Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #37

Laser Etched QR Codes

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Our devices are talking to each other every day, and with all this chatter going on, making new connections or transferring data should be an effortless process. Technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and QR (Quick Response) Codes help to make these digital interactions smooth and simple. Continue reading to discover how you can use laser cutting to integrate these technologies into your products.

How does NFC and QR work?

For NFC to work, information is encoded onto an embedded chip. When two devices containing NFC chips come into contact (usually in the form of a bump or light tap) a process is engaged – payment could be transferred, data and audio connections established or other tasks involving interaction between the two devices.

QR codes operate much like a barcode; they contain a set of reference information that can be scanned using the camera on a smartphone. This prompts the device to access information such as a website address, play a video, or (as in the example above) display login credentials.

Why is this useful for your brand?

The ability to seamlessly connect can give your customers immediate access to a deeper level of information. This means you can add collateral such as image galleries, video clips and other detailed supporting content without consuming valuable real estate on your product. There is much scope to have fun with QR Codes as well as to use them for sensible, straightforward communication.

In the example shown here, Instructables user BWRussell needed a way to share the login details for his wireless network. Tired of spelling out the passphrase to relatives and visitors, he constructed his own dongle that houses an NFC chip and a laser etched QR Code. All visitors need to do is tap or scan the code with their mobile device, and they will be granted access to the network.

It is worth noting that when it comes to the actual physical QR code, a similar functional outcome can be achieved with a desktop printer… however, a laser etched QR code has a greater sense of quality and purpose.

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See more of this DIY approach to NFC and QR from Instructables user BWRussell.

Can your laser cutting make connecting easy 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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How To Make a Laser Cut Dremel Chop Saw

Industrialize your mini DIY production line

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Repetitive cutting for projects that require precision parts can be a time-consuming process. The need for consistency and accuracy in making several hundred cuts from small diameter pipes prompted sculptor HTMF Metal Pizza to seriously upgrade his DIY production line.

Why not use a pipe cutter?

The usual way to cut sections from the hobby pipe is to use a pipe cutter, however this tool leaves a small deformation around the inner diameter. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but as HTMF’s process requires smooth edges on both inner and outer surfaces, the sections from the pipe cutter are unsuitable for his needs.

Solution: the Dremel abrasive disc

An abrasive disc spinning at high speed will cut with the precision that HTMF is looking for. When controlled in smooth linear movements, the cuts will be quick and clean… so armed with this knowledge he set out to optimise the cutting process to achieve greater speed without sacrificing any accuracy.

“While I tried cutting the tubing free hand, I found I needed a third hand and there was a huge variation in size which required a great deal of re-finishing.”

Introducing the laser cut Chop Saw

The solution was to build a miniaturised ‘chop saw’ mount for his Dremel cutting tool. As well as holding the Dremel and working material securely, the chop saw houses two drawers; one to store Dremel parts and another to catch the pipe sections as they are cut. He also added a scale on the cutting table that aids in achieving consistent lengths with each cut.

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See the full tutorial on how to build a laser cut Chop Saw mount for the Dremel multi-tool on Instructables. You’ll find all the files you need for laser cutting including an adapter for switching between the Dremel hand tool itself and the flexible shaft attachment, depending on which version you are using. The thoroughly detailed assembly instructions are also peppered with tips (and supporting pics) on how to best manage the trickier steps will see you up and cutting in no time.

…and if you’re wondering what’s up with this Instructables creator’s screen name, HTMF stands for Having Too Much Fun! 

 

Animated Laser Cut Fox

Playfully pouncing from frame to frame

laser cut fox animation

The inner musings of talented artist Sarah Capon have been brought to life thanks to an animated collaboration with Industrial Designer Benjamin Donnelly.

The process started off with a neat series of drawings that make up each frame of the animation, capturing the motion and physical suspense as the fox steadies itself before pouncing playfully. Sarah’s sketches were then converted and sent to a laser cutter to be etched and cut from plywood, along with a clever support bracket designed to hold the laser cut fox frames in place during filming.

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Watch the full animation in the video below, along with behind-the-scenes footage that gives a good taste of the process that enabled this playful laser cut animated outcome.

