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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Let’s take a closer look at Matte Acrylic

A material that enables your design to shine

When we talk about laser cutting in acrylic, most of the time the focus is on materials with that familiar glossy surface. Today we are taking a closer look at glossy acrylic’s lesser-known (but just as fantastic) cousin, Matte Acrylic.

Available in the Ponoko Materials Library in both black and white options, Matte Acrylic is textured on the top surface, and glossy (like the regular acrylic) on the back. We have a detailed post in the Ponoko Support Forums, which runs through many of the characteristics of this versatile material. Supporting images provide real-world examples and help to clarify whether Matte Acrylic is the right choice for your next laser cutting project.

Learn about how to best make use of this material by combining it with glossy acrylic on larger projects. See examples of the contrast between shiny and matte finishes, and how to use metallic paint to fill laser etched details. There are also a few quirks to discover that you may not have encountered before, and the tutorial includes handy tips and tricks such as advice on removing protective paper.

See more in the full post on Ponoko’s Support Forums.

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It’s always time for laser cuttng

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #206

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

Above is a laser cut Chrono Trigger wood clock from GameVetz.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, boxes, stencil, and girls in yoga pants… (more…)

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Vector and Raster engraving examples

Free design shows exactly what will happen in your material of choice

The mysteries of how to get the right settings for vector and raster engraving is something that can take time and practise to fully unravel. Thanks to this free file from James Stokebrand, you can create a mini laser etching cheat sheet in your favorite Ponoko material.

The file is set to work perfectly with Ponoko’s P1 template size, and it includes a range of raster fill values, vector line fill values and even some handy tips for designs that use vector linework.

Pictured above is the file etched onto blonde bamboo, and James has also provided high-res sample images in black acrylic and cardstock. Although there is nothing that can truly replace holding a physical sample in your hand, zooming in on these images is pretty close to the next best thing.

Take a look on the Ponoko Support Forums to see for yourself. The file can be downloaded from the Ponoko Showroom, and if it all looks too confusing for you (don’t worry, we all start somewhere!) there is a simpler version of what James has provided all cut and ready to go on the Ponoko Samples page.

via Ponoko Support Forums

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Laser cut maps and numbers

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #205

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

Above is a laser cur walnut plywood map of Ohio from Cut Maps.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, Chicago, police boxes,, 10, and three… (more…)

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Rope-O’Matic Kickstarter closing soon

Last chance to get your hands on a laser cut rope braiding machine

When we first came across an earlier version of this laser cut mechanical marvel, it had our heads in quite a spin. The 21st century makeover of an 1890’s industrial artefact is a fantastic example of how laser cutting can enable accessibility to broader technological possibilities.

Ever true to his word, David from Mixed Media Engineering has refined the design and launched a Kickstarter campaign for what is now known as the Rope-O’Matic.

With a diverse range of applications it is hardly surprising that this very unique laser cut product has eclipsed its modest campaign funding goal.

Check it out before you miss your chance… don’t tie yourself in knots, there are only a few days left to secure yourself one of these novel devices.

Rope-O’Matic via Kickstarter

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How to etch mirror acrylic

Laser etched impact made easy

As the Festive Season approaches and we become more and more enamoured with all things shiny, here are our tips on how to use laser etching for some serious impact on mirror acrylic.

People love the combination of crisp laser definition with the reflective sheen of mirror acrylic, and to create these effects there are a few key points to remember. The main one is that you’re not etching into the surface of the acrylic, but rather through the reflective coating on the rear of the material.

Another tip that may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it can sneak up on you – remember to reverse the artwork so that it reads correctly when viewed from the other side of the sheet.

For an informative collection of examples including vector and raster engraving, as well as different approaches to filling the etched designs, head over to the Ponoko Support Forums for the full scoop.

Ponoko presents: Laser Etched Mirror Acrylic

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Laser cut multiples

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #204

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

Above are laser cut and powder coated steel bookends from Design Atelier Article.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, bees, octopi, chess, and embroidery… (more…)

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Laser Cut Portable Chair

Put your tired legs up and relax in style

For Kyoto Institute of Technology student Ryo Kosaka, every leisurely bike ride should finish up with a relaxing cup of coffee. And what better way to put your feet up, than to bring along your own portable chair?

The laser cut plywood chair disassembles, with all the structural elements – including a bonus side table – neatly tucking away inside the seating surface for storage on a bike. Assembly instructions are etched onto the underside, making it quick and easy to pop together when you need to rest your legs and take in the view.

Click through for a neat little clip of the chair components being laser cut, and then put to good use out in the countryside.   (more…)

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Laser cutting, not found

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #203

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

Above is a laser cut felt coaster from The Little Factory.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, a bag and a blazer… (more…)

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