How To Create Strength Using Origami and Laser Cutting

New structural options from everyday materials 

In recent years, the boundary between art and engineering has continued to blur with scientists and researchers turning their formidable minds toward traditional craft techniques. The results are starting to get quite exciting, with surprise breakthroughs such as the Japanese origami-inspired ‘zippered tube’ featured above demonstrating that there is still much to learn about how we use familiar materials.

This example highlights a novel process of combining thin flexible sheets of material that have precise cuts and folds in them. The location and combination of these elements enables the material to become rigid when assembled in specific configurations, gaining structural integrity far beyond the original material’s capacity.

The research that developed this construction technique emerged from a collaboration between University of Illinois grad student Evgueni Filipov, Georgia Institute of Technology professor Glaucio Paulino and professor Tomohiro Tachi from the University of Tokyo.

“…we’re starting to see how it has potential for a lot of different fields of engineering” – Evgueni Filipov

Filipov and his colleagues focus on an origami technique known as Miura-ori folding, where a tube is constructed from two precisely folded ziz-zag strips. Individually, the strips are highly flexible but when combined the resulting tube has a remarkable rigidity and controllable degree of compression or folding.

What does this mean for Ponoko users? While much of the focus in the origami research is currently centered around potential uses in architecture and for space exploration; many of the options from the Ponoko Materials Library would be a great fit for this approach to assembly and construction.

via Georgia Tech News Center


Laser Cut Self Portraits

Laser cut Frida, unicorns, boxes, signs, and a new Kickstarter!

tlc252 (2)

Above are Frida Kahlo earrings. They are laser cut and hand painted wood like‘s own Birch Plywood, and come from Ave Rose Collections.

After the jump, unicorns, boxes, signs, and a new Kickstarter… (more…)

A Laser Cut Light In The Dark

Laser cut lamps, pumpkins, chicken boxes, the Black Lodge!

tlc247 (1)

Above is an updated Hollywood Regency pendant lamp from Phil Spitler. It is laser cut from plywood and acrylic like‘s own.

After the jump, pumpkins, chicken boxes, the Black Lodge… (more…)

Laser Cut Like New, Again!

Laser cut lamps, giraffes, and gumball machines!

tlc_243 (4)

Above is the Branch Lamp. It is laser cut from reclaimed urban wood from Toronto. It was designed by LGA Architectural Partner and laser cut by Hot Pop Factory. If you don’t have any reclaimed urban wood sitting around, you could use‘s own Bamboo would work well – especially if you want to stay on the greener side.

After the jump, another lamp, giraffes, and gumball machines…   (more…)

Ponoko Customer ‘Catapults’ Past Kickstarter Goal With Ease

Another Kickstarter success using Ponoko

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 4.14.08 PM

Office wars don’t always have to be nasty email battles. Sometimes they can be fun too! Armed with this idea, Apptivus – a collective of creative thinkers came up with ‘PennyPult’.

Presenting, the PennyPult

The team at Apptivus has a successful history of designing exciting products including mobile apps and games as well as physical goods. The PennyPult is miniature siege weapon. By definition, it is a trebuchet or a gravity-powered catapult. The kit comes with everything you need to build your very own desk sized trebuchet. All you need is a flat surface and 16 pennies.

Apptivus believes the PennyPult is a step above the other trebuchet kits on the market because it’s smaller, easier to build, and more fun. Additionally, it has a unique design they claim you won’t find anywhere else.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 4.17.06 PM

The PennyPult gets its special look from the stacked counterweight design. Unlike a traditional trebuchet, the counterweight is positioned above the throwing arm. In addition to having a unique throwing action, it actually increases the throwing distance. The PennyPult can throw a projectile up to 35ft! Not bad for a machine that stands only 9 inches tall. Plus, it’s easy to load and fire and you won’t have to deal with finicky slings, tangled lines, or misfires.

Designed with precision through Ponoko

Using laser cut parts from Ponoko, constructing a working trebuchet has never been easier. A PennyPult can be constructed in less than 15 minutes and without the use of tools. It requires no glue, no sanding, and no knowledge of woodworking. The precision laser-cut pieces simply snap together. The other pieces are made of brass, copper, rubber, and acrylic ensuring you wont be disappointed with its quality.

Blowing the roof off Kickstarter funding goals

 The first PennyPult was created in January 2015. Since then, it has gone through countless iterations and improvements. Months later, the team at Apptivus had something they were really proud of. After a first production run in May and having received positive feedback from friends and family, they decided to take the project to KickStarter. Their goal was to raise $2,000 from August to September.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 4.19.57 PMYet, nothing could have prepared them for the overwhelming success they were about to witness. They breezed past their original funding goal and saw the figures increase by a whopping $6000 in just one weekend.