Sarah Capon via YouTube

Laser Cut Open Source Apple Watch Band

Introducing a different approach to achieving affordable designer customisations

OpenBand-on-AppleWatch

For those fans of the Apple Watch who like to put their own individual spin on the tech that they wear, the Open Band concept proposes to further accessorise this iconic designer accessory.

Existing currently as an in-progress exploration from Brooklyn-based rapid prototyping specialists Breakfast, the Open Band project has taken cues from the official range of Apple watch bands, and given them a laser cut makeover. The goal was to allow makers and designers with access to a laser cutter (or a service like Ponoko!) to design custom watch bands that are both stylish and affordable using familiar laser cutting materials.

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OpenBand-Prototypes

“…we attempted to create an open source design file that would allow people to create a unique, low-cost Apple Watch band which could be laser cut from a number of unique materials, such as: wood, acrylic, acetal, etc.”

The time may be right for this project to see the light of day, but interested Apple Watch wearers will have to be patient… with no definition from Breakfast as to when, if ever, the open source design files will be released. Even still, Open Band is a thought provoking example of how laser cutting can further democratize fancy fashions in the world of high-end design.

source: Breakfast

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #36

Laser Cut Cross Stitching

laser cut cross stitch

The crafty, handmade look of cross stitch embroidery has something wonderfully warm and fuzzy about it. While the regular grid of holes speaks of an industrial precision, the contrast of woven yarn introduces a human element that is organic and inviting.

Laser Cut Cross Stitch Inspiration

The pendant above was made by Rebecca from Hugs are Fun as a gift for her dad. Over time, Rebecca has refined her techniques to become a bit of an expert at making all kinds of laser cut cross stitched whimsies. It’s well worth browsing through her website for inspiration, patterns, project ideas and even items to purchase.

How to use Laser Cutting for cross stitching

Cross stitching describes an embroidery technique of tracing out patterns using yarn or other coiled materials. In these particular examples, the yarn is threaded through a defined pattern of laser cut holes to generate the raster-like effect. With a little creative thought and planning, you can come up with many interesting variants based on this core idea.

The material of choice can be any of our usual laser cutting favorites. Bamboo ply, acrylic, metals or even leather and felt will all respond well as substrates for the cross stitch technique.

For versatile cross stitched patterns, a grid of laser cut holes will allow for quirky pixellated artwork or logos. It can also be effective to cut only the holes you need to define the form; leaving the substrate surface bare either to have presence in its own right or as an optional space for further laser etched details.

Can you give your brand a cross stitched crafty twist with 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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How To Make an All-Wooden Laser Cut Padlock

Keeping your treasures safe 

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Knowing that your valuables are securely locked away gives peace of mind, whether you are storing the jewellery inherited from your grandma or the secret plans to your Next Big Thing. Perhaps you just need to keep someone out of your private space, or to seal off the cupboard under the stairs from monsters that lurk in the dark.

Whatever the reason is, a lock and key can be handy indeed. So instead of heading down to your local hardware store to buy one, how about building a fully functional laser cut lock of your own?

This simple and clever design from Thingiverse user PArtzzles will prevent prying fingers from finding their way into your box of treasures. The design for the laser cut lock was worked out on Inkscape, and files are available to download so that you can make a version of your own at your favorite laser cutting service. Some makers might like to adapt the lock to further boost its security credibility to a level that will stop thieves in their tracks. Well… that’s the idea, at least!

via Thingiverse

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #35

Illuminated laser etched business card

laser-etched-illuminated-card

Handing out cards is a networking ritual that is still going strong, and for good reasons. As a conversation starter and trigger for memory recall, the trusty business card plays an important role… but with all the cards that get passed around at events, how can you make sure yours stands out from the crowd?

This bright example, designed by Uk creative agency The Big A for artist Ghizlan el Glaoui, shows that there are indeed alternatives to printed cardstock. Although it may not be something she’s handing out to every passer-by, it would certainly have an impact for the select few who do receive one.

How does it work?

A laser cutter was used to etch artwork and text into the clear acrylic surface, with the result almost invisible when viewed in natural light. This all changes when the material is lit from an edge, in a process known as total internal reflection. For Ghizlan’s illuminated business card, a small LED embedded in the corner is activated with a gentle squeeze, lighting up a sample of her artwork along with her signature and key contact info.

