Turn your 3D printer into a laser cutter

L-CHEAPO conversion kit brings laser cutting to the masses

Imagine turning a desktop 3D printer into a laser cutter without compromising its printing capabilities. That’s what Matteo Borri from Robots Everywhere has done, and the L-CHEAPO laser cutter attachment is now the focus of a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign.

Capable of cutting 3/16″ wood and 1/4″ acrylic on any hobby grade 3D printer or CNC mill, this clever little attachment runs off the existing machine’s power supply and software environment. Once the attachment is set up and configured, in a matter of minutes you can swap back and forth from laser cutter to 3D printer functionality.

“you can switch from laser to printer mode and vice versa in less than two minutes, with no tools”

Why would you want to do this? For one thing, laser cut parts tend to be much tougher than the thermoplastics used in 3D printers. This means the scope of making possibilities is significantly widened, all from the one machine.

Matteo is looking out for the little guys with this project, with the goal of making laser cutting accessible to those who might otherwise be hindered by the substantial initial investment that is traditionally associated with purchasing a laser cutter.

“I hope that this allows high school shop classes, small universities and local hackerspaces to be able to work with a wider variety of materials and techniques”

He also promises that there are larger, more powerful lasers in the works. It will be interesting to see what the big brother to L-CHEAPO is capable of.

The 3D printed component is available to download from Thingiverse and you can head to Indiegogo for further info and project updates.

Here’s a little extra, just for fun. Proving that he is serious about his DIY laser cutting prowess, Matteo uploaded this geekily amusing clip of the Tetris theme song, as played by an L-CHEAPO laser cutter in action.

via Hackaday

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Laser cut mechanical Moon Phase Clock

Tracking the lunar orbit with laser cut precision

For those who need to know the phases of the moon, there are options way more satisfying than turning to your favourite Internet search engine.

This laser cut marvel was produced by Lukas Christensen as a gift for his brother, a biodynamic farmer who relies on Moon phases to plant and harvest crops.

When investigating exactly what to make, Lukas decided that merely tracking phases of the Moon would be far too easy. To add an extra challenge, he incorporated the function of showing rise and set times of the Moon. And so the Moon Machine began to take form.

Clearly no stranger to working with numbers, Lukas has included a thorough walkthrough of his process on Instructables.

Although an actual video would have been great to see, here is the next best thing – an animation of the mechanism where you can see the hand crank turning away. In real-world use, one turn of the crank is made each day.

Some of the wooden gears broke under the considerable pressure of the assembled machine at the point where forces are translated to the central planetary gear. To get around this, substitute parts were cut from aluminium.

Reflecting on the completed Moon Phase machine, Lukas has identified a number of ways to make it even more accurate should he come to attempt another version.

Learn more about Moon Machine on Instructables.

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Laser cut for mom

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #174

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

Above are Laser cut and printed wood robots from Indie Laser.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, penguins, horses, and pop-outs… (more…)

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The Kyub MIDI keyboard hits Kickstarter

The Kyub offers a six-sided twist on the usual 2D keyboard

Meet the Kyub, a compact, fully programmable MIDI interface that provides a new way to compose, record and perform music.

The Kyub features 11 fully programmable feather-touch keypads that connect to any computer or synthesizer via USB. Inside, an accelerometer tracks the movement of the Kyub to control the volume of the notes played.

These features make the interface really responsive, however the truly amazing thing is the way the Kyub is played. Check out the Kickstarter video below to see the Kyub in action:

The Kyub is designed as a kit that can be assembled at home by just about anyone, using laser cut parts from Ponoko.

If you’re short on soldering skills, you can back the Kyub and get a fully assembled unit as a reward. The Kyub is made to be as open and maker-friendly as possible, any computer-based synthesizer can be used to work with the Kyub.

If all this has got you excited for some cubed-out synth action, head over to the Kyub Kickstarter page to support the project and help make the Kyub a reality.

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Foldscope laser cut microscope

Ingenious optical device folded from a single sheet of paper

With diseases such as Malaria still causing serious trouble across the globe, there is a real need for major change in the way fieldwork is carried out.

Researchers at Stanford University’s Prakash Lab have developed a laser cut microscope that costs just 50 cents to produce and boasts performance that rivals standard lab equipment.

