Electro-luminescent prayer mat glows when facing Mecca, a Kickstarter project

bringing the El Sajjadah to production

The El Sajjadah is an illuminating prayer mat by product design studio SOPDS. Using a built-in digital compass and user input of current location, the mat detects the direction of Mecca and lights up when properly oriented. The glowing pattern depicts the story of life and indicates a place for the feet and hands during prayer.

This innovative combination of technology and religion has received international attention ranging from a cover story in the UK’s T3 magazine to the International Inventor’s Fair in Kuwait to a recent exhibition and acquisition by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Encouraged by the global interest in the El Sajjadah, SOPDS members Soner, Bahadir, Ben, and Cat have launched a Kickstarter project to put his prayer mat into production and make it available to the 1.6 million+ Muslims around the world.

Rewards for project backers include both an A3 and full scale size prints, an actual El Sajjadah from the first production run, a customized version from our UK lasercutting partner RazorLAB, and the opportunity to work with designer Soner Ozenc on a completely custom electro-luminescent prayer mat.

Check out this Kickstarter video to learn more about the project and see the mat in action.

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Sculpture Exhibition in 3D Printed “Replicas”

Copying for art’s sake to encourage debate over copyrightWhisper Down the Lane concluded with a wrap up lecture just before the weekend, two days before its source exhibition – The Obstinate Object: Contemporary New Zealand Sculpture was due to finish, and while the last 3D printed piece was with the courier, hurriedly making its way down the country from the contributing RepRap machine.

Whisper Down The Lane is a referential art project by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith. It explores the ideas of digital fabrication with regard to copyright and reproduction issues in the world of art – a discussion that is very very slowly starting to creep out of the small tech-meets-art niche into the mainstream awareness.

Bronwyn’s project infiltrated Wellington City Gallery’s exhibition The Obstinate Object and sneakily positioned itself in a space of its own within the gallery rooms. The work is a series of 3D printed miniatures of The Obstinate Object exhibits, created with the agreement from the artists. While the 3D prints are clearly copied from specific art works, they are not intended to be exact replicas, nor are they all printed to the same scale. The miniatures are as much about communicating the digital fabrication process as they are about mimicking the general forms of the originals. The RepRap prints are constrained by the practicalities of the production method: size, material, colour and level of detail – elements that would be thoroughly considered in the original, full size works.The open source nature of the project is integral to the questions it raises – questions that we’ll be coming across more and more as digital fabrication becomes more commonplace.

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3D Printed renewable energy powered lamp

Mini wind turbine light

Architect Margot Krasojevic has created a beautiful shell like 3D printed lamp powered by the force of the wind spinning around it’s vertical axis.

The lamp is functional a propeller that uses the wind’s kinetic energy to turn it. The light is generated by the spinning of wire coils past magnets generating electrical current to power the LED bulbs. Appropriate to its shell form the design has been printed in a ceramic material that is lightweight and durable enough to spin in the wind.

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Portrait sculpture, an artistic tradition carried on with 3D printing

Sculpture created with 3D technologies by artist Sophie Kahn

The world of Chicago based digital artist Sophie Kahn is firmly embedded in 3D. Originally from Australia, Sophie trained as a photographer and came to perceive 3D scanning and 3D printing as post-photographic processes. Much of her work over the last eight years has revolved around these digital processes.

Initially Sophie used wax stereolithography for lost wax casting in bronze. More recently, she has been experimenting with full color 3D printing for which the digital model was generated using a laser scan and a photograph of a model. The final 3D print then requires sandblasting and sanding to create “the appearance of an unearthed ancient artifact.” The option of on-demand online fabrication has allowed the artist to experiment and test ideas quickly without much capital, whereas earlier work involved using large service bureaus that were often prohibitively expensive.

Sophie’s fabrication process is an involved one that expands beyond the computer screen and various scanning and printing technologies. 3D printing is often only an intermediate phase in creating the final art piece. The artist uses 3D prints for molds as part of wax casting or ceramic clip casting. She’s hoping to be able to 3D print in ceramic once it is possible to print larger objects. The goal is “to move away from plastic and towards more natural materials with longer histories”.

Sophie’s most recent project was a miniature printed in stainless steel. In this case the print was intended as the artefact.A few words from the artist after the jump:


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Veneer MDF – April Material of the Month

Stability of MDF with beauty of natural timber grainMDF is possibly one of my least favourite materials.  It has no soul, although it’s certainly very practical.  There is also something unsavory about the word “veneer”.  The connotation of falseness is ever present and is at odds with my like of material honesty.  But you cannot argue with practicalities of using a wood material that won’t warp or shrink or crack.  Besides, the veneer is a real timber – thinly peeled off a rotating tree trunk and laminated onto the MDF sub straight.   The different grains do look authentic and beautiful, and their surface can also be treated with various waxes and varnishes to both seal the surface and enhance the grain.  Check out the surface treatment options for the US and NZ wood materials.

