How To Make a Plaster Cast from a Laser Cut Mold

Giving traditional sculpture techniques a digital manufacturing makeover

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A plaster cast of your head is a great novelty, but the process of acquiring one has not traditionally been a pleasant experience. Thanks to a post by Koen Fraijman on Instructables, immortalising yourself with a sculpted bust just became a whole lot easier. How did he do it? By using laser cutting!

Scan and edit the 3D file

The process begins with a digitised scan of the subject – in this case, it’s Koen’s own head. A moderate understanding of the program Rhino is required for the next few steps, where a mold is built around the imported 3D scan. This is also the time to include locator holes, so that pins can be used to aid in lining everything up during assembly of the sliced model. Rhino’s Nest takes care of the slicing, and also prepares everything nicely for laser cutting.

It is important to choose materials carefully and make sure the layer height is correct before heading to the laser cutter. Koen decided on cardboard because it enabled a relatively easy cleanup process once the plaster was poured, and the cardboard flutes also give the model an interesting surface texture.

Cutting the sliced model

Once you’ve had all the elements laser cut at your local maker space or perhaps your Ponoko Personal Factory, the mold is ready to assemble. As a bonus, all of the inner segments that make up the void can also be stacked to give you an additional head sculpture!

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Pour, clean up and then stand proud…

Making plaster can get a bit messy, but there are plenty of tips on Instructables and Koen includes a few handy hints in his post. After a couple of hours, the plaster will be set and it is time to literally unbox your sculpture. Because the cardboard is brittle/soggy (when wet) and the plaster creeps into all the nooks and crannies that it can, the cleanup can be a bit laborious – but the results, as you’ll soon discover, are well worth it:

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A very distinctive permanent record of how you would look, should you be made of (in this case) corrugated cardboard! Koen’s key innovation of using laser cutting to create a mold for the plaster cast made this process quite different to the way molds are usually taken.

With the ease and accessibility of 3D printing in workshops across the globe, it is good to be reminded that some of the old stalwarts of model making and sculpture are still viable options… even if they have had a helping hand from a 3D scanner and laser cutter.

See the full process on how to make a plaster cast from a laser cut mold on Instructables.

 

Introspective Laser Cut Art

Organic laser cut layers come to life

Adno laser cut portrait detail

When an artist has the knack of truly capturing a portrait, the result will often have a commanding presence that engages and challenges the viewer. Andrey Adno’s portrait series In Myself uses laser cutting to add depth and personality with a distinctive visual style that is quite mesmerising.

The portraits are presented across a variety of scales, from life-sized material explorations to an enormous exhibition installation that is illuminated from within.

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Light, shadow and the intriguing qualities of translucent acrylic all play a role in supporting the layered laser cut contours to define the form. These physical works show a high level of detail and present a novel interpretation of the artistic portrait.

Adno laser cut portrait acrylic

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The changing impact of light and shadow through different material explorations encourages a range of emotional responses to the portrait series.

Fans of street artist 1010 are also in for a treat, thanks to an interesting digital exploration Adno is working on. With a mesmerising organic motion, the smooth forms swirl and blend to expose and then conceal across several layers of material.

What you see in the animation below is a part of a work-in-progress; a “test version” digitally produced using Maxon’s Cinema 4d program. Although this will not become an actual physical artwork, the connection to Adno’s earlier laser cut pieces continues through the use of layers and cutout contour lines.

 

A video posted by Andrey Adno (@adno) on

 

See more inspirational laser cut artwork from Adno on Instagram, and follow through to his personal website where you’ll find exhibitions, projects and a sample of his mind-blowing street art.

Laser Cut Cube Reveals Hand Painted Images

A unique image appears on each rotation of this transparent acrylic cube

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There was definitely some careful planning going on when artist Thomas Medicus put together this remarkable laser cut cube titled ‘Emergence Lab’. Upon rotation, a new hand-painted image is revealed from each orientation with a dynamic three-dimensional impact. It really is quite mesmerising… continue reading below for an HD clip of the cube being rotated through all axis.

