How To Make Your Own Laser Cut Precision Tools

Taking measures into your own hands

Just Add Sharks Laser Cut Caliper

How do you know if your projects are as precise as can be? While we can get a certain level of control by squeezing our fingers together and taking an educated guess, sometimes you need the cold hard facts. That’s where measuring devices such as vernier callipers come in handy to narrow down the numbers.

Inspired by some 3D printed measuring tools they had seen, the guys over at Just Add Sharks fired up their lasers to cut a set of fully functional callipers (above) from 1.5mm birch ply. The components were laser cut and glued together, and then to round things off an additional set of radius guides (below) allow for internal and external radii to be checked for accuracy.

Just Add Sharks radius guides

Looking for a fun weekend project? The files for these laser cut precision tools can be downloaded from the source article at Just Add Sharks, so head over there if you’d like to make your own laser cut measuring guides in your material of choice from the Ponoko Personal Factory.

via Just Add Sharks

3 New Materials To Inspire New Projects: Peel & Stick Veneers

Sticker Products

Need something new to inspire your next laser cut wood project? Can’t find the right material that offers flexibility and versatility? Check out our latest additions to our material selection. The wood design on these peel & stick veneers offer incredible detail.

The premium grade real wood veneer has a pressure sensitive adhesive backing. The veneer is quite flexible along the grain and can be applied to curved surfaces. They’re great for jewelry projects, to stick on to acrylics or to create amazing 3D stickers. Your imagination is the only limit to you how you can use the walnut, bamboo amber and bamboo blonde peel & stick veneers for your next laser cut wood project.

Click on the images below to get all the details on our new premium peel & stick veneers.

Peel & Stick Veneer – Walnut

Walnut has rich, chocolate hues, auburn undertones, and beautiful grain patterns that make it appealing as material for projects that need stronger color contrast.

laser cut wood veneer

Peel & Stick Veneer – Bamboo Amber

Bamboo has a beautiful fine grain which may have some visible joints on the surface to break up the grain — giving it a unique appearance. The Amber version has a  golden brown color, a great choice for neutral-looking jewelry projects.

laser cut wood veneer - bamboo amber

Peel & Stick Veneer – Bamboo Blonde

The natural occurence of joints on this other new bamboo is also a welcome break from the fine grain. It has a golden color that is a few shades lighter than the Amber version.

laser cut wood veneer - bamboo blonde

 

 

We’d love to know your ideas for things you can make with these new materials. Comment them below.

How To Make a Laser Cut Wobbler

Get your creativity rolling with this simple DIY laser cut project

laser cut wobbler 1

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…)

Understanding Button Design

A Comprehensive Product Design Guide to Push All Your Buttons

button design for laser cutting

Even with the prevalence of touch-enabled devices in our lives, the tactile button still holds its own as one of the most important physical design elements in a product. Throughout your day, you will encounter dozens (if not hundreds) of examples ranging from the thoroughly satisfying and highly engineered through to the hastily made, poorly molded and barely functional.

Getting those buttons right can be tricky, but thanks to design engineer Christian Brown’s Button Design Showcase we are able to get our heads around some of the important considerations that can help to ensure a successful outcome for your laser cut products.

“Buttons are a chance for both comfortable ergonomics and increased intuition in your product design… Large buttons surrounded by smaller ones indicate relative importance. A volume rocker button indicates a level going up and down. A single big red button says, ‘PANIC!’.”

 

How About Button Design for Laser Cutting?

By incorporating Christian’s button design insights with the thinking behind lattice (or living) hinges, we can use these same design principles for laser cutting. Enclosures for DIY electronics projects will often have holes or cavities laser cut to allow for the insertion of mechanical switches or buttons. It would certainly make the design a whole lot more interesting if these mechanical elements can become a more integral part of the laser cut pattern!

