StippleGen experiments on a DIY laser cutter

Going dotty over laser cutting

When Jens Clarholm built his impressive DIY laser cutter, he was well aware of the limitations imposed by the low powered laser. While it may not cut through wood or steel, it does do a very neat job of cutting paper.

One great way he has explored this is by having a play with StippleGen2, a nifty program from Evil Mad Scientists. The program uses a special algorithm to convert an image into tiny dots. There are a number of ways to manipulate how it does this, as the calculations are repeated over and over again and the final graphic is refined. StippleGen2 is easy to use and a lot of fun.

For this experiment, Jens chose an iconic image of Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet.

After letting StippleGen2 crunch the numbers for a while I imported the resulting vector graphic file into inkscape and generated the G-code so that I could use my laser cutter to cut the image into black paper.

The cutting process took a little over 2 hours, which isn’t too bad when you consider that there are over 1000 holes in this particular image.

There is a lot more that StippleGen2 can do, so if you are intrigued by Jens’ experiment you can have a go with StippleGen2 yourself or learn more about Jens’ DIY laser cutter here.

via JensLabs

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Laser cut mechanical Moon Phase Clock

Tracking the lunar orbit with laser cut precision

For those who need to know the phases of the moon, there are options way more satisfying than turning to your favourite Internet search engine.

This laser cut marvel was produced by Lukas Christensen as a gift for his brother, a biodynamic farmer who relies on Moon phases to plant and harvest crops.

When investigating exactly what to make, Lukas decided that merely tracking phases of the Moon would be far too easy. To add an extra challenge, he incorporated the function of showing rise and set times of the Moon. And so the Moon Machine began to take form.

Clearly no stranger to working with numbers, Lukas has included a thorough walkthrough of his process on Instructables.

Although an actual video would have been great to see, here is the next best thing – an animation of the mechanism where you can see the hand crank turning away. In real-world use, one turn of the crank is made each day.

Some of the wooden gears broke under the considerable pressure of the assembled machine at the point where forces are translated to the central planetary gear. To get around this, substitute parts were cut from aluminium.

Reflecting on the completed Moon Phase machine, Lukas has identified a number of ways to make it even more accurate should he come to attempt another version.

Learn more about Moon Machine on Instructables.

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Laser cut wooden chess set packs flat

Chess essentials ready to go

Perfect for the active chess player who likes to get out and about, Got Chess? presents a stylish contemporary solution. This laser cut wooden chess board concept by product designer Peter Baeten folds flat into a neat leather pouch that also acts as a playing surface during the game.

“Inspired by the classic leather notebooks, ‘Got Chess?’ is a fully functional chess set, but stripped to its essentials.”

The line between 2D and 3D is blurred as the silhouettes of the pieces take centre stage. Due to the way that the pieces slot in to the board, only the active players have a full view of the game at hand.

Laser cut and then hand finished, Got Chess? consists of four tablets – one each to house the black and white pieces, and two to make up the board.

So if you see a guy wandering around with a stylish folded leather pouch, don’t automatically assume it’s a hipster iPad case. This could be your big opportunity to challenge a Grand Master.

Peter Baeten via Laughing Squid

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Making Cannons with Lasers

Fully Functional Black Powder Cannons from Mini Cannon Tech

Alexander Sarnowski is the product designer behind Mini Cannon Tech – fully functional mini-sized cannons that combine CNC metal machining with wood laser cutting.

For as long as he can remember, Alexander has been building everything from his own morse code machines to home made rocket motors. For his 16th birthday his father bought him a mid-sized lathe, and since then he’s been designing and cranking out parts every chance he gets.

The inspiration behind his miniature civil war cannons came when he manufactured a cannon for his grandfather’s birthday.

“I made him a fully functional miniature civil war mortar out of brass, and he was more excited than I’ve ever seen him about anything. I think that was the point where I realized that I might be on to something.”

Alexander started his research on the mini cannon market and quickly found that while there were plenty of functional cannons available, most of them weren’t nearly as realistic as the ones he had in mind. So he set out to create a scaled down civil-war era black powder cannon that was fully functional, small enough to fit on a desk, and made from historically accurate materials. 

Alexander knew his way around a lathe, so the barrels wouldn’t be a problem. The wood carriages however, would have been impossible to make by hand at the scale he wanted. That’s where Ponoko came in:

“My roommate had ordered laser cut parts from Ponoko for one of his robotics projects, so I asked him if Ponoko also cut wood. I had plenty of CAD experience, so discovering Ponoko was the last piece to the puzzle.”

Once he learned what was possible with Ponoko, designing the first prototype “only took me a few hours” he says, adding that “the time it took me to bolt it all together was only a few minutes, thanks to how accurately the laser cut parts were.” He cites the help he got early-on as one of the top reasons he likes Ponoko:

“I have made some orders where I didn’t compensate for the heat of the laser properly,” he says “so Ponoko sent me exactly what I had ordered AND a redesigned layout for my parts to insure that my parts came out correctly.”

Mini Cannon Tech is now the producer of some of the smallest, and most realistic shootable Civil War cannons online. And yes, these incredibly small cannons can really fire! Using the same process as a real cannon, real black powder is used to fire a small projectile over 100 feet. Check out the video below to see the cannons in action:

His first run of cannons quickly sold out to customers worldwide. I asked Alexander if he had any future products on the horizon.

“The great thing about model cannons is that there are literally thousands of different cannons that existed throughout history so we will never have a shortage of ideas and new products.” he says. “Right now in the works we’ve got models of Civil War mortars, the highly acclaimed Parrott rifle, and the champion of the Mexican War, the 1841 6-Pounder Smoothbore.”

What is Alexander’s advice for designers hoping to make “bang” with their product? “Only make something you are truly passionate about. If you do this, your products will inherently improve over time and your passion will show to people who are looking for a quality product. Don’t do it because you can, do it because you want to. ”

You can get your own realistic, miniature shootable cannon at Mini Cannon Tech.

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Q: When is a camera Not-A-Camera? A: When it’s laser cut!

As an ornament, this laser cut and laser etched 2D wooden camera has its own charm. Just be sure to say cheese when you see someone wearing one, because there is more here than meets the eye.

Secreted inside the half-inch thick device are the tiny innards of a basic digital camera.

Olivia made the Not-A-Camera for her 101 year old grandmother, who has been a shutterbug ever since discovering a knack for photography back in her 90s.

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