And with a few days still to go, they have exceeded their original budget by 15 times to raise an astounding $37,989 and the money is still pouring in.

The PennyPult is available through Kickstarter at a discounted price, with kits ranging from $25-$150. And if reading this has inspired you to launch your own hardware idea, make it and sell it with Ponoko today!

Share Your Google Cardboard Design Idea, Win Your Share of $250 Making Vouchers

We’ve giving away everything you need to create your own custom Google Cardboard

You’ve heard about Google’s VR viewer, you’ve seen the cool things it can do, and you know how to make one for less than $10 with Ponoko.

Wouldn’t it be cool to make one for FREE?

We’ve got 3 Google Cardboard Kits and over $250 worth of laser cutting that we’re giving away to folks with the best ideas for a custom Google Cardboard headset.

Google’s kit is based around making with cardboard, and the manufacturing specifications are open source. This makes it perfect for developing and prototyping your killer idea with laser cut parts from Ponoko.

Maybe one button isn’t enough for the game you’re developing. Maybe you want an oversized headset that works with your iPad. Maybe you just want a shiny gold acrylic VR headset to match your gold watch.

Whatever your idea is, we want to hear it. The folks with the best ideas will get a head start on making their ideas a reality with one of the following prizes:

1st Prize – Google Cardboard Hardware Kit + $150 Worth of Laser Cutting
2nd Prize – Google Cardboard Hardware Kit + $75 Worth of Laser Cutting
3rd Prize – Google Cardboard Hardware Kit + $35 Worth of Laser Cutting

How to Enter:

Simply describe your idea in the comments below. Include a mockup, sketch or other visual aid that shows what makes your idea great. Multiple submissions welcome.

About the Prizes:

Hardware kit includes everything you need to get started: Two 25mm diameter lenses, one ring neodymium magnet, one ceramic disk magnet and a set of sticky-back velcro strips. Free laser cutting is issued in the form of Ponoko Making Vouchers. The original Google Cardboard costs less $10 to make with Ponoko, so the $35 prize is more than enough for three iterations!

Judging Criteria:

Finalists will be selected using the following criteria, in no particular order:

  • Originality.
  • Interesting use of material(s).
  • Production feasibility and/or market appeal.

Submit your idea before next Friday, August 14th. The best ideas as voted by the Ponoko team will be announced on Monday August 17th.

Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions, or things we can assist with.

Good luck!

Update 18 Aug: Congratulations to the winners!

First Prize – Richard for steampunk Cardboard

Second Prize – Tana for a Cardboard with a proximity sensor.

Third Prize – Kevin for a Cardboard stand that allows for time-lapse photos or other similar time consuming techniques.

If you are one of our winners, please check your email for details on how to claim your prize. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

Laser Cutting On Air!

Laser cut plant holder, merkaba, lipstick, sock blockers, and a statement (necklace)…

Above is a air plant holder. It is laser cut from wood – like Ponoko‘s own Birch Plywood – and comes for Tamale Grande Design.

After the jump, merkaba, lipstick, sock blockers, and a statement (necklace)… (more…)

Laser Cutting For The Summer!

Laser cut chicks, cows, hats, cats, and koozies!

Above is a multi-dimensional poster of two birds on a swing hanging from a heart tree. It is laser cut acrylic and it comes from Red Berry Guest Book. Ponoko‘s Premium Veneer MDF – Cheery would make a beautiful background.

After the jump, cows, hats, cats, and koozies!


The Most Advanced Peanut Butter Mixer Ever

Arduino-Controlled Peanut Butter Mixer from Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder has an awesome writeup of Ponoko over on Foundry – the show and tell site for makers.

If you’re a fan of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, you’re familiar with the natural separation of oils that occurs after opening your jar of peanut-buttery goodness.

Made from laser cut bamboo from Ponoko – Mark’s Arduino-powered invention helps stirs the yummy ingredients back together for smooth spreading.

This ingenious tool not only helps solve the mess associated with mixing natural peanut butters, it’s a great example of what’s possible when you combine the precision of laser cutting with a bit of creativity.

You could say that ingenuity & laser cutting compliment each other like, well, peanut butter & jelly.

Laser Cut Play Time

Laser cut tables, boxes, crowns, vinyl organization, and a broken heart

Above is coffee table inspired by Minecraft. It is a take on the simple layered topo but adding the 8-bit pixelation for all the gamers out there. It comes from Martin Raynsford and there a complete run down on how to make it Kitronik. The materials that go into the project are MDF, birch plywood, and acrylic and all available from Ponoko.

After the jump, boxes, crowns, vinyl organization, and a broken heart… (more…)