Second round for UGEARS self-propelled mechanical models

Extraordinary laser cut machines 

ugears laser cut loco

Having already received a tremendous response to their original Kickstarter campaign, the team from Ugears are not resting on their laurels… they’ve hit the ground running with a 40% increase in production capacity and the enquiries keep on flooding in. So for those who love to marvel at laser cut mechanical wonders, you still have a chance to jump on board the Kickstarter train with a time-limited second round campaign.

Be quick though, because the promo-priced gears stop rolling on January 12!

Who are UGEARS?

Watch the video below to see what UGEARS is all about. You may think you’ve seen impressive laser cut mechanical devices before, but these guys take it to the next level and beyond. Imagine what would happen if you merged the finicky precision of a Swiss watchmaker with a Dad’s club of enthusiastic 21st-century digital makers. A true labor of love, the first model took two years to develop before it was considered ready for production. During this time, the ideas kept flowing and the result is a growing collection of additional products from a tractor to a working safe, a timer to a model dynamometer and no less than 8 other fully functional laser cut plywood whimsies in between.

“Mechanisms have become so tiny. They are hidden so deep inside things that people do not see the whole beauty of rotating gears anymore. What if anybody could get a chance to create a mechanism?”

The second-chance Kickstarter campaign concludes on January 12, and then once the dust has settled, the official UGEARS store will open for business around mid-2016. So if you can’t wait until then, make a pledge on Kickstarter before it’s too late.

Also, it’s good to see these guys are steadily working through their long list of ideas for future mechanical marvels. Head to the UGEARS Instagram for a taste of what they are working on.

UGEARS via Kickstarter

How To Make Laser Cut Interlocking Acrylic Designs

The Importance of Radii

We’ve written about using ‘nodes’ with 3D objects made from wood before, but suggested it may not work for acrylic because it is more brittle and tends to be less forgiving.

However, after working with Drownspire to develop their Vambit toy into a product for a giveaway at Makerfaire, it soon became apparent that you can successfully use nodes when making with acrylic.

Nodes in Acrylic: Two tricks to getting it right

Firstly the nodes need to be a bit smaller; something in the realm of <0.15mm/0.006″ on each side. This means they won’t cover the same range as when used in wood but they still remain a good option.

Secondly, how you treat the end of the slot is the key. If you have a sharp corner, which is typical in a laser cut slot, the acrylic will always fracture at that point. See this example:

Effectively a sharp corner is creating a weak point in the acrylic. Not such a good thing when this is an important structural part of the design! A small radius in that corner can do wonders to transfer the forces from one face of the hole or slot to the other, and reduces the risk of the material splitting at the corner.

How large should they be?

The larger the radii the stronger it will be so you will need to make an aesthetic decision on how big you can go. On the Vambit the radii was tiny, at just 0.26mm, and it was enough to make a noticeable difference. We suggest aiming for 0.5mm and greater if your design will allow it.

Where to place the nodes

Another trick to keep in mind is putting the nodes on a part of the design where you can guarantee the length. That way you don’t need to bet on the thickness changing and the range of variation is a lot smaller. This occurs when you have 2 edges that are cut by the laser that are the friction edges. This works if you are using tabs but is not necessarily the case if you are using a slotting joint.

For example, in the design of this spinning top Dan put the nodes on the tab as opposed to on the slot.

The tabs on the triangle parts fit into the slots on the circle part. Dimension X and Y will be the same each time as cut by the laser, therefore he put the nodes on these parts. Had the nodes been positioned on the slot for the handle (as in diagram below), the friction points would be against the surface of the material, a part that can vary if the thickness varies.

Other types of connections

An alternative joint is the t-slot joint which is popular with people who make more engineering-type products. This joint uses tabs to locate pieces then a t-shaped slot with a captive nut. This type of joint is great. You can slightly oversize the holes to allow for oversized material and the bolt will hold it snug together. If you use the radii on the corners of the cut outs you greatly reduce the risk of cracking the acrylic by over tightening the bolt.

If you want to go another step, rubber washers can also reduce the chance of over tightening and maintain tension in the bolt so it won’t come undone through vibrations etc.

Hopefully these tips will help you with your next laser cutting project, or perhaps give you the extra tools you need to finalize a design you’re working on.

We’ll be interested to hear your experiences using radii too, and any other advice you might have for people wanting to make 3D designs using acrylic. Let us know below!

This handy advice from Dan Emery was sourced from the Ponoko Support Forums.

Laser Cutting Nostalgia

Laser cut Bugs, snails, moons, gems, and 3D cubes!

I’m Sam Tanis and this was The Laser Cutter Roundup #260.  For the past 6 years I have been collecting my post into the weekly roundup here at Ponoko’s Blog, but The Laser Cutter Blog is coming to an end. I have been posting there since 2009 (1813 total posts!), and it is time to move on. In the near future I hope to return to blogging for Ponoko, focusing more in-depth on the skills required to make an idea into a final product. The Laser Cutter blog will remain, but it will no long be updated, except for new link that may come up. The Facebook Page will remain, and a new Facebook Group has been set up for anyone who wishes to join. Thanks Everyone!

