Cashing in on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Invitations

How Etsy sellers are finding success with Laser Cut Invitations

etsy wedding laser cut lovepop

Every year, around 2.5 million weddings are celebrated in the US. Chances are, the guests who attend these weddings are not being invited via text message! The traditional paper invitation continues to be the chosen method for soon-to-be nuptials.

But that does not mean they are limited to plain old (or even fancy) printing. Clever designers have been using laser cutting to create novel wedding invitations, and then turning a tidy profit thanks to the thriving marketplace for all things Wedding on Etsy.

Why use laser cutting for wedding invitations?

Familiar graphic themes from traditional wedding invitations can be reinterpreted using laser cutting with Ponoko’s Personal Factory. The delicate forms of lace and filigree patterns, floral motifs and artistic whimsies are no sweat for a laser cutter. Even better, laser cut details on wedding invitations allow for layered effects, overlays with color reveals and hints of further artwork or information within folded content.

Laser cut invitation examples

The wedding invitation is an opportunity for couples to introduce their guests to the flavor of their upcoming celebrations. Let’s take a look at a few examples that have been made available by designers selling their laser cut invitations on Etsy.

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For a more traditional approach, the floral lace effect of this invitation cover (above, left) by Dorothy Rovensky hints at the fine papercraft of past elegance while introducing a contemporary feel. Extending on this theme, the modern illustrated artwork using laser cut negative space as a decorative frame (above, right) by Lavish Laser demonstrates another approach, where the cardstock containing ornate printed text is laser cut as a secondary process.

etsy-wedding-invitation-collage-1

Setting the scene for a romantic wedding, the Laser Cut Love Story (above, left) by Celine Designs captures a moment of romance in an intimate silhouette.  The multiple folds of DotLaser’s invitation (above, center) uses silhouettes of a country wedding scene to help set the tone for an upcoming ceremony. Also envoking the special moment in silhouette (above, right) is this example from madebyloveaustralia, where additional color highlights the laser cut artwork.

etsy-wedding-laser-cut-invitation-collage-2

Laser cut invitation covers are a popular way to add elegance without departing from the traditional printed invitation nestled inside. The double floral folds from Stunning Stationery (above, left) and single fold from Cartalia (above, center) let the recipient know there is something special inside, as does another example with a modern leaf pattern (above, right) also from Cartalia.

etsy-wedding-laser-cut-invitation-collage-4

Designers and artists familiar with laser cutting also love to cut and etch into wood. These two examples from Aniri Art (above) add a playful twist with the recognisable visual hallmarks of laser cut ply.

Another technique used by successful wedding invitation designers on Etsy is to create 3D effects from slotted laser cut assemblies. We can see this technique represented very nicely with the Willow Tree Love Scene popup card from LovePopCards, featured at the top of this post.

Weddings are a time where happy couples specifically set out to make an impact as they share their big day with friends and family. As we can see from the collection of samples available for sale on Etsy, designers are catching on that laser cutting is a clever way to contribute to this growing industry. Can you think of interesting ways to incorporate laser cutting into your wedding invitation designs? Let us know how you’ll make laser cut romance in the comments below.

Modernizing Vintage Crafts With Laser Cutting

There is a certain beauty to vintage crafts.

One of the hard-to-beat old-fashioned crafting techniques is paper tole. This is the art of constructing three-dimensional images by cutting and layering elements from identical images. So essentially, you are building a 3D image using 2D prints. This style is also known as papier tole and 3D decoupage.

The simplest types of paper toles are those you’d see in pop-up books or old 3D cards. Even with just two layers, it seems to bring out an entire magical dimension to the paper craft. The more popular use of this technique is to produce a decorative framed print where the image is set in a deep wall frame and the finished product is displayed as wall art.

Vintage Paper Tole Card

The exact origin of paper toles is unknown. Traces of the art can be seen in Italian furniture in the 16th century where cut and shaped paper was shellacked to furniture. The same was used in 17th century France, where furniture craftsmen used varnish to protect the delicate paper cut designs. It has evolved into an artform called “Vue d’Optique” where paper sculptures are used to create three-dimensional pictures. The craft as we know it today, further emerged during the Depression-era USA. In the 1930’s it was common for households to receive multiple Christmas cards sold by charity agencies and contain the same image. Innovative crafters used these cards to create what is the current art form. The craft really surged in popularity in the late 70’s to the early 80’s.