Laser Cut Buttons: Integrated

One way to do this is to add integrated spring elements to the surface of an enclosure, enabling buttons to be a part of the product housing itself. The DIY cellphone from David Mellis shows this quite effectively:

laser cut wood cellphone laser cut buttons

Laser Cut Buttons: Materials

Another option is to use an alternate material that can be fixed to the casing mechanically, much like is done in manufactured products. Alternate materials can include:

  • – color contrast (eg: different colored acrylic)
  • – translucent (eg: clear acrylic, back-lit for extra zing)
  • – rubber/silicone (using laser cutting and/or 3D printing to make a simple mold)

 

laser cut buttons emu caseimage source: BMOW

laser cut button 3d print
image source: roland.bz

Learn About Button Design

If your laser cut designs have buttons of any kind, then you should find Christian Brown’s Right On The Button: Using Design as a Showcase for Excellence an interesting read indeed. Gaining an understanding of what goes into the button design for manufactured products can help your own workflow, and aid in using laser cutting to its full potential.

Fictiv via Solidsmack

 

How To Make a Customized Jigsaw Puzzle

Laser Cut Educational Toys

laser cut puzzle 1

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 – #39

Laser Cut Summer BBQ Essentials

Laser Cut Beer Caddy Tom Keddie

As the days get longer and the hint of Summer warmth spreads its cheer, gathering together for a BBQ is a great way to reconnect with friends and family. For those who are hosting and also as gifts for (or from) the invited guests, laser cut BBQ tools and trinkets can make any event a memorable experience. Let’s take a look at a few BBQ ideas for creative brands and agencies this Summer.

Laser Cut Beer Sleeves

Pictured above, this handy beer caddy will enable up to 8 bottles or cans to be easily transported. The design makes use of the strengths of laser cutting, with interlocking components that require no adhesives and plenty of space to laser etch company, event or personalised details. Carting drinks from place to place doesn’t need to be an awkward balancing act – a laser cut beer caddy will get those drinks to your guests in style.

Laser Etched Cutting Boards

The broad, flat surface of a wooden cutting board or cheese platter is an ideal location for laser etched brand messaging. Adding details from an event, or personalising with quirky snippets and brand messaging will make this communal table item a memorable conversation starter or possibly even a desired keepsake. Examples: Dinner is Coming from Wicked Wooden Things, Mom’s recipe from 3D Carving, Lionel Richie from Darkling Designs 10.

Laser-Etched-Cutting-Boards

Laser Cut Bottle Opener

Having carted beers to all your guests, they will need a way to open the bottles. The profiles of openers are many and varied, and as these examples show, they are well suited to laser cutting. Whether you choose to have a little fun with the forms used (Beer & Friends from Hyde HousePorsche 911 classic from Racetrack Style); or incorporate the opener into an ingenious multi-tool (Hedgehog by Zootility Tools) or maybe go super-tiny like the Pangea Pico, the potential to get really creative with this simple and handy product is fantastic.

Laser-Cut-Bottle-Openers

 

Laser Cut Coasters

The surface and outline of the coaster can also be used for creating functional laser cut bottle openers, but if you’re not going that far, simply creating interesting shapes can be more than enough. Consider the laser cut and etched street map series titled I Kinda like it here by the National Design Collective, further quirky fun from Zootility and interlocking Penrose tile coasters from PhaseSpaceDesign in the Ponoko Showroom.

laser-cut-coasters

Each of these products present both an interesting form and a generous surface area where laser etching can be applied. As customised event collateral, they make for ideal promotional giveaways because they cleverly combine the feature of having fun with the function of being truly useful. All this happens while establishing further brand recognition and recall.

What other Summer BBQ Essentials can be customised for your clients 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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Laser Cutting from a Galaxy Far Far Away

When The Force is strong

laser cut millenium falcon

When May the Fourth comes around each year, a whole galaxy of sci-fi fans kind of go nuts – well, more nuts than usual. It’s a fun time for these movie enthusiasts, and making models of the classic space vehicles from the original films can be a great way to share your enthusiasm with fellow fanatics.

