Laser cutting, clearly…

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #225

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

Above is a laser cut see through birdhouse designed by Joe Mansfield of engrave.

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After the jump, cheese, a cathedral, and a girl… (more…)

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The silence of laser cutting

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #224

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

Above are laser cut acrylic deaths head moth hair clips from Curiology Gallery.

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After the jump, big foot, honeycomb, suburbs, and metatron… (more…)

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How far into the material does laser engraving cut?

All you need to know about laser etched depth

When your design calls for laser etching, whether it is Line Engraving or Area Fill Engraving, the laser burns away a very small amount of material – just enough to make an impression on the surface. The lasers are calibrated to provide a crisp contrasting visual effect, rather than a guaranteed depth. But if you still want to know how deep laser engraving goes, we can take a closer look and also talk about a few alternatives for when your design requires a greater depth than laser engraving can achieve.

How deep does the laser cut?

This varies from material to material, but it is always just a surface impression. In 3mm acrylic you can expect around 0.25mm (0.01″) deep, and in some of the woods the laser will cut up to 0.5mm (0.02″) deep. To go further into the material than this will increase the risk of undesirable damage such as warping (in acrylic) and excessive burning (in timber).

In certain circumstances it can be difficult to predict exactly how laser engraved lines or areas will come out, as we can see in the sample images. Note how the very small Area Engraved text is patchy and even has some elements missing. Here is what Josh has to say in the Ponoko Support Forums:

One thing you can do to improve the quality of the engraving is put a vector engraving line around your text or shapes to make the edges more crisp. There are pros and cons for using this technique and it largely depends on which material you are using. Personally I like a heavy raster engraving on any of the plastics but a medium raster engraving with a medium vector outline on the timbers.

With this in mind, we recommend experimenting with different settings on a test piece (the P1 template is handy for this!) before going ahead with the final design. You can also learn a lot by checking out the Material Samples, and this very handy Laser Engraving Cheat Sheet.

The Ponoko Support Forums are a great resource when it comes to learning all about laser cutting, and you’ll find guides on both line engraving and area engraving complete with sample images in a range of materials and tips on how to get the best results.

What if I want to go deeper than this?

Laser engraving is not always the way to go… some designs call for a larger amount of material to be removed than laser engraving can provide. Depending on your requirements, there are a number of ways to achieve this. Two of the most common solutions are:

1. Use a secondary process to remove the material (for example, cutting a strip halfway through the material using a milling machine or table saw). This is not a part of the Ponoko service, and would need to be done in your own workshop or maker space.

2. Build up the structure from several layers of material. Control the depth of cavities and cutouts by placing a solid layer on the bottom and then reducing the size of subsequent layers to create the required change in depth. This can be easily achieved with laser cutting and is often used to make enclosures for electronics in acrylics from the Ponoko Materials Catalog.

What has your experience been using different laser engraving settings? Let us know in the comments below.

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Laser cut skulls

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #223

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

Above is a paper craft skull from Cardboard Sarfari.

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After the jump, another skull, a birdhouse, Mickey, and a ukulele… (more…)

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Clocking some laser cutting

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #221

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

Above is a laser cut plywood clock from ardeola Home Decor.

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After the jump, clocks, light, mirrors, art, and Storm Troopers… (more…)

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Laser cut junk

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #220

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

Above is a laser cut card from Bielyse.

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After the jump, half a man, and to flamingos… (more…)

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Laser cut smoke

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #219

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

Above is a laser cut zebra wood vaporizer box from Michael’s Handmade.

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After the jump, circuits and charging stations… (more…)

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Ponoko Customer Blasts Past Kickstarter Goal in 3 hours

Another Kickstarter success using Ponoko

UPDATE: The Electric Eel Wheel has now raised over $40,928! Huge congrats to Maurice & Emily on reaching over 800% of their goal!

Maurice Ribble is the Boston based engineer behind the Electric Eel Wheel – a clever electric spinning wheel that makes it easy to spin the fiber of your choice into yarn.

Maurice’s Kickstarter campaign blew past it’s $5,000 goal in just three hours – and is on track to break $20,000 in under a week.

The Electric Eel Wheel was already a huge hit in the hobby fiber, spinning, and knitting communities, so it made sense to make the jump to Kickstarter. “I figured this would be a good project for it because nothing like it has been done before” Maurice says, ”my wife who’s been helping with this project really liked the idea of doing a Kickstarter so that’s what really decided it for me.”

Traditionally, yarn is spun with a foot powered spinning wheel – a time consuming process that tends to be hard to master. While there are electric alternatives available, quality wheels are costly- with price tags of $800 or more. This gap in the market was part of the inspiration for the Electric Eel Wheel.

Using laser cut parts from Ponoko, Maurice and his wife Emily set out to create their own electric spinning wheel that was affordable, while still being as good or better than the ones currently on the market.

Maurice says using Ponoko made it easy to reduce costs by iterating through different designs. “I was surprised at how much spending some time optimizing the part layout cut my costs.” he says  ”For me it almost cut my costs by half because I was able to share a lot of edges and use the materials more efficiently.”

While this is the fourth commercially available version of the wheel, Maurice was still able to find ways to improve the design and add new innovative features:

“Once I get my hand on the laser cut Ponoko pieces I assemble it and I almost always get ideas on how I might improve it during assembly. When those improvements are getting small I know I’m at the stage where it’s good enough.”

Maurice credits the research he did, as well as the feedback he got early on as the key to Electric Eel Wheel’s explosive success. “I read a lot about how to launch a Kickstarter campaign. Making a good video is important so I spent a lot of time on that.” Maurice says, “I shared it with a few close friends to build my confidence and get feedback on what I might tweak.”

When we asked Maurice what advice he would give to people just starting out with Kickstarter, he warned entrepreneurs-to-be not to let expansion or addition of new features hurt your project:

“Don’t let feature creep hurt your project. First you need to decide when it’s good enough to put on Kickstarter. Some of the ideas that come in are good and I do leave my options open, but you need to always consider pros and cons before adding something.”

Want to get your hands on your own Electric Eel wheel and start spinning your own yarn? The Electric Eel Wheel is available through Kickstarter at a discounted price, with packages ranging from $149-$209.

Got a great hardware idea of your own? Make and sell it with Ponoko.

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Laser cut voids

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #218

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

Above is a laser cut leather top from Julio Alejandro Rodriguez Pozos.

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After the jump, lace, leaf, cipher, and tape… (more…)

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Laser cut girls, girls, girls

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #216

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

Above are laser cut and etched cherry wood embroidery floss holders from Pie For Blackbirds.

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After the jump, clocks, lamps, girls, and lips… (more…)

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