Much of the focus of paper toles was on the artistry — layers were lovingly and skillfully hand-cut to create depth, contour and perception. However, since it consumes time and the complexity of the process requires a degree of skill, it has become a dying art.

Modernizing Paper Tole with Laser Crafting

 

This is where laser cutting can save the day! It can revive the nearly-lost art of paper toles by taking out the excruciating part of the process — the cutting. Now before you think that this simply destroys the art — hold that thought! There’s much more to paper tole than just cutting. This is the very reason why paper tole kits began populating the market in the 1980’s. Pre-cut kits became available to those who love the assembly process but do not have time for the cutting process.

Modern-day paper tole with laser cutting

Essentially the process is the same as in the traditional way it is done. When designing a laser-cut paper tole kit, the maker needs to look at the 2-dimensional image and visualize a foreground, a middle-ground and a background. It’s not really the cutting that makes it special, but rather the shaping. Sculpting each cut-out piece gives the entire picture a natural perspective and a touch of realism.

A maker can focus on just producing a paper tole kit instead of an entire project. The kit, in itself, is a sellable item that many will still appreciate. Once the pieces are pre-cut and pre-sculpted using precision laser cutting, assembly instructions are needed to produce the complete kit. A laser-cut paper tole kit will resonate well with an audience who wants to focus on the layering or assembly part of the paper tole technique. They can layer and glue the pieces to the provided base print with a neutral cure silicone to create the 3D effect.

Another option for makers would be to create the completed paper tole artwork and sell it as is. There’s still a growing market for precision-crafted art and laser cutting makes the space all the more exciting to explore.

How To Make a Laser Cut Wobbler

Get your creativity rolling with this simple DIY laser cut project

laser cut wobbler 1

Watching things wobble has something mysterious and mesmerising about it, and when you add in the precision of a laser cutter, the results are mathematically sublime. Building your own laser cut Wobbler is a fun way to learn about the physics behind motion and inertia, or if the how and why is not as critical for you as the what, perhaps having something novel and intriguing to roll across the table is reason enough!

Thanks to Thingiverse users Greg Zumwalt and Ella Jameson, making your own laser cut Wobbler is easier than ever. You may notice from the image above (and the video below) that Greg’s design is not actually laser cut… it has been 3D printed. That’s where Ella comes in – she remixed Greg’s design to make her laser cut version, and shared the files for others to enjoy.

Simply download Ella’s .svg files (different disk sizes have been prepared for a material thickness of 3mm) and fire up your Ponoko Personal Factory to laser cut in your 3mm material of choice.

Here is a video of Greg’s wobbler in action:

So how does a Wobbler work?

The Wobbler moves so nicely because its center of gravity remains very nearly constant while rolling along, thanks to the ratio between the slots that connect the disks and their radii. This can be calculated for any round-ish shape using mathematical magic, but if equations make you wobbly, then you can cheat a little and use the approximated ratio of:

Slot Length = Disk Radius * 0.293

Wobblers can come in a number of forms, and with the repeated motion of the disks as they roll along, there is a great opportunity to laser etch onto the surfaces for further visual impact. It is also possible to apply the same mathematics to other Wobbler constructions; perhaps the most notable example of this is John Edmark’s laser cut Rollipses.

Click through for a video of yet another stunning kinetic mathematical wonder from John Edmark, as well as a collection of Wobblers presented by Tim at Grand Illusions. (more…)

Understanding Button Design

A Comprehensive Product Design Guide to Push All Your Buttons

button design for laser cutting

Even with the prevalence of touch-enabled devices in our lives, the tactile button still holds its own as one of the most important physical design elements in a product. Throughout your day, you will encounter dozens (if not hundreds) of examples ranging from the thoroughly satisfying and highly engineered through to the hastily made, poorly molded and barely functional.

Getting those buttons right can be tricky, but thanks to design engineer Christian Brown’s Button Design Showcase we are able to get our heads around some of the important considerations that can help to ensure a successful outcome for your laser cut products.