Laser cutting is perfect for replicating the complex surface details of the iconic space vehicles, as has been well demonstrated by Thingiverse user Costaricaorca in the image above.

For others, the surface details take second place behind the actual shape of the vehicles. Once again, laser cutting provides an accessible way to replicate these forms and the following examples show how you don’t need much before it’s quite clear where the reference for the various machines comes from.

laser-cut-star-wars-thingiverse

Millenium Falcon by Killor; Waker by BillyMcCoy; and Star Destroyer with Tie Fighters by Breakfastsandwich

There are more like these to be found, uploaded by enthusiasts of all skill levels and experience to design community sites such as Thingiverse. Some have been made on laser cutters at local maker spaces, while others are zipped through during ‘spare time’ by employees lucky enough to have an on-site laser cutter at work. Another option that is accessible to all is to download files from Thingiverse and then have the parts cut in the material of your choice in the Ponoko Personal Factory.

May the fourth be with you…

 

Get Creative with 3 New Two-Color Acrylics

Have you seen our latest two-color acrylics in modern tones? We hope these spark your creativity and inspire you for your next laser-cut project. Our new acrylics are 0.8 – 2.1mm thick. With a thin layer of a different colored plastic on top. Engraving reveals the second acrylic color underneath. This results in a dramatic effect perfect for making jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, point of sale displays and more.

We have three new two-color acrylics available:

White on Black

cut_edges_wite_on_black_large

Brushed Silver on Black 

cut_edges_silver_on_black_large

Black on White

cut_edges_black_on_white_large

What we love about the two-color  acrylic is how it changes the overall look of the finished product. Here’s a great example of brushed silver on black:

Promo products

 

Laser Cut Acrylic Bending Jig

Quick approach to controlling acrylic forming

laser cut acrylic bending jig

Laser cut acrylic has so much going for it, which is why this material’s variants are among the most popular of all the options in the Ponoko Materials Catalog. Designs for laser cut acrylic tend to follow a familiar pattern; boxy shapes, notched and stepped joins and slotted connections. But what happens when your form doesn’t fit this mold?

Ceramicist Chris Donnelly used laser cutting to build himself a basic bending jig that would enable the secondary manipulation of acrylic for his students at the Edinburgh Academy. Consisting of two laser cut side panels that are bolted onto a horizontal platform, the device allows for precise control across 180 degrees of movement thanks to a vertical plane that can pivot and lock into position.

Exactly what the students are making with this jig is yet to be revealed, but it’s great to see how some quick thinking and a clever laser cut design can upgrade the capabilities of their school workshop.

For those inspired to make a laser cut bending jig of their own, the Chris has shared the files on Thingiverse.

 

How To Make a Brushless Motor for Education

Exploring electromagnetism with DIY laser cut motor

laser cut brushless motor

Teaching kids about how motors work can be a lot of fun, particularly when they get to build and experiment on the motors themselves. So when engineer Matt Venn spotted a neat little 3D printed motor, he decided to make his own variation – this time using laser cut components and an Arduino to run the show.

The learning experience

Once all the kinks were worked out, the Arduino was replaced by a few cheap electronic components. This way, students have the opportunity to build the entire setup from scratch, mounting the electronics on a breadboard as they work out exactly what each component does.

The adjustable laser cut rotor has slots to hold different numbers and configurations of magnets, and this can be further extended by cutting custom rotors to suit alternate magnet arrangements.

This is a great project that encourages a hands-on approach to exploring electromagnetism by building a simple DC brushless motor. Consideration has been made to come up with a laser cut solution that can be assembled and studied within the time constraints of a science class workshop.

Matt has provided all of the files and extra info you need to get the motor up and running on GitHub, where you will also find a brief video walkthrough that highlights how the motor and supporting circuitry work.

Matt Venn via Hackaday