The practical and aesthetic properties of veneer MDF make is an ideal material choice for display design and furniture.  Colin Francis uses Rimu to make engraved wineracks and similarly planar flat-pack Test Tubed vases.  The Hands shelf is by Studio Wun and is available in various finishes.

Wall art is another common application for this month’s material.  We’ve interviewed MODULA.R.T’s Donald Rattner in the past – MODULA.R.T have designed a whole customisable system of wall ornamentation using a combination of veneer MDF and colour acrylic or felt.  Otto Gunther’s approach to wall art is entirely different – combining digital fabrication with painstaking finishing by hand to produce one off pieces.

Veneer MDF engraves beautifully, and both raster and vector engraving can produce outstanding detail, like in Peppersprouts coasters cut from Cherry.  Blimp Cat Studio create custom cake toppers from Walnut veneer, and Kai Howells offers customised Rimu veneer trophies.

Even little objects like jewelry can be successfully cut from veneer MDF.  Australian designers Little Miso and Nevertheless are big fans of the American Cherry, and Bonnie Poplar uses also uses this material for her brooches, along with the Rimu.

On the topic of jewelry, this month’s free design files are for jewelry trees.  The small Swirl stand is designed for US veneers, while the large tree is designed for the NZ stock.  Of course, the base slots can be adjusted in thickness to accommodate materials from either hub.Ponoko US offers Cherry, Walnut, White Oak

Ponoko NZ offers Rimu, American Cherry, Maple, Tasmanian Ash, White Oak

Get your material samples of US: Cherry, Walnut, White Oak; NZ: Rimu, American Cherry, Maple, Tasmanian Ash, White Oak

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Laser-etched laughs — comedy meets digital fabrication

Mitch Hedberg quotes etched in panel series

It’s not often that comedians and digital manufacturing are combined, but a series from Chicago-based artist Kiersten Essenpreis does just that. In a tribute to Mitch Hedberg for the Is This Thing On? show at Gallery1988, she laser-etched eight of her favourite Mitch quotes onto timber panels.

Reflecting on the comedian’s personality and approach to his work, she came to the conclusion that a straightforward traditional portrait would not actually suit him.

To me, his words are really what he’d most likely prefer to be remembered for, so I tested out a new technique and created 8 small wood etchings of my favorite quotes.

The result is a gorgeous set of tiles that do indeed capture the wit and absurdity of Mitch Hedberg’s observations. Click through to see them all.


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Alphabet Topography

Laser cut letters say more than words

Words are a great way to send a message; to record, document or transfer thoughts and ideas. But have you ever given much thought to the letters that make up these words we use so freely every day?

Here is an interesting project that set out to do just that. Caspar Lam and YuJune Park from Synoptic Office created Alphabet Topography, where the physical forms of letters have a direct relationship to how often they are used.

“…we developed it from a desire to explore the idea of language landscapes”


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Drawbot gets illuminated

Plotting pictures with light

Having observed the Drawbot and similar Arduino-powered plotters in action, Argentinian maker acorv responded to an illuminating suggestion from his brother.

How about drawing with light? The plotting mechanism still works the same way, with a small unit suspended on cables connected to stepper motors. Software has been modified to control the light output, and images are captured using the manual mode on an everyday digital camera.


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The next innovations in CG

Can you predict the future? Have a say in the CG Society forum discussion.

Around here at Ponoko, there is often much talk about how Digital Manufacturing is our Next Big Thing. As a part of this conversation, it can also be interesting to see what else is happening in related fields. Often the developments and advances in neighbouring industries can have quite an influence on what happens in our own back yard.

Enter CG Society. An online community where many of the world’s leading digital artists get together to knock each others’ socks off. Aside from portfolios, galleries and competitions, CGS also boasts an active forum in which I recently spotted a thread asking what the next innovations in computer generated artwork will be. Not sci-fi dreamings of the distant future… but what is just around the corner.

Responses include the usual suspects of greater computing power and faster speed. But things get interesting when people talk about specific technological advances like specular lighting and motion capture that were the stuff of pipe dreams only a few years ago, yet are everyday fare for digital artists today.

Also popping up in the discussion are the more Ponoko-familiar modeling, scanning and 3D printing technologies and how to best make use of them.

The colourful conversation continues, with amateurs and experts alike sharing their thoughts on just where these technologies will be in a few short years.

via CGSociety.org

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5 fantastic drawing robots — but is it art?

doodling machines

After last week’s drawing robot story I got a bit obsessed. Who knew there were so many drawing robot projects out there!? Here’s a selection of some of my favourites:


By Swedish street artist Akay.

Four more after the break… (more…)

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