Laser cut all around

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #160

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

Above is a laser cut greeting card from Mr Yen Designs.

After the jump, pigeons, clocks, kings, art, and Digifabulous 2014… (more…)

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OpenDesk distributed manufacturing

Open source micro-factory turns your local laser cutter/CNC into a private IKEA

Exploring new models for open and collaborative digitally fabricated design, OpenDesk aims to become the destination of choice for modern open source furniture.

“By downloading, printing, purchasing or customising an OpenDesk, you’re helping to create a new way of buying products. One that’s more transparent, sustainable and flexible than current manufacturing models”.

With a growing repository of clever, flexible products from a number of designers, the OpenDesk model enables people to choose at what level they wish to engage with the manufacturing process.

The OpenDesk network helps create laser cut furniture from wood and other materials for less

Got a laser cutter of your own, or know someone with a CNC machine just down the road? Then you can download comprehensive drawings that are ready to send straight to the machine. Perhaps you’re not a carpenter or maker yourself but are happy with the flatpack IKEA process. OpenDesk puts you in touch with a workshop in your area, where the design can be cut and finished (oiled, sanded, polished etc) and sent to your door for you to assemble. If hands-off is more your style, there is even an option for a professional to whip it all together for you.

The idea is that the more work you do, the lower the cost will be. Of course, in many locations the OpenDesk network may not yet have makers who can deliver or assemble – so some users will be forced to buy flat-pack or arrange the making themselves.   (more…)

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Miniature midcentury furniture for your modern dollhouse

Ponoko-made project by Diana and Shamir Colloff

A few months ago, San Francisco couple Diana and Shamir opened an Etsy shop called Cufflinks Cowboy Boots. And yes, initially it sold cufflinks in the shape of cowboy boots.

But in addition to the growing number of cufflink designs, the shop has also started selling a series of modern dollhouse furnishings.

“There are only a few stores that sell dollhouse items, and almost all of them focus on Victorian-age furniture, like stuff you would see in your grandma’s house,” says Diana.

“I have three dollhouses and wanted to furnish them in a contemporary/modern style, but there weren’t enough choices out there.” That’s where Ponoko’s lasercutting service came in.

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CNC game tables and stools for Autodesk University

Play Checkers, Chess, and Go on this digitally fabricated furniture

This digitally fabricated furniture is the work of design-build studio Because We Can. They designed and made the game tables and stools in-house on a CNC router for the lounge area of Autodesk University.

Each table has various patterns and saying carved into the surface. It looks like the Checkers pieces are made with CNC as well. In the last picture below you can see that the legs of a table and stool spell “AU” for “Autodesk University.”
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Laser-cut papercraft “Lamp X”

SketchUp + Rhino + patience


Here’s another great paper project. Sean Davies designed this lamp shade in SketchUp, modified it for construction in Rhino, then laser-cut 6 large sheets of strong paper and assembled it with fabric fasteners to create this wonderful organic form. Sean has shared his techniques with a straightforward Instructable so you can copy his work.

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Kubedesign cardboard furniture

Beautiful products from a humble material.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may have noticed we have a particular fondness for cardboard. It’s cheap, astonishingly versatile, lasercuts quickly, and did I mention it’s cheap?

Kubedesign’s new collection of cardboard furniture designed by Roberto Giacomucci shows that high quality, beautiful products can be made from this humble material if it is used with care and attention to detail. I’m pretty sure the products aren’t lasercut, but that’s not to say something like this couldn’t be . . .

To get started with you own cardboard project, be sure to check out our post with a selection of useful cardboard-related resources.
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Minimising Timeframe from Idea to Product

“Form follows constrains” philosophy aids design processAlienology’s physical design output is pretty impressive.  As a designer your head space has to be perpetually filled with evolving concepts.  Time permitting, those imagined concepts become sketches or even make it to the CAD phase for rendering.  Resources permitting, a concept will result in a prototype.  However, the chances of the prototype ever becoming a product that makes it to the market are pretty negligible.

Alienology founder Igor Knezevic isn’t interested in showing half-baked concepts or even refined ideas.  Alienology portfolio consists only of products available for purchase – an outcome enabled by a commitment to minimise the time span between idea and the manufactured object. Igor has embraced on demand digital fabrication with every limb to rapidly move through a process that would have required much time and capital investment under the traditional manufacturing model.

The LA based design company embraced the Ponoko model from the onset and has used its laser cutting and 3D printing services to create numerous lighting elements, jewelry and tableware.  Igor already had experience with digifabbing technologies and had access to making facilities, but the option of an online service made it possible for him to focus on designing the products rather that concerning himself with how to make them physically.

Of course, design is never a straight forward process, and prototyping one of its integral features.  Many of Igor’s designs undergo repeated experimentation to achieve the functionality, fabrication efficiency and the desired aesthetic of the final product.  Igor has had pieces 3D printed in plastics and Stainless Steel, and for laser cut objects worked with tinted acrylics, felt and different wood materials, such as Veneer Core and Eurolite Poplar.  He makes a point of considering material quality as one of the starting points in a design, so little finishing is necessary to complete the products.  There are also some products that are designed to be spray-painted and lacquered.A few words from the designer after the jump:

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Styrene – May Material of the Month

The white knight of model makingStyrene, or as sometimes it likes to be formally addressed – High Impact Polystyrene Sheet (HIPS) is one of the most ubiquitous plastics around, even though it’s too humble for most of us to pay any notice to.  Like PETG, it’s commonly used in food packaging, where it’s thermoformed for specific applications.

