Motion Synth is in the way that it combines a cleverly resolved physical interface with the robust and technologically powerful iOS mobile device range. Motion Synth consist of three elements, all working together: the AUUG Grip, the AUUG app and the AUUG cloud.

motion synth 3

The Grip is what we’re focusing on here. Laser cut from aluminium and then CNC cold-formed, it encases an iPhone or iPod touch in a way that leaves the fingers free to interact with physically defined regions on the screen. All this happens without interfering with the intuitive process of actually playing music; no distraction from whether the device is secure, or looking to see where to place the fingers.

You may think this sounds a bit like a 21st Century Theremin, but there is actually a whole lot more to the Motion Synth. A true laser cut success story, the Motion Synth is a showpiece for the integration of digital manufacturing technologies such as laser cutting with high-end electronic devices.

Auug’s Motion Synth is a fantastic example of how laser cutting gives product developers the ability to go from concept to fully functional prototype in a smooth, efficient workflow. Already highly resolved prior to the successful Kickstarter campaign, the commercial product has also received serious attention from investors on Shark Tank Australia. By working with the available technologies and making clever use of their combined strengths, AUUG founder Dr Joshua Young is breaking new ground with the Motion Synth.

We highly recommend checking out the product videos on auug.com to see just how amazing this combination of physical and electronic components can be, and you can also learn more about the product development and public funding process at the Motion Synth Kickstarter campaign.

 

 

Understanding the Difference Between Engraving, Etching and Marking

Laser cutting

Engraving, etching and marking are often used interchangeably when it comes to laser cutting. But did you know there’s actually a difference between these three terms? Don’t worry, if you use one term to refer to another, we won’t take it against you. Not many know the difference. All three refer to permanent marking on a material.

Here’s how to tell which one best describes the right laser cutting technique:

  • Laser Marking – This is done with a low-powered beam by discoloring the material to create a high-contrast without actually disrupting the material’s surface. The marking is done via oxidation under the surface causing it to tun black. It is sometimes called laser coloration or laser dark marking. It is most commonly used on metals but the charring effect can also be done on plastic materials. It is typically used for serial numbers or model codes with great application in the medical or automotive fields. Laser marking can be used on flat, curved or round surfaces.
  • Laser Engraving – This, on the otherhand, cuts a cavity through the material’s surface leaving a cavity that reveals an image or writing at eye level that is noticeable to the touch as well. This is done with high heat laser causing the material surface to vaporize. It is very precise and is often a good option for people who want to personalize or customize something. Engrving depth can vary between 0.02″ in metals to 0.125 in harder materials. You can engrave almost any type of material but are most commonly used for metal, plastics, wood, leather, glass and acrylic.
  • Laser Etching – This is really a subset of engraving, with the main difference being the depth of the cut. This is usually no more than 0.001 inch — which makes it the most viable option for thin materials and small projects such as jewelry.

Those are the basic definitions and differences between the three terms often used for laser cutting. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

 

 

 

 

New Materials: Ultrasuede is here!

One of our most requested materials is now available in the US

Ultrasuede for laser cutting

Invented in Japan in the 1970’s, this popular material is known for having a luxurious feel, being extremely durable and a breeze to clean. The fabric is65% non-woven ultra-microfiber polyester and 35%  non-fibrous polyurethane  binder. It feels like natural suede but is resistant to stains and discoloration. With the woven fabric surface, it resists pilling and fraying. These are perfect for your a wide range of laser cut products — from small device covers to fashion items like shoes or home items such as furniture pieces.

Ultrasuede – Camel

Looking for a nice new material to work with for your accessories? The camel version of ultra suede has a tactile appeal and is a darker neutral color that would go well with any clothing choice, making it the perfect material for your laser-cut accessories.

ultrasuede - camel

   See How Ultrasuede Camel Reacts to Laser Cutting >  

 

Ultrasuede – Coffee Bean

Did you know that this material is also washable and is resistant to shrinking? Sounds like its a great match for fashion items, too. Our ultrasuede is available in this lovely dark coffee bean color.

ultrasuede coffee bean for laser cutting

  See How Ultrasuede Coffee Bean Reacts to Laser Cutting >  

 

Ultrasuede – Executive Gray

This material is a great alternative to leather. It has the look of natural suede but the durability and flexibility of synthetic fabric. If you’re not too fond of the brown version, we have it available in grey. This can look great for your brand items or products that you make for executive giveaways.

executive grey ultrasuede

  See How Ultrasuede Executive Gray Reacts to Laser Cutting >  

 

Are you excited about these materials? Give us a shout in the comment box about what you plan to do with these additions to our material lineup.

