Capture The Kids’ Market With These Toys For Girls

When Laser Cutting Gets Cute

laser cut 4girls heart shaped box justaddsharks

For a market that is all about playtime, the toy industry is a serious business indeed. In the US, spending on dolls alone tops $2.6 billion each year, and sales are on the increase. Through the Ponoko Personal Factory we’ve got one of the most accessible ways to make unique fashion items and toys at our fingertips, and this means you too can laser cut yourself a slice of the toy industry pie.

In this article we are taking a look at how designers and makers are using laser cutting to tap into the ‘toys for girls’ market. First up is a heart-shaped box from Just Add Sharks (pictured above). Ideal for storing keepsakes and sweet whimsies, it is the feature of an Instructables post that shows how you don’t need a multi-million dollar factory to produce desirable products that are just right for this discerning market segment.

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Customization is one of the reasons entrepreneurs and designers turn to laser cutting. As we can see with Isabella’s name plaque by Woodums (above), the laser cut and etched ply brings added depth and vibrance to an already playful font.

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Knock on Isabella’s door, and chances are high there will be a fantastical land filled with princesses and fairies inside. Etsy seller FoxyFunk knows that every princess needs her crown (above, left). Wearing an actual tiara may not be the fashion-forward statement some young girls are looking to make, but the mirror acrylic crown brooch will sit right with almost any outfit. Fairies are certainly not forgotten and this necklace from CataCakeCreations (above, right) also taps into the huge costume jewellery market.

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Perfect for use as pendants, jewellery or even suspended in a mobile, laser cut silhouettes are a fantastic way to engage with these eager consumers. The Alice in Wonderland themed cutouts from EasyCutPrintPD (above, left) are offered as a digital file that can be incorporated into a broader laser cut design or simply sent straight to Ponoko for production in your favorite material. Other silhouettes and figures can be purchased already cut, as with this set of playful characters from Joann (above, right).

Drawing inspiration from Disney classics introduces familiar characters that can be laser cut in the dazzling array of acrylic material options. The Mermaid Pendant from imyourpresent on Etsy (below, left) uses opaque, mirror, pearl and laser etched acrylic to define the form. The precision of laser cutting means that combining materials can be achieved with very neat results. Add a little surface finishing to the process, and you’ve got a recipe for success as YouMakeMeDesign know. Check out their cute 2D Roly Poly Dolls (below, right).

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We can’t really talk about toys for girls (and boys too, really) without taking a look at doll houses. A universal favorite, the dolls house captures imaginations and opens the door to immersive worlds of pretend play.  Laser cutting allows for doll houses of every imaginable shape and size; we have collected a few here to show just how diverse they can be.

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Starting elegantly simple, the flat-pack design from Katherine Belsey can very quickly become populated with all you need for a home sweet home. Out of the box (above, left) the house is a classic laser cut raw canvas, and with a little paint and doll house furniture (above, right) it really comes to life.

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Doll house furniture can also take form through laser cutting. Karen Benson Miniatures (above) have refined this to a fine art, with a range that covers period pieces, modern designs and others that are just plain fun. As with the doll houses themselves, the combination of laser cutting and laser etching will allow for a high level of detail and customization in the form, the surface features and the construction methods used for miniature furniture pieces.

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Parents with an eye for particular design eras will often encourage their kids to follow the same aesthetic sensibility. The retro-modern curves of 3StarStudioArts’ laser cut doll house (above) are continued through to the included furniture, and the whole set becomes a vibrant and stylish pad once bright colors are applied.

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In an excellent example of how laser cutting can accurately replicate almost any design style, the period houses from Laser Dollhouses feature an attention to detail (above) that makes for a serious showpiece. This dedication to architectural authenticity is also a feature of the clear acrylic house from Made By Hidden (below, left) that is not actually a toy, but would certainly be loads of fun to play with. In contrast to the geometric rigidity of architectural miniatures, Cartonus’ Fairy Doll House (below, right) invites imaginative play with its smooth curves and large openings.