When it comes to laser cutting, fabricating components for model making is where this material truly shines.  Prefab laser cut model kits are already available for the likes of railways, trucks, aeroplanes and buildings.  Styrene’s properties make it an excellent material choice for these applications.  While it doesn’t cut as precisely as acrylic, it is easily sanded or scored with a craft knife, which is perfect for leaving sprues (little “bridges” of material) to hold parts in place.  Partially laser cut parts can be easily snapped off the kit sheet and sanded back for a clean edge.  Styrene is not the only flexible plastic that can be laser cut.  There’s also PETG and polypropylene.  When it comes to model making, styrene has significant advantages over both of those.  It can be easily bonded to itself with solvents (no heat welding required), and it takes on various paint finishes so can be painted to resemble other materials such as metals or wood.  Styrene also thermoforms better than the other plastics, and thinner pieces can be formed to a mold with a hairdryer.

Styrene’s flexibility, ease of finishing and bonding have seen it used in prosthetics, jewellery and even a Vanilla Design coffee cup holder.  Some of the material’s limitations are its fragility in delicate pieces and its inability to hinge.  Any score line compromises the structure of the sheet, and applying force to that area will snap the material.  Of course, this can also be an advantage with laser cutting – using heavy vector engraving instead of cutting right through noticeably reduces kerf, while still allowing for the cut piece to be snapped out of the sheet.  This approach works with long straight lines and simple, open shapes, and prototyping is necessary for optimum results.

The white styrene can also be used in lighting design.  Its glossy finish makes it more reflective than propylene.  However, because it has a low melting point, only fluorescent and LED light sources can be used.  Featured designs (clockwise): Middle C by Sherman Warren, Lotus by David Knott, Warp by Alienology, Urchin by Fabripod, Tumbleweed by Del Jackson, Carbon by Cindy Hartnett.  Carbon is also this month’s FREE file for download.  Make your own Carbon light!

Styrene is available from Ponoko US and Ponoko NZ, and there are also US and NZ material samples to give you a better idea of cutting and engraving finish.

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Personal Factory Projects for Mother’s Day

Plus Make Your Own Mom Presents with FREE design files!

Mother’s Day is only a couple of weeks away, so we have some creative inspiration and gift ideas to get you on the path to becoming your mother’s favourite child. Few admonitions are as cutting as “I am disappointed in you” coming from your mom. Make sure you make her something wonderful this year, or at least buy her something unique that doesn’t come from a mall.

Personal ornamentation is often a popular option. Gilded Butterflies are a range of one off fluttering pendants that are as individually unique as each butterfly’s wing pattern. The pendants are laser cut out of bamboo plywood and laminated with real butterfly wings. Feisty Elle offers an impressive variety of intricately cut bamboo and 100% wool felt jewellery, with the dahlias being so well recognised that they are now being plagiarised around the world. Plagiarism is not cool. Colleen Jordan’s 3D printed miniature wearable planters are infinitely customisable by whatever is planted inside, and they are also available in different shapes and colours.

Jewelry needs somewhere to be stored. Harbinger Co don’t just make jewellery, but also create beautiful boxes for all that loot. You may be already the apple of your mother’s eye, but chances are that there are some other family members that your mom is fond of. Such as the dog or the goldfish. Familial pride and joy is best displayed photographically, in a picture frame, such as the flower one by BEDA Design Inc. You know you’re not doing your mom proud if the goldfish gets the middle flower. On the topic of furry and scaly friends, Pepper Sprout Designs make animal themed trivets amongst many other home gifts. These are laser cut from 100% wool felt.

Your mom will hopefully be happy to see your smiling face, and should that grimace require additional illumination, a lamp could be very useful. Alienology create different types of lighting, including the Bloom Table Lamp that is laser cut from Eurolite plywood. Jenny Keate’s fluffy Luminant lamp is made from a combination of wool and laser cut plywood. It has the softness of a sheep without any of the annoying bleeting. Another home frienly idea of mum is a Decoy Lab clock made from Earth friendly bamboo and adorned with a forest-full of cute animals.

The best gift is the one made by you, and we’re here to help facilitate the opportunity by providing FREE design files that you can download, customise and make with Ponoko. The Tulip Vase is designed to be flat packed and easily assembled with minimal components. All you need is a glass test tube to put water and flowers in and to give the vase structure, so no glue is required. If made from plywood or MDF, the parts can be painted, waxed or varnished, and there are a few finishing options for both US and NZ materials. The Ball of Stars by Dizingoff is designed as a 3D printed art object that can be made into a light with an addition of an LED. Mother’s Day is usually accompanied by a greeting card, so this is no exception. The Lace Card is designed specifically for cardstock, which is the Ponoko promotional material until the end of April – design something to be laser cut from cardstock and you could win a neat piece of technology. We even have a tutorial on how to use laser cutting to make greeting cards.

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Parametric voronoi bookshelf

An experiment in interactive generative design

Voronoi shelf

Inspired by the likes of Nervous System, Alan Rorie of Hero Design has created a generative software bookshelf application with Processing based on the voronoi pattern algorithm. The software allows users to determine variables such as overall size, shape and depth and then automatically generates the appropriate 3D geometry which can also be flattened and saved as a PDF in 2D for cutting out via the selected production process i.e. laser/waterjet cutting or CNC routing.generative (more…)

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