How to transform an existing product

IKEA product hacking gets a facelift with some custom laser cutting

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Mass produced commercial products can make a fantastic base for custom laser cut additions. This IKEA wall fixture hack by Josh Reuss was originally posted in the Ponoko Support forums Show & Tell section, and provides a nicely resolved example of how laser cutting can be used to transform an existing product.

There is more to this than simply cutting out a shape that slips over the manufactured fitting. Josh came up with some clever ways to create the full sized panel from several smaller components, while keeping all joints concealed and obscured by the pattern details.

Follow the link for a thorough walkthrough of the process that saw an off-the-shelf product become a unique, eye-catching designer item with surprising ease. (more…)

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Always on the lookout for new and creative ways to explore laser cutting, Martin Raynsford recently transposed an intricate graphic work into this striking laser etched art piece.

The inspiration came from Andrea Minini’s Animals in Moiré series, where the mesmerising concentric lines form styalized creatures full of character.

I manually traced the original image to create the vector artwork, each line is just a single low power cut.

Martin suggest that at some point he would like to see an app or plug-in that can generate patterns like this automatically. He has good reason to dream of an optimised workflow for future projects, given that it took 8 hours of drawing to recreate the 100+ individual lines in Andrea’s Puma portrait.

via Moiré Pattern Artwork: Puma

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For many of us, learning coding simply isn’t fun – but perhaps we’ve gone about it all wrong. Two former Google employees (who also happen to be Dads) saw a way to make learning coding languages fun for kids, and their solution has gathered quite a following on Kickstarter. They call their learning system Bitsbox, and as you’ll soon see, there is more to the bits than just what’s in the box.

We don’t teach our kids how to read and write so that they can be novelists. We teach them those skills so that they can be happy, so that they can be successful in whatever path they choose.

Bitsbox operates both online and as a subscription-based service that delivers boxes of coding projects in the mail to kids every month. Within minutes, kids are able to create apps that can run on a real device. The magic of the monthly deliveries is that they will keep kids hungry for more; and excited to engage with newer (and more challenging) projects as they become increasingly proficient with their coding skills.

What excites us at Ponoko is that these children will become the next generation of creative software designers and digital makers. This means that we can well and truly expect the 3D designers and laser cutting makers of the future to totally blow our minds.

Become a part of the Bitsbox community and make the most of the Kickstarter funding perks before the campaign closes.

Bitsbox via Kickstarter

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Designing the gears to fit inside a laser cut Automata

The mechanical marvels that are the specialty of Rob Ives don’t just come together overnight. It takes a lot of careful planning and prototyping to get those gears working just right.

In this recent blog post, he reveals the mechanism that will be at the heart of an upcoming Automata. This arrangement of gears is called a Geneva Drive, and it was originally used as a safeguard to prevent clock springs from being over-wound.

“…a particularly interesting mechanism. There is a little window in the background of the model. Through the window you can see a portrait of a woman. As the mechanism runs I need the picture in the window to change to another portrait, then another, then another… and so on. I need the picture to be stay still for a set amount of time then flip quickly to the next picture as the mechanism runs.”

Rob designed the parts in Illustrator before laser cutting his prototypes. It will be exciting to see the final outcome, where these gears will work their mechanical magic.

You can learn more about the Geneva Drive in an earlier blog post from Rob, which features an animation of the gears in action. We often see Ponoko users creating laser cut gears from acrylic, card and wood. Perhaps this adaptation of the Geneva Drive will get your mind turning as well!

via Rob Ives: Notes

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Arduino-driven clock that writes the time, erases and repeats

Self-declared “Geek Mom” Debra posts some pretty amazing DIY projects on her blog, and this version she made of the PlotClock is well worth a closer look.

As you can see in the video above, the PlotClock is a timekeeping device that diligently wipes away the previous figures before scrawling the current time with an erasable pen.

“There is something very human and endearing about the motion of the arms as they perform their task of drawing and erasing over and over and over again.”

Debra followed instructions that she found on Thingiverse and incorporated extra modifications suggested by other Thingiverse members. Even still, resolving the design was an iterative process that included using SketchUp to visualise how the mechanism works before sending files to Ponoko for laser cutting.

“The upload and ordering process was very easy.  The hardest part was waiting for the package to arrive.”

And arrive it did, in a timely manner. Read on to discover how she added in a variation of the 3D printed cap for the dry-erase pen, and used the flexibility of Arduino programming to customize the code to the specific requirements of this project.

via Geek Mom Projects

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