Laser Cut Cube Reveals Hand Painted Images

A unique image appears on each rotation of this transparent acrylic cube

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There was definitely some careful planning going on when artist Thomas Medicus put together this remarkable laser cut cube titled ‘Emergence Lab’. Upon rotation, a new hand-painted image is revealed from each orientation with a dynamic three-dimensional impact. It really is quite mesmerising… continue reading below for an HD clip of the cube being rotated through all axis.

The cube consists of 216 laser cut acrylic strips assembled into a grid structure. This enables an anamorphic painting to be positioned on each side that is only able to be seen in complete clarity from one specific viewpoint. In order to retain the integrity of the transparent cube, the images have to occupy the same physical space as their counterparts on the opposite side; adding to the complexity of the hand painted designs.

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By using this method of construction for the cube, it makes the task of applying the images much more straightforward – but also results in unwanted reflections within the structure. To get around this, Thomas came up with a clever solution: fill the cube with a silicon oil that has the same refractive index as the acrylic structure. This gives the visual impression of a solid glass block, as the individual facets and surfaces of the acrylic strips blend away to become almost invisible.

 

Can you think of other ways to use silicon oil to enhance the impact of laser cut acrylic from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below.

Emergence Lab via My Modern Met

How To Make Laser Cut Interlocking Acrylic Designs

The Importance of Radii

We’ve written about using ‘nodes’ with 3D objects made from wood before, but suggested it may not work for acrylic because it is more brittle and tends to be less forgiving.

However, after working with Drownspire to develop their Vambit toy into a product for a giveaway at Makerfaire, it soon became apparent that you can successfully use nodes when making with acrylic.

Nodes in Acrylic: Two tricks to getting it right

Firstly the nodes need to be a bit smaller; something in the realm of <0.15mm/0.006″ on each side. This means they won’t cover the same range as when used in wood but they still remain a good option.

Secondly, how you treat the end of the slot is the key. If you have a sharp corner, which is typical in a laser cut slot, the acrylic will always fracture at that point. See this example:

Effectively a sharp corner is creating a weak point in the acrylic. Not such a good thing when this is an important structural part of the design! A small radius in that corner can do wonders to transfer the forces from one face of the hole or slot to the other, and reduces the risk of the material splitting at the corner.

How large should they be?

The larger the radii the stronger it will be so you will need to make an aesthetic decision on how big you can go. On the Vambit the radii was tiny, at just 0.26mm, and it was enough to make a noticeable difference. We suggest aiming for 0.5mm and greater if your design will allow it.

Where to place the nodes

Another trick to keep in mind is putting the nodes on a part of the design where you can guarantee the length. That way you don’t need to bet on the thickness changing and the range of variation is a lot smaller. This occurs when you have 2 edges that are cut by the laser that are the friction edges. This works if you are using tabs but is not necessarily the case if you are using a slotting joint.

For example, in the design of this spinning top Dan put the nodes on the tab as opposed to on the slot.

The tabs on the triangle parts fit into the slots on the circle part. Dimension X and Y will be the same each time as cut by the laser, therefore he put the nodes on these parts. Had the nodes been positioned on the slot for the handle (as in diagram below), the friction points would be against the surface of the material, a part that can vary if the thickness varies.

Other types of connections

An alternative joint is the t-slot joint which is popular with people who make more engineering-type products. This joint uses tabs to locate pieces then a t-shaped slot with a captive nut. This type of joint is great. You can slightly oversize the holes to allow for oversized material and the bolt will hold it snug together. If you use the radii on the corners of the cut outs you greatly reduce the risk of cracking the acrylic by over tightening the bolt.

If you want to go another step, rubber washers can also reduce the chance of over tightening and maintain tension in the bolt so it won’t come undone through vibrations etc.

Hopefully these tips will help you with your next laser cutting project, or perhaps give you the extra tools you need to finalize a design you’re working on.

We’ll be interested to hear your experiences using radii too, and any other advice you might have for people wanting to make 3D designs using acrylic. Let us know below!

This handy advice from Dan Emery was sourced from the Ponoko Support Forums.

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…)

Laser Cutting On Display

Laser cut hands, pins, girls, bananas, and bow ties!

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Above is a POS display for a Samsung Camera. It is laser cut from acrylic like Ponoko.com‘s own Glass Green,  with an application of mirrored foil and comes from Milos Paripovic.

After the jump, pins, girls, bananas, and bow ties… (more…)

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…)

Laser Cut House Cats!

Laser cut  houses, and cats!

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Above is a Pop-Up Village. They are laser cut and etched into wood, like Ponoko.com‘s own Birch Plywood, and come from Thea Starr of 6 By 6 Arts.

After the jump, some cats… (more…)

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #23

Laser Cut Fashion

laser cut fashion example

The intricate designs enabled by laser cut textiles are no longer an exclusive novelty for the haute couture runway scene. The bold fashion statements enabled by laser cutting are now within the grasp of the everyday consumer, with leather, silk and other textiles ideally suited to the digital manufacturing process.

Delicate patterns reminiscent of fine lace and needlework lend themselves well to laser cutting, but as we can see in the image above, bold shapes and iconic imagery can be just as effective.

With some clever design thinking, laser cutting has also enabled more exotic materials to become wearable garments. The wooden t-shirt below by Pauline Marcombe uses laser cut panels attached together with wire, transforming what was once a rigid material into a malleable interlocking form of modern body armour.

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Why would you turn to laser cutting for brand promotion? For one, the eye-catching impact of these fashion items invites attention and a healthy curiosity… but also, thanks to the laser cutting process, there is much scope for design freedom and customization at a price that is accessible to the consumer.

How can your brand stand out amongst all the other fashonistas 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.

Let’s Talk Ideas

Ponoko designs & makes promo products from scratch for event marketers.  Hit us up for a free quote.

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Laser Cut Self Portraits

Laser cut Frida, unicorns, boxes, signs, and a new Kickstarter!

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Above are Frida Kahlo earrings. They are laser cut and hand painted wood like Ponoko.com‘s own Birch Plywood, and come from Ave Rose Collections.

After the jump, unicorns, boxes, signs, and a new Kickstarter… (more…)

Bare Bones of Laser Cuting

Laser cut skulls, elephants, a broken clock, and some abstraction!

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Above are Calavera skull charm bracelets. They are laser cut and etched from mirrored acrylic like Ponoko.com‘s own and come from Guy Blanco.

After the jump, elephants, a broken clock, and some abstraction… (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…)