“Buttons are a chance for both comfortable ergonomics and increased intuition in your product design… Large buttons surrounded by smaller ones indicate relative importance. A volume rocker button indicates a level going up and down. A single big red button says, ‘PANIC!’.”

 

How About Button Design for Laser Cutting?

By incorporating Christian’s button design insights with the thinking behind lattice (or living) hinges, we can use these same design principles for laser cutting. Enclosures for DIY electronics projects will often have holes or cavities laser cut to allow for the insertion of mechanical switches or buttons. It would certainly make the design a whole lot more interesting if these mechanical elements can become a more integral part of the laser cut pattern!

Laser Cut Buttons: Integrated

One way to do this is to add integrated spring elements to the surface of an enclosure, enabling buttons to be a part of the product housing itself. The DIY cellphone from David Mellis shows this quite effectively:

laser cut wood cellphone laser cut buttons

Laser Cut Buttons: Materials

Another option is to use an alternate material that can be fixed to the casing mechanically, much like is done in manufactured products. Alternate materials can include:

  • – color contrast (eg: different colored acrylic)
  • – translucent (eg: clear acrylic, back-lit for extra zing)
  • – rubber/silicone (using laser cutting and/or 3D printing to make a simple mold)

 

laser cut buttons emu caseimage source: BMOW

laser cut button 3d print
image source: roland.bz

Learn About Button Design

If your laser cut designs have buttons of any kind, then you should find Christian Brown’s Right On The Button: Using Design as a Showcase for Excellence an interesting read indeed. Gaining an understanding of what goes into the button design for manufactured products can help your own workflow, and aid in using laser cutting to its full potential.

Fictiv via Solidsmack

 

How To Make a Customized Jigsaw Puzzle

Laser Cut Educational Toys

laser cut puzzle 1

Personalised toys can make a great gift, adding something unique and memorable to show how much you care. It’s one of those things that many people think about doing, but never take the first steps to actually make it happen. Let’s take a look at how easy it can be to put together a personalised laser cut educational toy.

As you can see in this guide on Instructables, it is possible to achieve a highly resolved, professional-looking outcome even for those who are new to laser cutting. The guide, written by Ponoko’s own Dan Emery, walks through a process of creating the cutting pattern for the jigsaw pieces using Inkscape, and then building a custom map section that will become the laser etched details.    (more…)

Laser Cutting from a Galaxy Far Far Away

When The Force is strong

laser cut millenium falcon

When May the Fourth comes around each year, a whole galaxy of sci-fi fans kind of go nuts – well, more nuts than usual. It’s a fun time for these movie enthusiasts, and making models of the classic space vehicles from the original films can be a great way to share your enthusiasm with fellow fanatics.

Laser cutting is perfect for replicating the complex surface details of the iconic space vehicles, as has been well demonstrated by Thingiverse user Costaricaorca in the image above.

For others, the surface details take second place behind the actual shape of the vehicles. Once again, laser cutting provides an accessible way to replicate these forms and the following examples show how you don’t need much before it’s quite clear where the reference for the various machines comes from.

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Millenium Falcon by Killor; Waker by BillyMcCoy; and Star Destroyer with Tie Fighters by Breakfastsandwich

There are more like these to be found, uploaded by enthusiasts of all skill levels and experience to design community sites such as Thingiverse. Some have been made on laser cutters at local maker spaces, while others are zipped through during ‘spare time’ by employees lucky enough to have an on-site laser cutter at work. Another option that is accessible to all is to download files from Thingiverse and then have the parts cut in the material of your choice in the Ponoko Personal Factory.

May the fourth be with you…

 

Laser Cut Acrylic Bending Jig

Quick approach to controlling acrylic forming

laser cut acrylic bending jig

Laser cut acrylic has so much going for it, which is why this material’s variants are among the most popular of all the options in the Ponoko Materials Catalog. Designs for laser cut acrylic tend to follow a familiar pattern; boxy shapes, notched and stepped joins and slotted connections. But what happens when your form doesn’t fit this mold?

