How to transform an existing product

IKEA product hacking gets a facelift with some custom laser cutting

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Mass produced commercial products can make a fantastic base for custom laser cut additions. This IKEA wall fixture hack by Josh Reuss was originally posted in the Ponoko Support forums Show & Tell section, and provides a nicely resolved example of how laser cutting can be used to transform an existing product.

There is more to this than simply cutting out a shape that slips over the manufactured fitting. Josh came up with some clever ways to create the full sized panel from several smaller components, while keeping all joints concealed and obscured by the pattern details.

Follow the link for a thorough walkthrough of the process that saw an off-the-shelf product become a unique, eye-catching designer item with surprising ease. (more…)

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Laser cut wood(s)

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Above are laser cut tree branches shadowboxes from Shadow Fox Design.

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Top 10 Materials of 2014

Join us as we look back at the materials that hit it big in 2014.

The Ponoko Materials Catalog offers a wide variety of high quality materials for laser cutting. From those awesome new Premium materials down to plain old (but ever-so-useful) cardboard, there is a material option for every making scenario.

Join us as we take a look at the 10 most popular materials from 2014:

#10) Corrugated Cardboard – Double Layer

We start out countdown with one of our less glamorous materials: cardboard. Cardboard is a great material for prototyping your design and making it in another material later. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use cardboard in a final product. Check out these 20 inspirational designs made from good old fashioned recyclable cardboard.

Make something with cardboard! »

#9) Acrylic – White

White acrylic is one of Ponoko’s most versatile materials. To get an idea of the two opposite sides of the spectrum check out these polar bear snowflake ornaments from PepperSprouts, or this Synthesizer Enclosure from Glitched.

Make something with white acrylic! »
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Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #1

Check out this creative way to make an impact for your brand

This fetching set of Venetian Blinders may look like something from a 1980’s music video, but in actual fact it was featured at The Future Is Here, a 2013 design exhibition showcasing digital manufacturing.

Agencies and brands can take inspiration from cleverly simple laser cut products like this. Looking beyond their debatable merits as a fashion accessory, they are a perfect example of what can be made in your Ponoko Personal Factory at high volume and low cost.

Would you feel cool sporting a set of these? Creating a unique item that shows off your agency’s technical and creative skills in a fun, playful way is made even more memorable if your clients can wear it home!

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Laser cut Asia

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Above is a laser cut birch veneer pendant lamp from Fabripod.

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Laser cut Geneva Drive mechanism

Designing the gears to fit inside a laser cut Automata

The mechanical marvels that are the specialty of Rob Ives don’t just come together overnight. It takes a lot of careful planning and prototyping to get those gears working just right.

In this recent blog post, he reveals the mechanism that will be at the heart of an upcoming Automata. This arrangement of gears is called a Geneva Drive, and it was originally used as a safeguard to prevent clock springs from being over-wound.

“…a particularly interesting mechanism. There is a little window in the background of the model. Through the window you can see a portrait of a woman. As the mechanism runs I need the picture in the window to change to another portrait, then another, then another… and so on. I need the picture to be stay still for a set amount of time then flip quickly to the next picture as the mechanism runs.”

Rob designed the parts in Illustrator before laser cutting his prototypes. It will be exciting to see the final outcome, where these gears will work their mechanical magic.

You can learn more about the Geneva Drive in an earlier blog post from Rob, which features an animation of the gears in action. We often see Ponoko users creating laser cut gears from acrylic, card and wood. Perhaps this adaptation of the Geneva Drive will get your mind turning as well!

via Rob Ives: Notes

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A new year of laser cutting

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Above is a laser cut bamboo light from Michael Brady Designs.

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Using white wood filler to fill etchings

Making those detailed designs and laser etched text really pop

Laser etched details do often stand out pretty well in their own right, but sometimes it is a good idea to give them a helping hand.

Today we are revisiting an informative post in the Ponoko Support Forums that runs through using white wood filler to bring out the details on wood and plastic laser engraving.

The tutorial focuses on an example laser cut and etched from bamboo. Follow the link and you’ll be taken through the step-by-step process, including important tips such as remembering to clean off the smoke residue from the laser and how to avoid over-sanding in the finishing touches.

This is one way to do it – but we’ve seen people have great results with other techniques as well. Paints are ever-popular; model paints, acrylic paints… in fact paints of all kinds! Others use sharpie markers, crayons, and even glue mixed in with glitter particles.

Read the full tutorial to see if wood filler is the solution for your next laser etched project.

Ponoko Support Forums: White wood filler

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Above is a laser cut wood dragonfly ornament from Wood Notions.

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A truly useless end to the year

Closing out the year with a laser cut Useless Machine

If you’re wondering how to make the most of that ever-so-tempting Ponoko Boxing Day discount, here is a completely useless project idea.

How about building your very own laser cut Useless Machine? Thingiverse user Aaron posted this decorative version, along with instructions on how to make your own diabolical contraption. He has even included handy tips on customisation to suit different material thicknesses.

For those who don’t know, a Useless Machine consists of a simple box with a single switch on the top. Upon activating the switch, a hatch opens up and out pops a lever that turns the switch off again.

Originally invented by Artificial Intelligence pioneer Martn Minsky, the Useless Machine is kind of reminiscent of a 19th century novelty mechanical curio. If you do a bit of research you’ll find dozens of examples of how people have had fun with this idea by creating their own variations, and here is a nice video of Martin talking about what he terms the ‘most useless machine ever made’.

As a laser cutting project for both new and experienced makers, this could in fact prove to be quite useful after all.

Thanks to Aaron on Thingiverse.

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