The cube consists of 216 laser cut acrylic strips assembled into a grid structure. This enables an anamorphic painting to be positioned on each side that is only able to be seen in complete clarity from one specific viewpoint. In order to retain the integrity of the transparent cube, the images have to occupy the same physical space as their counterparts on the opposite side; adding to the complexity of the hand painted designs.

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By using this method of construction for the cube, it makes the task of applying the images much more straightforward – but also results in unwanted reflections within the structure. To get around this, Thomas came up with a clever solution: fill the cube with a silicon oil that has the same refractive index as the acrylic structure. This gives the visual impression of a solid glass block, as the individual facets and surfaces of the acrylic strips blend away to become almost invisible.

 

Can you think of other ways to use silicon oil to enhance the impact of laser cut acrylic from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below.

Emergence Lab via My Modern Met

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #30

Having a ball

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Give a bunch of people something round that can be thrown, caught, bounced or rolled… and within moments an impromptu game will have started. Even the non-sporty types are likely to join in, so strong is the allure of the ubiquitous ball.

This clever flat-packed ball from Instructables user Scientiffic is comprised of only two simple laser-cut components. Repeated and then snapped together with no need for glues or adhesives, it is a neat example of how you can make a robust and functional object from basic elements.

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What does an object like this do for your brand?

Engaging customers with a physical object that can then become a light-hearted networking tool allows your brand to form a different kind of association at an event. Incorporating the tactile process of assembling the ball, then adding in the element of play either as an introverted solo activity or as a way to interact with others may indeed prove to be more engaging (and therefore more memorable) than the usual event swag.

A vehicle for your corporate identity

The example here from Instructables shows the components of a ball that have been laser cut from wood. Ways to adapt this design could include the addition of company branding as a laser etched detail, or even changing materials to use acrylic in colors that match your company’s colorway. Other options to generate interest and encourage interaction could involve the addition of simple electronics to illuminate the material from within, or add engagement triggers such as sound or motion sensitive functionality.

Can you think of other ways to make an interactive conversation starter 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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Second round for UGEARS self-propelled mechanical models

Extraordinary laser cut machines 

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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

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…)

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #28

A Vision for the New Year

The impact of Google Cardboard on the accessibility of virtual reality has been dramatic. While not quite in the same league as ‘true’ VR headsets such as Oculus or Sony’s offerings, it is remarkable what can be achieved using the Cardboard platform for under $10.

One benefit of the accessibility of Google Cardboard is that it is an ideal vehicle for promotional messaging. The platform has been used for advertising campaigns by some pretty big players, as well as a myriad of small-scale campaigns and personal projects.

What is Google Cardboard?

Watch the intro movie below to see how the New York Times introduce their viewer in a campaign that saw the units distributed to over 1 million subscribers. The portal at NYTVR showcases a collection of highly refined immersive clips filmed specifically for use in these virtual reality headsets.

 

The high tech approach to low tech

For a really polished example of Google Cardboard at its finest, look no further than the Volvo XC90 campaign. Using some serious high-tech equipment, they were able to film an immersive experience that enables people to get a sense of what it is like to be physically inside the new car. The Volvo Cardboard viewer has also received a fancy facelift, going beyond everyday cardboard to reflect the luxury feel of the brand.

 

Are you ready to go Virtual in the new year?

Can you think of a way to create your own branded laser cut Cardboard Viewer? Although the content associated with these two examples looks pretty slick, the physical platform itself is still based on the same core components. With freely available plans for the structure to be laser cut, it is surprisingly easy to achieve unique, engaging results from more modest materials and equipment.

If the examples from New York Times and Volvo have perked your interest, then you may enjoy looking further at how others have made use of this affordable technology. There were also some creative submissions to the Ponoko Cardboard Design competition, showing there is still plenty of room for clever adaptations and customizations. Let us know in the comments below how your company can use Google Cardboard to dazzle and delight your customers’ minds.

 

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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…)