Ceramicist Chris Donnelly used laser cutting to build himself a basic bending jig that would enable the secondary manipulation of acrylic for his students at the Edinburgh Academy. Consisting of two laser cut side panels that are bolted onto a horizontal platform, the device allows for precise control across 180 degrees of movement thanks to a vertical plane that can pivot and lock into position.

Exactly what the students are making with this jig is yet to be revealed, but it’s great to see how some quick thinking and a clever laser cut design can upgrade the capabilities of their school workshop.

For those inspired to make a laser cut bending jig of their own, the Chris has shared the files on Thingiverse.

 

How To Make a Brushless Motor for Education

Exploring electromagnetism with DIY laser cut motor

laser cut brushless motor

Teaching kids about how motors work can be a lot of fun, particularly when they get to build and experiment on the motors themselves. So when engineer Matt Venn spotted a neat little 3D printed motor, he decided to make his own variation – this time using laser cut components and an Arduino to run the show.

The learning experience

Once all the kinks were worked out, the Arduino was replaced by a few cheap electronic components. This way, students have the opportunity to build the entire setup from scratch, mounting the electronics on a breadboard as they work out exactly what each component does.

The adjustable laser cut rotor has slots to hold different numbers and configurations of magnets, and this can be further extended by cutting custom rotors to suit alternate magnet arrangements.

This is a great project that encourages a hands-on approach to exploring electromagnetism by building a simple DC brushless motor. Consideration has been made to come up with a laser cut solution that can be assembled and studied within the time constraints of a science class workshop.

Matt has provided all of the files and extra info you need to get the motor up and running on GitHub, where you will also find a brief video walkthrough that highlights how the motor and supporting circuitry work.

Matt Venn via Hackaday

How To Make a Laser Cut Dremel Chop Saw

Industrialize your mini DIY production line

dremel chop saw 1

Repetitive cutting for projects that require precision parts can be a time-consuming process. The need for consistency and accuracy in making several hundred cuts from small diameter pipes prompted sculptor HTMF Metal Pizza to seriously upgrade his DIY production line.

Why not use a pipe cutter?

The usual way to cut sections from the hobby pipe is to use a pipe cutter, however this tool leaves a small deformation around the inner diameter. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but as HTMF’s process requires smooth edges on both inner and outer surfaces, the sections from the pipe cutter are unsuitable for his needs.

Solution: the Dremel abrasive disc

An abrasive disc spinning at high speed will cut with the precision that HTMF is looking for. When controlled in smooth linear movements, the cuts will be quick and clean… so armed with this knowledge he set out to optimise the cutting process to achieve greater speed without sacrificing any accuracy.

“While I tried cutting the tubing free hand, I found I needed a third hand and there was a huge variation in size which required a great deal of re-finishing.”

Introducing the laser cut Chop Saw

The solution was to build a miniaturised ‘chop saw’ mount for his Dremel cutting tool. As well as holding the Dremel and working material securely, the chop saw houses two drawers; one to store Dremel parts and another to catch the pipe sections as they are cut. He also added a scale on the cutting table that aids in achieving consistent lengths with each cut.

dremel chop saw 2

See the full tutorial on how to build a laser cut Chop Saw mount for the Dremel multi-tool on Instructables. You’ll find all the files you need for laser cutting including an adapter for switching between the Dremel hand tool itself and the flexible shaft attachment, depending on which version you are using. The thoroughly detailed assembly instructions are also peppered with tips (and supporting pics) on how to best manage the trickier steps will see you up and cutting in no time.

…and if you’re wondering what’s up with this Instructables creator’s screen name, HTMF stands for Having Too Much Fun! 

 

Animated Laser Cut Fox

Playfully pouncing from frame to frame

laser cut fox animation

The inner musings of talented artist Sarah Capon have been brought to life thanks to an animated collaboration with Industrial Designer Benjamin Donnelly.

The process started off with a neat series of drawings that make up each frame of the animation, capturing the motion and physical suspense as the fox steadies itself before pouncing playfully. Sarah’s sketches were then converted and sent to a laser cutter to be etched and cut from plywood, along with a clever support bracket designed to hold the laser cut fox frames in place during filming.

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Watch the full animation in the video below, along with behind-the-scenes footage that gives a good taste of the process that enabled this playful laser cut animated outcome.

Sarah Capon via YouTube