How can your brand’s image be illuminated with laser cutting from 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.

via PSFK

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How To Use Nesting Parts in Laser Cutting

A guide to laser cut line optimisation

ponoko-nesting-lines-example-laser-cut-cardboard-bin

Discussions around the laser cutters at Ponoko continue to highlight how important effective nesting of parts in laser cut files is. Today we are taking a look at a real-world example of how optimising linework can achieve faster cuts and therefore save money. Cutting time is generally the most expensive component when ordering from Ponoko. In the Ponoko forums, people have shared their methods of saving money. Let’s take a look at nesting line work in greater detail…

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This is the design we will work with – a bin. It is designed to take standard supermarket shopping bags, and was cut from 6mm thick double sided P3 corrugated cardboard. The first prototype came out to be about $40, an amount that could be considered a little steep for cardboard. However, after a few design changes we were able to reduce the cutting time by nearly half.

Design

First, consider good design as being the minimum necessary. The phrase “more is less” is a good mantra to abide by. Clever designers will figure out the best way to maximise the use of materials and processes they undergo.

Look carefully at your design, is there anything that could be considered superfluous? Is there anything that if you took it away, nobody would miss it terribly?

Curved lines vs. Straight lines

Keep in mind that lasers slow down dramatically on curves. If you ask yourself ‘are there any parts that you can take away curved sections without compromising the overall design?’ and the answer is ‘Yes’, then be sure to head back to your design program of choice before sending files to the laser cutter. Several vector drawing programs allow you to simplify linework down to straight lines. If not, try to reduce the size of radiuses as shown in the image below.

Another handy tip is that if you have lots of long straight lines try to align them parallel with either the x or y axis – this means the laser’s lens is only traveling in one direction at a time, it is slightly more efficient for the laser cutting.

Check the laser won’t see double

There can be an issue with overlapping linework. The laser doesn’t know what your intention was – it just thinks you want to cut the same line twice. It may sound obvious, but some vector drawing apps are more prone to this than others, it is often very easy to duplicate or copy and paste linework on top of each other.

You usually can’t see this, but the laser definitely can. In extreme cases this will double your cutting time (and cost) and increases the chances of burning the material. Always check your drawing files for duplicate linework.

The Fix: ungroup lines and drag the vertex points around to check you have no double ups.

Nesting cutting paths

Are there any parallel lines, or semi-parallel lines you can join to one another to make one section? This will give you greater control over the order of laser cutting parts. Remember to delete any shared lines that may double up.

You can see in the bin example below we had 12 individual strips, but then we changed the design to make them parallel on both sides and placed them together. The laser splits them after it has cut around the outside with individual parallel lines.

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Laser cutters don’t necessarily cut sequentially where you logically think they should. Sometimes they will travel to the other side of the material for the next line despite other linework in closer proximity.

Also, due to the slight unpredictability of the cutting order it can be helpful to upload several slightly differently nested files. Sometimes the placement of parts next to one another might help you save a few precious dollars or cents.

Experiment

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Different materials have different cutting speeds and characteristics. Feel free to post any tips you find on reducing cutting time on the support forums and in the comments below. There is much to learn from hearing other people’s experiences.

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Remember that it is unlikely your first design is going to be the best; prototyping is always an iterative process. Plan to make several variations of your design and do small tests so you don’t waste time, money and materials. As the results show here, a little tweaking of the design can save you a lot.

The content of this post by David McGahan originally appeared on the Ponoko Forums.

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #34

Themed ‘Build Your Own’ event kits

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Diy kits are a great way to engage people with the world that your brand inhabits. From a collection of snap-together laser cut parts, a miniature diorama can be created that entertains and stimulates playful conversation.

Connect to an event

The example here comes from Michiel Post van der Molen’s wedding, where guests were given a Build Your Own Honeymoon kit that enabled them to become immersed in the newlywed spirit. The package contained iconic laser cut silhouettes along with a felt base, where a grid of slots allowed personal interpretations of the ideal romantic getaway to be clipped into place.


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Connecting with your brand

What unique worlds can be created to connect people with your brand using laser cutting from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. By handing out simple, thoughtful construction kits to potential customers, there is an opportunity for them to become new storytellers and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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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.