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!
De-mystifying the ins and outs of laser cut curved surfaces
For the most part, laser cut objects consist of flat panels that are either cut or etched before being assembled into a final configuration. There is another way to use laser cutting to create 3D objects from flat materials, and it uses a clever design element called a Lattice or Living Hinge.
It is more common to see makers and hobbyists using Living Hinges in laser cut wood, because the properties of this material allow for a significant degree of flex before the material fractures. There are also examples of Living Hinges successfully being implemented in acrylic enclosures, which demonstrates the versatility of this technique – because without using heat to assist bending, acrylic tends to be notoriously brittle.
We’re going to take a look at two approaches to designing a living hinge – starting with the more accessible trial-and-error method, and then diving in to an overview of the mathematics behind how flat materials can become bendy. (more…)
Laser cut mandalas, horses, ferns, and gems!
Above is a wood mandala necklace. It is intricately laser cut and etched from layers of wood and comes from the always amazing Sugar & Vice. To create this unique design you could use Ponoko‘s many different wood types, laser cut and etched with different radial patterns.
After the jump, horses, ferns, and gems…
Laser Cut and Engraved Name Tags
Attending a conference or event involves many layers of social nuance, and the ubiquitous name tag is one way to help people connect. As these laser cut and laser etched examples show, with a little creativity and planning in advance you can find all kinds of ways to make personal identification novel and memorable.
Pictured above are samples from the Engraved project by John T Kim. Although they are business cards and not ‘name tags’, the clean graphic impact of this design and the way that it has used the precision of laser etching are a good reference point.
Click through for several traditional examples plus a few that come at the idea of identification in a whole new way. (more…)
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 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…)
From pixels to iconic laser cut contours
The blocky aesthetic of Minecraft has broken beyond its digital confines before, but we’ve never seen it done with as much finesse and refinement as this coffee table by Martin Raynsford. Meticulously planned and laser cut with the help of the friendly guys at Kitronik, this is one table that has been turning heads… let’s take a look and see if we can discover why.
The final item is incredible and every time I look at the landscape I see something new in the details that I had forgotten about.
It wouldn’t be a Martin Raynsford project without a thorough run-down on how the table was made. We’ve outlined the key stages of the process here, but we do recommend flagging the full article for a deeper read during your leisure time.
Making the topographic model: As a motion sickness sufferer, Martin could not actually build within Minecraft – so he turned to Cinema 4D to generate the form.
Slicing the model: The layering was achieved using a tool for 3D printing called Slic3r. This was a good choice because the construction of the layered contour table is similar in principle to the way a 3D printer deposits material.
Adding that Minecraft aesthetic: Each layer to be cut was exported as a low resolution bitmap image, and then re-worked in Inkscape to prepare for laser cutting.
Cutting a Prototype: Knowing that going full size right away means paying big bucks while risking big mistakes, Martin started off with a half-scale mockup that revealed a number of insights relating to construction and assembly of the laser cut forms, as well as when best to paint the layers.
Full Sized Construction Once he had more confidence that the final design was resolved, the next step was to make the most of material sheet sizes. With freshly laser cut contours in hand, he then applied a clever system of alignment guides that would ultimately speed up the construction process.
The table base: Knowing better than to second-guess a good thing, Martin chose Ikea’s Lack coffee table as a sturdy base. The contour section was then designed to slip over the top so that it can be removed to separate the parts again if design changes or updates occur in the future.
Sounding good so far? Boosted by a number of explanatory images, the full (and nicely detailed) run-down of Martin’s process makes for an interesting read over on the Kitronik blog.
This process is a great example of how careful planning helps to achieve high quality results. If it looks a little intimidating, you can always start small with the Ponoko Personal Factory, and then work towards larger and more complex projects.
Have you constructed a topographic form using laser cutting? Let us know in the comments below.
Interlocking bamboo drones from Andy Shen
There’s a lot of buzz around Andy Shen’s drones – and it’s not just the hum of his multi-rotor quadcopters. Earlier this year Motherboard featured Andy’s drones in their coverage of the first ever drone dogfight.
Since then, Andy’s been hard at work on his latest drone, the Booboo. Made from laser cut bamboo, the Booboo’s lightweight frame can be assembled like a 3d puzzle without the need for any glue or hardware. This unique interlocking design makes assembly a snap, while keeping the total weight of the drone to a minimum.
Check out the video below to see the Booboo in action:
Andy got his start flying drones in 2012 as a way to take aerial photographs of bike races. As a professional photographer and an amateur bike racer, Andy was enthralled with the idea of shooting races from the air. Once he started flying, he immediately saw improvements he could make to the drones on the market, so he began designing drones of his own.
After creating his racing quadcopter from CNC’d carbon fiber – the Fast Forward – He got the idea of making laser cut drone frames from Bamboo. His first step was to get his hands on a laser cut sample:
“I was pleasantly surprised to find laser cut bamboo is way cheaper than CNCing G10 or carbon. It also might be pretty light. I measured its surface area by counting pixels in Photoshop, and comparing that to a sample piece I get 112 grams for the frame, which is right on par with carbon frames!”
Andy started work on the Booboo using Google Sketchup. “It helped to build it in a 3d program to make sure all the parts fit correctly.” Andy says, “It’s a great way to visualize things and catch mistakes.” After a night of feverishly designing, he submitted his designs to Ponoko, and had a working prototype in a few weeks.
Andy’s first prototype went through two months of iterations before being ready for production. Andy details his process of testing, flying, designing and iterating over on his blog. After four iterations and a handful of crashes, Andy was ready to put the Booboo into production.
To achieve the Booboo’s unique interlocking design, Andy needed just the right amount of control over his parts, while still having access to Ponoko’s designers when he needed them:
“On the one hand, I love being control: I place the order and I upload the drawings. I’m solely accountable for the accuracy of my order.” Andy says, “On the other hand, the tight tolerances of the job required human supervision, and I was well taken care of by the crew to ensure that the materials met my specifications. It was really the best of both worlds.”
Andy credits Ponoko Prime for helping him keep the costs of his final product down. “You can’t beat Prime” Andy says, “Prime brought my costs down and allowed me to offer the Booboo at the right price for my customers. The Booboo is only viable at a certain pricepoint, so without Ponoko and Prime it would never see production.”
I asked Andy which drones are his favorite, and where he likes to fly. “We have a few spots in the city” Andy says “and we also have a club out on Long Island for weekends. For pure speed I fly the Fast Forward, and if I want to zone out and feel like a bird I fly the Booboo.”
Andy’s advice for designers just starting out with their own product line? “There’s few things more gratifying than seeing your idea realized in a tangible object” Andy says “There’s tons of great tips on the Ponoko site, so read them all and go for it.”
Inspired to create your own product line? Make it with Ponoko!