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Doll houses are usually set at a scale to allow for other toys to fit inside, which integrates well with existing collections of toys and figures. Through laser cutting, it can also be a lot of fun to go much, much smaller… the colorful buildings from Moe Miniatures (below, left) have a charm all of their own, and whole dioramas can emerge when you include miniature critters like Megan Baehr’s cute little laser cut lion (below, right).

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Make-believe and pretend play is an important part of a child’s daily activities, and whether it’s through miniatures, doll houses or character jewellery; laser cutting gives designers and makers direct access to this lucrative market. By utilising the strengths of laser cutting such as ease of customization, accuracy and diverse material range small companies and independent sellers on Etsy are able to mix it up with the big guys. The added benefits of low cost and rapid design to manufacture process that laser cutting is famous for enables clever makers to move and flow with design trends, further integrating them into the commercial arena.

Are you a toy designer making products for girls? What cool laser cut toy ideas for girls have you seen? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Make a Laser Cut Wobbler

Get your creativity rolling with this simple DIY laser cut project

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Watching things wobble has something mysterious and mesmerising about it, and when you add in the precision of a laser cutter, the results are mathematically sublime. Building your own laser cut Wobbler is a fun way to learn about the physics behind motion and inertia, or if the how and why is not as critical for you as the what, perhaps having something novel and intriguing to roll across the table is reason enough!

Thanks to Thingiverse users Greg Zumwalt and Ella Jameson, making your own laser cut Wobbler is easier than ever. You may notice from the image above (and the video below) that Greg’s design is not actually laser cut… it has been 3D printed. That’s where Ella comes in – she remixed Greg’s design to make her laser cut version, and shared the files for others to enjoy.

Simply download Ella’s .svg files (different disk sizes have been prepared for a material thickness of 3mm) and fire up your Ponoko Personal Factory to laser cut in your 3mm material of choice.

Here is a video of Greg’s wobbler in action:

So how does a Wobbler work?

The Wobbler moves so nicely because its center of gravity remains very nearly constant while rolling along, thanks to the ratio between the slots that connect the disks and their radii. This can be calculated for any round-ish shape using mathematical magic, but if equations make you wobbly, then you can cheat a little and use the approximated ratio of:

Slot Length = Disk Radius * 0.293

Wobblers can come in a number of forms, and with the repeated motion of the disks as they roll along, there is a great opportunity to laser etch onto the surfaces for further visual impact. It is also possible to apply the same mathematics to other Wobbler constructions; perhaps the most notable example of this is John Edmark’s laser cut Rollipses.

Click through for a video of yet another stunning kinetic mathematical wonder from John Edmark, as well as a collection of Wobblers presented by Tim at Grand Illusions. (more…)

How To Make a Customized Jigsaw Puzzle

Laser Cut Educational Toys

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Personalised toys can make a great gift, adding something unique and memorable to show how much you care. It’s one of those things that many people think about doing, but never take the first steps to actually make it happen. Let’s take a look at how easy it can be to put together a personalised laser cut educational toy.

As you can see in this guide on Instructables, it is possible to achieve a highly resolved, professional-looking outcome even for those who are new to laser cutting. The guide, written by Ponoko’s own Dan Emery, walks through a process of creating the cutting pattern for the jigsaw pieces using Inkscape, and then building a custom map section that will become the laser etched details.    (more…)

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…)

Entrepreneur turning hobby into novelty toy and apparel company

Robots! Yeah!
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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…)

All Facets of Laser Cut Animals

Laser cut animals, rulers, spaceships, and California!

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Above are geometric animal coasters. They are laser cut and etched into maple wood, like Ponoko.com‘s own Premium Veneer-MDF, and come from The Campbell Craft.

After the jump, rulers, spaceships, and California… (more…)

Laser Cutting? You Bet!

Laser cut poker chips, a styracosaur, a lamp, and a fox!

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Above is a steampunk poker set. All pieces, including the box, are laser cut from plywood like Ponoko.com‘s own Birch Plywood  and comes from Plywood Science.

After the jump, a styracosaur, a lamp, and a fox… (more…)