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #45

In The Right Frame Of Mind – Using Customized Picture Frames as a Marketing Toolcustom-laser-cut-frames-collage9

People love to have their favorite pictures on display, and laser cutting offers a fantastic potential for creative customized picture frame solutions. By incorporating laser cutting into your design process, custom picture frames can be a valuable marketing tool for your brand.

How to use laser cutting for picture frames

There are a number of different approaches you can take, from material selection to cut path complexity and adding laser etched details. The example above from Picture It Creations shows one way to use laser cut text, this time cut from colored matte board.

Let’s take a look at a few more approaches to laser cut customized picture frames.

Incorporating silhouettes

The perimeter of the photograph can be manipulated to fit within a chosen graphic theme, creating dynamic points of interest for the eye to follow. This can be seen with the banyan trees and the Seattle skyline frames from Elise Koncsek.
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Familiar laser cut and etched details

Building a box frame using the iconic laser cut tabbed construction as demonstrated here by Lasercutouts (below, left) can be a neat way to enhance the physical presence of the frame. Another familiar visual element is the use of laser etched details, as shown in the soccer team frame by R Keepsakes.

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Stylized objects and forms

Laser cutting enables a playful creativity that can open up new directions to explore, as with the nostalgic tv frame design (below, left) from Phings and the specially designed Ultrasound Frame (below, right) from Gravi Art.

custom-laser-cut-frames-collage5

Ornate borders

Replicating traditional carved frames from different historic periods and artistic genres, The Wood Shape Store has some interesting approaches to using laser cutting for custom picture frames. Included in the mix below are two baroque/gothic style frames, as well as a deco geometric example (below, left) that consists of discrete elements to be mounted or installed onto an additional support structure.

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Delicate details

Laser cutting can be quite delicate, as we can see in the repetitive pattern design from Swirlydoos (below, left). Merging the traditional with contemporary techniques and materials, acrylic brooch frames from Emi Ko Supplies (below, right) look light-hearted and fun, thanks to the juxtaposition of playful materials and the ornate design.

custom-laser-cut-frames-collage3

Both laser cutting and laser etching feature in the numerous frame designs from HMCrafters (below). By choosing to use laser etched details, the tone, grain and surface singed wood becomes a distinctive feature that is iconic and readily identifiable to laser cutting.

custom-laser-cut-frames-hmcrafters

With the custom wedding invitations from The Redd Press Shop (below) the use of laser etched details is further enhanced by layering materials to add contrast and impact to the laser cutting.

custom-laser-cut-frames-reddpress

While many of the laser cut frames featured in this post are specifically targeted to the consumer, it is not too much of a leap to see how a similar approach can be applied to promotional products for an event, conference or particular marketing theme. Let us know if you’ve seen other great ideas for laser cut customized picture frames in the comments below; and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

 

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Customized Laser Cutting for Tech Geeks

Designing Your Own Enclosures for Electronics Projects

adafruit laser cut enclosure

Laser cutting has long been the chosen solution for many DIY electronics project enclosures, and with good reason. By building a custom case using laser cutting, you are able to protect components, give precise access to interface elements, and also add laser etched details that communicate function and branding.

We’ve previously taken a look at how to make a laser cut enclosure using Box Maker and similar plugins for laser cutter-friendly software programs. Another neat browser-based option is MakerCase (screenshot below) where it is easier than ever to enter design constraints, interact with a 3D model of the enclosure and then save a file that is ready for laser cutting.

makercase

These fantastic tools and software solutions go a long way in making laser cut enclosure design accessible for projects large and small. While a laser cut enclosure can be quite simple, the thorough breakdown by Phillip Burgess on Adafruit covers a number of key considerations and comes strongly recommended indeed. The eye-catching rainbow Raspberry Pi case pictured at the top of this post is a prime example of the way that the strengths of laser cutting can be leveraged to produce unique, desirable outcomes.

