The wide world of laser cut wood

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #166

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

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Above is a fox laser cut from cherry wood from Pepper Sprouts.

After the jump, pineapples, skate decks, table numbers, and cupid… (more…)

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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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Handheld printing with 3Doodler

The future of 3D printing is in your hands

Launching with acclaim on Kickstarter, the 3Doodler literally puts the power of 3D printing in your hands. Consisting of an oversized pen device, it houses an extruder similar to that used in low-end 3D printers. At the press of a button, PLA or ABS filament emerges to be dynamically controlled into whatever shape you desire.

It’s a little more primitive than the printers we are used to seeing, and the outcomes tend to have a squiggly, sketchy and sculptural look about them. But if you are not looking for technical refinement or digital precision, then the 3Doodler is a really fun way to introduce makers to the concept of additive manufacturing.

Click through for a video overview from the Kickstarter campaign as well as a few more images of forms produced using this nifty handheld 3D printer.

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Kickstarting a landmine detonator

Mine Kafon: a low cost, wind powered mine detonator

Of all the maker projects I saw in 2012, Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon stands out in my mind as the most valuable contribution to global society.  Hassani grew up in Qasaba, Kabul in Afghanistan, he is now an industrial designer living in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In his studies at university, Hassani recognised that the current means of land mine removal hasn’t had a lot of development in the last 60 years, it is still a labourous, dangerous, slow and expensive operation.  Mine Kafon is designed as a low cost solution to the problem of old, but still active, land mines. It is a land mine detonator inspired in part by childhood toys that Hassani and his friends crafted from cheap materials. (more…)

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Self taught teen from Sierra Leone invited to MIT Media Lab

Youngest visiting practitioner at 16 years old runs a radio station he built himself
At 16 years of age, Kelvin Doe or DJ Focus is the youngest person ever to be invited to MIT Media Lab as a Visiting Practitioner. Even more remarkable is that Doe lives in Sierra Leone, an African nation on the path to recovery from civil war, and he’s already an accomplished, self taught maker. Prior to his visit, he had never traveled more than 10 miles from his town.
Doe was given the opportunity to spend three weeks at MIT as part of their International Development Initiative program, after becoming a finalist in Innovate Salone. Innovate Salone’s a contest started by fellow Sierra Leone local and PhD candidate at MIT David Sengeh to challenge and stimulate young people to solve many of the complex issues of their country which has recently emerged from a decade long civil conflict. (more…)

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Low-Tech Factory: Animal Growth

Simple technologies enable objects to take form before your eyes

One of the gorgeous explorations from the students at ECAL, the University of Art and Design Lausanne, Animal Growth challenges the automated production processes that most designers have come to rely on.

In Animal Growth, simple hand tools are utilised to break down the manufacturing process of expanded foam animal toys. Templates that enable an operator to cut, glue, and fill the animal form have the appearance of something much more refined than the prototyping model-shop roots that these techniques would suggest.

The Low-Tech Factory projects were recently exhibited as a part of a local design festival, and showcased six fun, unique production processes. Each project is supported by an engaging video of the process in action, where you can really get a taste for the physicality of the forms as they come to life before your eyes.

“Students look at showcasing the manufacturing process of an object, from the machine to the finished product.”

Click through to see the Animal Growth clip, and we’ve also thrown in the other quirky Low-Tech Factory videos. They’re just too good to skip over.

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3D printing to help restore and protect marine life

3D printing sustainable ocean blocks

3d printed reef units

An Australian company Sustainable Oceans International, has become the first in the world to develop artificial reefs using large construction size 3D printers.

Demand on global fish stocks, pollution, increasing ocean acidification and climate change are all making their impact on ocean life and reef systems around the world. Notable in Australia, is that the Great Barrier Reef has already lost half of its coral. As reefs provide an important home for marine life in the world’s oceans there is an increasing awareness of the need to protect these unique systems. (more…)

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Hummingbird is a ‘pre-Arduino’ for kids

Making it even easier to get into electronics

We all know and love Arduino, and what it has done for the rapidly growing world of DIY electronics. Yet the complexities of Arduino can be a bit much for young makers, and education enthusiast Tom Lauwers just may have the answer to harness that creativity while it is still fresh.

Heralded as a kind of “pre-Arduino”, the Hummingbird kit from Birdbrain consists of a custom controller that connects to a range of motors, sensors and lights that allow kids to build their own functional robots and more.

“…the Hummingbird controller is designed for kids who have never touched electronics or programming before.”

It’s really easy to get started making fully functional electronic devices, but don’t take our word for it. Click through to the source where Tom talks it all through in a neat clip featuring an animatronic cardboard dragon made by some 10 year old kids. Now that’s seriously fun.

Hummingbird via Engadget

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Wood-based 3D printing filament that can print wood grain

If it looks like wood, smells like wood, and works like wood, is it wood?

LAYWOO-D3 is a wood-based 3D printing filament by inventor Kai Parthy intended for the RepRap and (possibly) similar machines. It is 40% recycled wood with binding polymers for the remainder.

3D printing with wood is remarkable enough, but this filament has the ability to mimic wood grain by varying the temperature of the print head. A temperature of 180 degrees Celcius produces a light color and 245 degrees Celcius produces a darker color. After printing, the “wood” can be cut, ground, and painted.

LAYWOO-D3 is currently available for sale via eBay and German RepRap GmbH in a 3mm thickness in small, trial amounts.
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Center pivot pen plotter

Unique CNC drawing machine: Is this the shape of things to come?

There is no shortage of DIY CNC and 3D printing devices, and although some do stand out from the crowd, they all tend to follow a geometry that is becoming quite familiar. Setting out to change this paradigm, Canadian techno-sculptor David Bynoe conceived of a CNC plotter that is focused around polar coordinates.

The Center Pivot Pen Plotter has only one arm that spins on a base, and moves in and out from a central point.

“It gives you a very large drawing surface with a minimum of moving parts compared to a standard x,y Cartesian plotter.”

Drawing inspiration from the notable dual polar Eggbot and Polargraph examples, David has gone one step further in simplifying the mechanism by using only a single polar coordinate system. This creates special challenges, but the code that drives the Arduino-equipped device has been written to compensate for geometric distortions. As the video after the break shows, he’s done remarkably well…

“The goal was to get it working and then worry about making it pretty, which I will get to eventually.”

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