A new building system using playing cards

New on Kickstarter: Skallops

Skallops is a new building system by Evan Murphy, Michael Woods, and Marshall Grinstead that uses small laser cut wooden clips to hold together standard playing cards. The clips are designed in such a way as to allow the cards to be connected in as many ways as possible. You can even connect two Skallops to each other back-to-back.

The system is about as simple as it gets, which usually means it has been carefully designed. The project still has a month to go on Kickstarter, but it is already fully funded by a considerable margin.

More images after the jump.

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Ten intriguing Functional Art & Objects from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Functional Art & Objects

Whether it’s laser cutting, 3D printing, or simply craftsmanship at its finest, there has been much to be amazed and inspired by here on the Ponoko blog over the past calendar year. We’ve gathered together (in no particular order) ten noteworthy Functional Art & Objects posts from 2011.

1. Exploring the technical and aesthetic potential of 3D ceramic printing

Professor John Balistreri from BGSU talks through this groundbreaking research project, demonstrating the ability of 3D printing to create complex ceramic forms that are impossible to produce using traditional techniques. Amongst other things, you can check out how they are duplicating handmade objects by incorporating the use of a 3D scanner.


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Magnetic Levitating Sculpture

Laser cut structure suspends objects in mid-air

The joys of magnets and their mysterious ways is something we’ve all been fascinated by at some point in our lives.

This clever little desktop sculpture from ThinkGeek makes for a fun educational project and also serves quite well as a quirky curiosity item.

Using laser cut supports and a simple threaded mechanism, the device can be finely adjusted to get the small magnet hovering at an optimum distance from its metallic plinth.

The design emerged from a successful Kickstarter project and has since received geeky acclaim all across the globe. Click through for a rather unique double levitation portrait featuring a proud owner with his Magnetic Levitator.   (more…)

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What happens when everyone and everything becomes connected?

These are the beginnings of some exciting times indeed

This short film explores how connectivity is changing our lives in ways never before imagined. Through conversations with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud, we learn that there may be greater changes in the next ten years than in all of the past half-century.

“…when the light bulb was the big thing and they dug up all of NY just to be able to put light bulbs in the houses, they didn’t really see the extension of light bulbs – that you could have other electrical appliances.

We are at the light bulb stage of the Internet.”

It’s well worth setting aside 20 minutes to watch, absorb and be inspired.

via Sugru

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Next-generation electronic printing technologies

New techniques for printing antennae, memory chips, transistors, even solar cells
Printed antenna
Hobby 3D printers of the future look set to be pretty exciting, with a whole swathe of new technologies coming on stream. Above is one example: a 3D-printed antenna made from silver ink. The curved surface of the antenna makes it dramatically more efficient than the typical flat antenna you might find in your cellphone.

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The incredible Folding Ukulele from ‘maker of anything’ Brian Chan

extraordinary project made with Ponoko Personal Factory

Every now and then something shows up in the Showroom that simply astounds everyone of us at Ponoko.

And the Folding Ukulele from artist, craftsman, and origami genius Brian Chan is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.

With his design already drafted, Brian got in touch with Josh, one of our Community Support Managers, to prototype his project using laser-cutting. As you can see, the design is pretty complex, consisting of multiple flat pieces that need to fit together perfectly to create not just a 3D object — but a musical one! Josh’s reaction to project when he saw the plans? 0_0

Get ready to be zero-eyed yourself when you see Brian’s ukulele in all of its foldable and musical glory:


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4-Track: DIY Printed Robot

A unique printable robot design from Thingiverse.com
4Track by Kepler on Thingiverse
I’ve had my eye on Thingiverse user ‘Kepler’ since he released the designs for this caterpillar track back in April. He’s now strapped four of the tracks together to make the intriguing beastie shown above. (more…)

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Global Village Construction Set

Another wildly successful Kickstarter campaign: 10 days still remaining

We first came across Marcin Jakubowski’s incredible Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) back in April, following his well-received TED presentation. The concept of GVCS is one of those super-simple, too-good-to-be-true proposals that has real potential to change so many lives.

What is it all about? Imagine a modular, DIY, low-cost, open source, high-performance platform. One that makes it easy to fabricate all of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization complete with modern comforts.

The aim of the GVCS is to lower the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing. Its a life-size lego set that can create entire economies…

Like all good farmers, Marcin and the guys from Open Source Ecology have certainly been busy.

Opening their project to the hands of the public with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, things are looking good for the first set of prototypes that have been developed.

Click through for more information about the campaign, as well as a deeper look at the Global Village Construction Set.   (more…)

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Rare Keaton music typewriter

Gorgeous vintage device pops up on Etsy

There’s no Arduino board inside, no laser-cutting or CNC machined components, and it certainly does not print in 3d.

However, this 1950s Keaton Music Typewriter has much to admire. The original version was patented by San Francisco inventor Robert H. Keaton in 1936, and further refinement saw units like the one featured here hit the market in the 1950s.

Some say there are now fewer than a dozen known Keaton Typewriters in existance. Seeing this makes me wonder what other specialised technical devices are floating about. These contraptions have value not only as interesting techno-nostalgia, but they can also provide insights and inspiration for the growing numbers of DIY tinkerers making their own CNC and 3d printing machines.

Keaton Music Typewriter via Monogocoro

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3d printed panoramic ball camera

Toss it up into the air and the whole world says “Cheese”

We all love taking photos. Capturing the emotion and energy of a scene; recording a moment in time so that it can be shared with others. But if you thought pushing a button was fun, you’re in for a treat – because this camera is going airborne.

It has long been known that wide angle panoramic images are closer to what our own eyes see than conventional pictures. Yet unlike conventional pictures, panoramas usually require a complex stitching process. Issues arise such as ghosting from moving objects and full spherical panoramas are affected by the camera tripod.

Until now. The Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera will be featuring in the Emerging Technologies demonstration at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011.

Consisting of 36 fixed-focus camera modules housed in a 3d printed chassis, this not only looks different to every camera you’ve ever seen, but the way that it works is also unique. Sensors onboard detect when the Ball Camera is at the apex of its trajectory, triggering the exposure. The image is then downloaded via USB to be displayed in a spherical panoramic viewer.

There’s a video waiting for you after the break. (more…)

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