Personal projects get a serious boost from laser cut enclosures, and the next step is often to produce and sell products that look both professional and highly resolved. A notable example of how custom laser cut enclosures have helped turn personal projects into Kickstarter success stories is the Game Frame (pictured below) from Jeremy Williams.

gameframe

So whether you’ve baked yourself a techno treat with the Raspberry Pi, or created new possibilities using the latest boards from Arduino; those electronic projects can get such a boost when a custom laser cut enclosure is added to the mix.

In short, laser cutting enables customization and full control over the following design and interface elements:

Protect components: Boards, screens and connectors can all be housed securely.
Location of openings: Plugs, connectors, lights and vents can all be positioned in exactly the right spot.
Communication: Adding custom branding, labels to ports, and a bit of personal flair.

Be sure to read through the Adafruit Laser Cut Enclosure Design Overview and fire up your Ponoko Personal Factory to get the prototyping process started right away. Let us know in the comments below if you know of any other handy tips and resources for making laser cut electronics enclosures.

 

Cashing In on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Centerpieces

How Others are Finding Success Making and Selling Table Numbers and Centerpieces

laser cut wedding table personalisedfavours

Wedding guests have their first taste of things to come with custom laser cut invitations, and we’ve seen how fun and playful laser cut photo booth props entertain and delight. The all-important wedding cake has also had a romantic laser cut makeover, and today we are turning our attention to laser cut solutions for tables and guest seating.

With over 2.5 million weddings in the US annually, clever Etsy sellers are tapping into a niche market that has an eye for custom centerpiece design. From table numbers to decorative center features, laser cutting enables designers to explore creative themes that enhance the magic of the wedding day.

Pictured above is a three-panel centerpiece from Personalised Favours. Across the different panels there are laser etched details featuring the table number and also the menu, putting all the important table information into one neat package. Other popular Etsy offerings are freestanding table numbers such as the neat script from Foote and Flame (below, left) and a romance-themed numbered heart from PinkSwann (below, right).

laser-cut-wedding-table-collage-1

Also from Personalised Favours, the ornate script of these staked numbers (below) make great use of the complex contours that are enabled by laser cutting. Rather than have an attached base for the numbers to stand on their own, these can be inserted into an existing centerpiece for more height and greater presence on the table.

laser cut wedding personalisedflavours2

Acrylic, another favorite material for laser cutters, also lends itself well to the wedding table. Pictured below is a bold laser cut table number set with integrated heat-formed base from ZCreateDesign. Options for these table numbers include black, transparent, silver or gold mirror acrylic.

laser cut wedding table zcratedesign

Further creative outcomes can be achieved when combining laser cut table numbers with other functional table elements. We saw the laser etched menu earlier, and the following examples from Foote and Flame also demonstrate ways to merge concepts together. The laser cut text becomes a romantic illuminated feature when a tealight candle is inserted into the assembly, and a laser etched coaster identifies seating arrangements and also becomes a personalised keepsake for the lucky guest to take home.

laser-cut-wedding-table-collage-2

Wedding decorations are an opportunity to express personality and explore the inspired creativity that fits so naturally when love is in the air. Through clever use of laser cutting, centerpieces and table numbers can easily become a part of the happy couple’s unique expression on the big day. Let us know in the comments below how you would use Ponoko’s Personal Factory to create some truly inspirational laser cut table features.

Shopify vs Etsy: Where Should You Sell Your Laser Cut Products?

Etsy vs Shopify

If you’re planning to selling your laser cut products online online, one of the bigger decisions you would need to make is the channel. Should you sell in your own website under the banner of your own brand or on a known marketplace? Both platforms essentially deliver on the same objective – to get your product out in the market and to get you started on earning sales revenues.

How each one performs really depends on a number of factors. In this blog, we’ve covered how to enhance photos of your laser cut products and how to write engaging product descriptions. These may be factors to help your product sell better in both platforms.

What’s more important to ask is how each platform aligns with your business goals. Are you trying to test the waters with your products to see how the market will react to it? Then Etsy would be a good option for this. Are you trying to make a name for yourself and grown your own brand? Then Shopify is the best venue for such.

Let’s dig a little deeper with three points comparison that most online sellers are concerned with: exposure, customization and price.

