Get to know your laser cutter better

DIY Kerf measuring tool refines your laser cutting precision

Although it isn’t critical on all laser cut projects, for anything with parts that fit or slot together, kerf is something that is worth paying attention to.

It may sound like a Jim Henson creation – but kerf is in fact a very real technical term. Kerf refers to the gap that is left by the cutting device – in our case, the laser beam in a laser cutter. It’s usually more of an issue when laser cutting in wood, but will also come into play when laser cutting acrylic and other materials.

Open source enthusiast Dave Chamberlin has come up with a nifty device that can be used to accurately measure the kerf of a laser cutter. The simple cutting pattern has been uploaded to Thingiverse, and includes instructions on how to measure your kerf etched right onto the device itself. Here is what it looks like:

Follow the source link below to download the file and try it out on your own laser cutter. You can also discover what else Dave is up to in his open source maker crusade over at Takeaway 3d Tech.

Thingiverse: Laser Kerf Measuring Tool

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Above are laser cut leather nautilus earrings from Kristina Banwell Designs.

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Laser Cut Cupid

Flying straight to your heart on Valentine’s Day

Did you make something special for a loved one this Valentine’s Day? For those with a laser cutter handy (that includes Ponoko users, too!) here is a cute little Laser Cut Cupid from Rob Ives that is sure to win over more than a few hearts.

All of the parts for this romantic automata are available for free over at Instructables and on Rob’s blog. Assembly is quite straightforward, and made even easier thanks to the detailed instructions provided. With the laser cut parts, some thin dowel, and wire from two paperclips, your Cupid will be flapping away in no time.

Turn the handle, and watch as the laser cut wooden gears work their magic.

There are also a few small neodymium magnets to keep the wings in place. Click through to see images of the laser cut parts and assembly process.   (more…)

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Above are laser cut bamboo wedding cake toppers from Cabin + Cub.

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Exploded hardware wall art

Creative inspiration as products are exposed in all their glory

We all know the story… the kids who spend hours pulling apart every product they can get their hands on will grow up to become tomorrow’s designers, engineers and creative geniuses. Well, the offices of Bolt in downtown Boston show that this is more than just a cliché.

Building a great hardware product is brutally hard work and our walls remind us of that everyday.

Set with a relatively small budget for decorating the office space in an inspirational way, the Bolt team made a list of their favourite hardware products of all time and purchased each item from eBay. The products were then disassembled, cleaned, and mounted on the walls in all their exploded designer glory.

This can be seen as merely an ‘art project’, with all the innards of the products exposed and neatly knolled into place. But as the exposed products become more and more a part of the every day, they have become valuable tools to educate, inspire and remind of how important exquisite design and meticulous engineering are to the success of a business.   (more…)

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Bonded Forever: Jewelry that Unites Cancer Patients and their Families

Bonded Forever designs and sells jewelry for cancer patients, survivors and their families. A portion of the proceeds from every sale are donated to cancer research and patient care.
Bonded Forever Jewelry

In September 2010, Cassandra Hoo faced a difficult situation that ultimately served the as inspiration behind her jewelry company, Bonded Forever.

When her mother was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, Cassandra Hoo wanted to give her a gift that would help her feel grounded, safe, & surrounded by love. “I designed and made a beautiful pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a necklace with semiprecious gemstone beads that I thought would create a soothing, nurturing, and positive effect on her.”

Solar System Pendants

Soon the jewelry became a hit with friends and family, and Cassandra was inspired to create an entire line of jewelry that could help bond people together during hard times.

With her mother 100% cancer-free, Cassandra teamed up with Ponoko to do her part to help cancer patients and their families.

“A friend of mine, who is professional jewelry maker and designer, suggested that I try Ponoko. I was really pleased that Ponoko offered so many materials and the flexibility of making as much or as little product as I wanted.”

With a little help from her graphic design inclined father, Cassandra created a new laser-cut jewelry line that showcased her beautiful logo.

In addition to her site, Cassandra sells her jewelry at trunk shows and craft fairs locally in the Philadelphia area. Cassandra is also raising funds by participating in this year’s “Get Your Rear in Gear” Philly run.

You can purchase Bonded Forever pendants and more at Bonded Forever Jewelry, and read her blog at bondedforever.org

Inspired to design your own product line? Make it with Ponoko!

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Above is a laser cut greeting card from Mr Yen Designs.

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Geeky Alphabet Blocks

Dedicated dad creates laser etched block set for his newborn son

Ensuring that his son’s education starts off on the right path, Jonathan Guberman tinkered away for almost a year to create this fantastic set of wooden alphabet blocks.

Decorated with the things he and his wife are looking forward to sharing with their son, the collection contains 134 laser etched images and icons from some of their favourite movies, TV shows, books, video games and popular culture.

Across the 26 English letter and ten digit blocks, the featured decorations were selected to maintain an even gender balance. Having originally started with each letter showing one movie, character, game etc; it soon became clear that this would be too limiting and the selection process was broadened. Apparently cats were included at his wife’s insistence.

The hardest part was having to cut certain images because there wasn’t enough space; I guess it’s incentive to have another kid so I have an excuse to make another set.

There is a neat little breakdown of the development process and a few other insights over on Jonathan’s blog. You can also see the full list of iconic items, and it’s well worth heading to the flickr set that showcases each block in all its detail.

Regular readers may remember the rather clever Automatypewriter, another fun project from Jonathan.

Alphabet Blocks via Laughing Squid

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Laser cut closure

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Above are laser cut red maple wood puzzle piece buttons from Timber Green Woods.

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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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