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Above are models of VW Campervans. They are made of laser cut and etched birch plywood, like Ponoko.com‘s own Birch Plywood, and come from Fleurs Gifts.

After the jump, snails, moons, gems, and 3D cubes… (more…)

Laser Cutting On Display

Laser cut hands, pins, girls, bananas, and bow ties!

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Above is a POS display for a Samsung Camera. It is laser cut from acrylic like Ponoko.com‘s own Glass Green,  with an application of mirrored foil and comes from Milos Paripovic.

After the jump, pins, girls, bananas, and bow ties… (more…)

Laser Cut Geometry

Laser cut coasters, sleeves, flowers, and a cyclops!

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Above are a set of four geometric coasters. They are laser cut and etched into 1/8″ thick Baltic birch, like Ponoko.com‘s own  Birch Plywood, and come from Pixels and Timber.

After the jump, sleeves, flowers, and a cyclops… (more…)

Laser Cutting Comes Natural, To Some…

Laser cut camping, birds, rabbits, and sexy lady legs!

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Above is camping themed brooch set. It is painted laser cut and etched wood, like Ponoko.com‘s own Birch Plywood, and comes from The Twenty Fingers.

After the jump, birds, rabbits, and sexy lady legs… (more…)

Entrepreneur turning hobby into novelty toy and apparel company

Robots! Yeah!
robomustache1

Imagine a community of robots; from helpers to dance masters to happy companions and more. What stories would they tell? What journeys would they embark on, as their world and ours merge into one fantastical creative adventure?

The characters from RoboMustache were created and designed by Charles Wade of Greensboro NC, and they are working their way into the hearts and imaginations of young robot enthusiasts one laser cut assembly kit at a time.

It all started with the Helper Bot

GREENSBORO, NC — After graduating from college, designer and maker, Charles Wade, began his hobby by making unique animal stickers, which later morphed into woodcraft and papercraft creations. During a test for one of his woodcrafts he designed and built a poseable wooden robot. The Helper Bot was born.

With the creation of the Helper Bot, Wade began experimenting with other ideas. After receiving feedback and appreciation for his work, he created more robots and designed assembly kits that would allow others to build his creations.

Resurrected from the scrapheap in a derelict factory

Wade has cultivated his hobby into a career by establishing RoboMustache; a collection of wooden robot assembly kits, accessories and merchandise. More than a collection of novelties, the RoboMustache hints at a rich world of storytelling as well. Coined from a found project in a derelict factory, as the company grows, so will the RoboMustache universe. The story will expand to tell more about the existing robots and bring in new robots along the way.

The most mustchioed  ‘Staff Pick’ on Kickstarter

Wade is crowdfunding the project to take the RoboMustache universe to the next level. The Kickstarter launched Dec. 4, 2015 and runs through the new year. Rewards for backers include assembly kits for each of the RoboMustache characters, laser cut in bamboo ply by Ponoko.

For more information on RoboMustache, visit RoboMustache.com or email contact@RoboMustache.com. To see the Kickstarter, visit RoboMustache.com/Kickstarter

Laser Cutting Some Cheer

Laser cut holly, pharmaceuticals, dragons and saints, watermelon!

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Above is a graphic holly Christmas card. It is laser cut from paper, like Ponoko.com‘s own Cardstock, and comes from Storyshop.

After the jump, pharmaceuticals, dragons and saints, watermelon… (more…)

Ironically Retro Laser Cut Time

Laser cut clocks, stars, and a small business!

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Above is an alarm clock housing for your smartphone. It is laser cut from MDF, like Ponoko.com‘s own, and comes from vincent.verheggan over at Instructables.

After the jump, stars, and a small business… (more…)

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #25

Wrapped in a Living Hinge: Laser Cut Clutch

laser cut living hinge bag michael harwood

There is something almost magical about the way a flat sheet of rigid material becomes flexible when laser cut using the ‘living hinge’ technique. This method of achieving a 3D shape from 2D material is ideally suited to laser cutting, as it exploits the natural tendency for stiff materials to flex around voids or notches. With a distinctive visual identity, the functional design elements can also be quite eye-catching.

The result is a smooth, organic curve that can be controlled rather efficiently if you are willing to either put your head far enough into the mathematics of how it works, or simply enjoy the prototyping process through several rounds of trial and error.

About living hinges

Learn more in our post on How To Design a Living Hinge where the mathematics behind this construction technique are revealed. While many examples of living hinges use simple lines as the decorative and functional element, it is in fact possible to adapt complex graphics (such as icons or company logos) to achieve a similar physical manipulation in the material.

See the following examples of patterns increasing in complexity, and how they respond when they are a part of a living hinge. To the left is a basic staggered line element, similar to the clutch bag design featured above from Michael Harwood. Moving through to chevrons, larger voids in a plus symbol and then the more detailed Space Invader sprite, it is clear that visually recognisable icons can indeed become living hinge elements.

Applying this technique to your brand

Staggered lines are an excellent starting point when looking at living hinges, as the behavior of the material is much more predictable and therefore easier to control. To keep things interesting, we do also encourage exploring more complex designs for maximum impact. Consider both the form that is created when the material bends around the living hinge, and how best to incorporate brand identity.

Have you bagged the perfect fashion accessory using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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