At the heart of a process that has been dubbed ‘Use and Throw Microscopy’, the laser cut Foldscope is so cheap to make that it can be considered a disposable device. The origami inspired pattern snaps out of a single sheet of paper and easily assembles in minutes.

“It was a hard challenge thinking of making the best possible instrument, but almost for free.”

(more…)

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The wide world of laser cut wood

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #166

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

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

Above is a fox laser cut from cherry wood from Pepper Sprouts.

After the jump, pineapples, skate decks, table numbers, and cupid… (more…)

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MicroSlice laser cutter now on Kickstarter

mini Arduino laser cutter & engraver kits

There was plenty of excited chatter when Greg Holloway posted his MicroSlice laser cutter on Instructables last year. Much of this involved people asking “where, when and how can I get one?” Well, the good news is that this diminutive digital manufacturing device is now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, and the pledges are coming in fast.

The MicroSlice is a nifty little unit. Once you take a closer look, it is easy to see why it won the 2013 Instructables Radioshack Microcontroller Contest. Imagine a laser cutter that sits on your desktop. Not impressed? Consider that it sits on your desktop, and takes up less space than a bowl of cereal. Less space than a takeout container. Less space than a burger with the lot. In fact it takes up less space than the power supply from a regular sized laser cutter.

The MicroSlice is a Build-It-Yourself kit, uses Open Source Software, and can be easily assembled at home by just about anyone.

The MicroSlice can cut paper, and engrave wood & plastic. Kits include an Arduino UNO R3 as well as 97 laser-cut parts and all necessary hardware to get up and running. The laser diode is a 100mw red laser, similar to what you’d find inside a DVD-RW drive. An option is available to supercharge the MicroSlice with a 200mw laser.

With a truly miniature work area of 50mm x 50mm (2″ x 2″) users will be choosing their projects carefully.  For bigger projects, there is always Ponoko.

Learn more, watch videos of the MicroSlice in action, and make a pledge over at Kickstarter.

MicroSlice on Kickstarter

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Handheld printing with 3Doodler

The future of 3D printing is in your hands

Launching with acclaim on Kickstarter, the 3Doodler literally puts the power of 3D printing in your hands. Consisting of an oversized pen device, it houses an extruder similar to that used in low-end 3D printers. At the press of a button, PLA or ABS filament emerges to be dynamically controlled into whatever shape you desire.

It’s a little more primitive than the printers we are used to seeing, and the outcomes tend to have a squiggly, sketchy and sculptural look about them. But if you are not looking for technical refinement or digital precision, then the 3Doodler is a really fun way to introduce makers to the concept of additive manufacturing.

Click through for a video overview from the Kickstarter campaign as well as a few more images of forms produced using this nifty handheld 3D printer.

(more…)

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Kickstarting a landmine detonator

Mine Kafon: a low cost, wind powered mine detonator

Of all the maker projects I saw in 2012, Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon stands out in my mind as the most valuable contribution to global society.  Hassani grew up in Qasaba, Kabul in Afghanistan, he is now an industrial designer living in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In his studies at university, Hassani recognised that the current means of land mine removal hasn’t had a lot of development in the last 60 years, it is still a labourous, dangerous, slow and expensive operation.  Mine Kafon is designed as a low cost solution to the problem of old, but still active, land mines. It is a land mine detonator inspired in part by childhood toys that Hassani and his friends crafted from cheap materials. (more…)

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Self taught teen from Sierra Leone invited to MIT Media Lab

Youngest visiting practitioner at 16 years old runs a radio station he built himself
At 16 years of age, Kelvin Doe or DJ Focus is the youngest person ever to be invited to MIT Media Lab as a Visiting Practitioner. Even more remarkable is that Doe lives in Sierra Leone, an African nation on the path to recovery from civil war, and he’s already an accomplished, self taught maker. Prior to his visit, he had never traveled more than 10 miles from his town.
Doe was given the opportunity to spend three weeks at MIT as part of their International Development Initiative program, after becoming a finalist in Innovate Salone. Innovate Salone’s a contest started by fellow Sierra Leone local and PhD candidate at MIT David Sengeh to challenge and stimulate young people to solve many of the complex issues of their country which has recently emerged from a decade long civil conflict. (more…)

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