Comparing Etsy and Shopify:

  • Exposure – Etsy is already a massive brand with its own following. According to Etsy, the creative marketplace has 24 million buyers around the world is shopping for unique items from them. Shopify, on the other hand, is a platform that lets you set up your own ecommerce store. Meaning, you are starting as a new brand that may not have the same recognition as other big brand names. This also means you need to exert extra effort on your part to deliver traffic to your own website. In this regard, Etsy is the clear winner.
  • Customization – Etsy doesn’t give you much control over how your product will be displayed – except of course for the photos and the descriptions of the products. If you’re pretty savvy with web design and have preferences over the way your products are displayed, then Shopify may be the better option for you.
  • Pricing – Now this is the crux in the decision making for most online sellers in either platforms. The difference in pricing depends on how much you will be selling. There is no membership fee in Etsy but it does cost $0.20 to list an item for 4 months or until it sells. However, there is a 3.5% fee on the sales price. Shopify has a three-tiered pricing option: Basic is at $29 with a 2% transaction fee, Shopify is at $79 with a 1% transaction fee and Advanced Shopify is priced at $299 with a 0.5% transaction fee. So at the on-set, you already see that the basic difference is in your upfront cost. Etsy charges very little to get your products listed while you need to spend more on Shopify. Calculating overall cots will depend on how much is sold. Low volume businesses actually save more on Etsy but when the orders start coming in, expect to spend more with the high transaction cost. We found this article comparing fees for Etsy vs Shopify Fees based on volume and item price: Shopify vs Etsy Fees

Etsy and Shopify each have strong offerings to laser cut makers who want to start selling their products online. If you want to start building a following or trial your business idea, we suggest going for Etsy. If you’re already confident about your sales and think it’s time to level up on building your own brand, then make a move towards Shopify. There is no right or wrong answer when asking which is the better platform for selling your laser cut items, it’s really just a matter of strategy.

How to Successfully Sell Laser Cut Products Online

selling laser cut products online

Custom laser cut products can be a huge hit if you find the right market for it. While many brick-and-mortar stores and even big box retailers might love to put your products on their stands, the cost of selling through these channels are not always the most profitable. Your margin may shrink depending on what these merchants charge per sale — these may be based on a commission or a consignment fee. Starting your physical store for selling is even more costly. There is one channel where you can find success without a lot of fees or overhead costs eating into your profits: online selling.

Benefits of Online Selling: 

Aside from the revenue factor, other benefits of selling online include:

  1. Accessibility – Essentially, an online store is open 24/7 and anyone, anywhere in the world can access it to buy from you. On the flip side, you as a seller, can operate the business anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access and a reliable fulfilment partner like Ponoko.
  2. Measurability – There are many web analytics and ecommerce tracking systems now available to give you access to information you need to make smart decisions on the fly. Find out everything you need to know about your user demographics, website sessions, conversions, cart abandonment, time on site and more — data which is actionable and can help you achieve even more sales.
  3. Scalablity – When you know which products sell best, you can easily increase stock levels, direct marketing efforts towards specific products, diversify your product range or cross-sell and upsell as necessary.
  4. Flexibility – Making changes to your online store is usually very easy. This may mean adding deals of the day, putting products up for sale or on clearance, adding new products, changing prices and more. Unlike physical retail stores, there is no need to print expensive display materials to show your potential buyers these changes.
  5. Visibility – Online marketing and search engine optimization can give your marketing budget more mileage. You can do very specific targeting of your market — from geo-location to interest. With your store already being accessible from anywhere in the world, the right marketing investment can give you even more visibility to an audience that can actually convert into sales.

There you have it, five amazing benefits you can get from selling online. We’d love to hear from successful online sellers about their experience. Please share your experience in the comment below.

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #44

Laser Cut and Etched Family-Centric Promotional Items

laser cut family birthday calendar

Promotional items that have a personal touch can become valued trinkets for the recipient, and you can’t get much more personal than with a focus on family. The diverse capabilities of laser cutting and laser etching make customized family-centric products quick and easy to achieve. As we’ll see in the following examples, materials can range from the familiar to the experimental using a number of different techniques.

Pictured above is a laser cut family birthday calendar from Zetka in Poland, who provide options for custom text and different materials and finishes. The family tree is also a popular theme, with an interpretation in ply from Dansky Arts & Crafts (below, left) and hand-cut paper from Twenty Fingers (below, right).

laser-cut-family-collage-1

Continuing the theme of family connections, the puzzle pendant necklace pictured below from AJ’s Custom Jewelry is hand-stamped, but the same idea will translate nicely across to laser cutting and etching. The focus is all on the names of each generation with Jimagination Creations’ text-based family tree (below right).
laser-cut-family-collage-2

Moving from text to images, the beautifully simple use of silhouettes from Cheek By Jowl are one of many versions on the same theme offered by these clever designers.

laser cut family silhouette portrait

 

Photographic images can make for striking laser etched family portraits. The engraved wood example from Twiki Concept (below, left) has so much more presence than an everyday photo print, and the set of laser etched leather coasters from Sweenks (below, right) enable the family photos to become a useful everyday product.

laser-cut-family-collage-3

Puzzles are another great way to make use of photos; many print services provide custom puzzles as an option, and it really isn’t difficult to go one step further to make custom laser etched puzzles from family portraits. Pictured below is a puzzle laser cut and etched in ply from Factory eNova. Learn how to make a custom laser cut puzzle with this handy guide.

laser cut family enova

The final examples are a little more experimental. For those with extra time or just the urge to be creative, an organic laser cut puzzle portrait such as this one from MoaDesu (below, left) lends itself well to being finished with a coat of bright paint or even laser cut from different materials. Food products are not a part of the selection in the Ponoko Personal Factory, but it’s still interesting (and fun!) to see the exploration from Coby Unger (below, right) where famous portraits have been laser etched onto Matzah, a crisp flatbread traditionally eaten at Passover in the Jewish community.

laser-cut-family-collage-4

Adding a personal touch by featuring families and family activities in laser cut products can lead to some really creative outcomes that are more likely to be retained (and maybe even cherished) by the recipient. Let us know if you’ve seen other great ideas for laser cut family themed products in the comments below; and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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Cashing In on the Wedding Industry: Photo Booth Props

How Others are Finding Success Making and Selling Laser Cut Photo Booth Props

laser cut wedding photobooth props evi 1

Photo booths at weddings are an increasingly popular way to engage guests with the spirit of the celebration, and with good reason. The photobooth provides a way to have a little carefree fun, all while creating lasting memories on the happy couple’s special day.

No photobooth is taken seriously unless it has a good selection of props; and through laser cutting, it can be easier than ever before to make high-quality custom props for wedding guests to use in their photo session. Let’s take a look at a few of the fun ways people have used laser cutting to produce photobooth props for sale on Etsy.

Laser Cut Text Props

Pictured above is a collection of laser cut text props by Evi Amaira Custom Decor. Laser cut text works really well in this application because it is very easy to create relatively complex shapes, as can be seen in the fancy fonts used here. Two other approaches to text are shown below, where the messages have been laser etched into the timber surface and then finished to make the text really pop.

laser-cut-wedding-photobooth-props-text

 

In these exaples (above) from Studio 38 Torquay, the text has been laser etched and then filled with enamel paint. The surface is then coated with a clear matte varnish that prevents flash glare from ruining the photos. Here is a closer look at the laser etched text with enamel paint:

laser cut wedding photobooth props studio38torquay-2a

Laser Cut Object Props

For those whose actions speak louder than words, clowning around in front of the camera often comes naturally – but for others, it can help to have fun graphic object props at hand. The laser cut wedding photo booth prop sets from Evi Amaira (below, left) and Styline (below, right) can help to create that distinguished, formal feel or perhaps add a little spice to the party.

laser-cut-wedding-photobooth-props-objects

Laser Cut Photo Booth Frames

Another great idea is to go one step further and supply a laser cut photo booth frame for guests to pose with! The example on the left from PhotoBoothProp is in the style of a polaroid print, and the wood has been painted in preparation for dry-erase markers so guests can personalise their messages to the happy couple. Featured on the right, another approach to the photo frame prop from Scrapadabra includes the names of the matrimonial couple highlighted in ornate script.

laser-cut-wedding-photobooth-props-frame

Photo booths are a lot of fun and set up an opportunity for wedding guests to share their joy with the happy couple in creative ways. Using your Ponoko Personal Factory and some clever laser cutting, the wedding photo both experience can truly become a dynamic memory maker for that special day.