MicroSlice laser cutter now on Kickstarter

mini Arduino laser cutter & engraver kits

There was plenty of excited chatter when Greg Holloway posted his MicroSlice laser cutter on Instructables last year. Much of this involved people asking “where, when and how can I get one?” Well, the good news is that this diminutive digital manufacturing device is now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, and the pledges are coming in fast.

The MicroSlice is a nifty little unit. Once you take a closer look, it is easy to see why it won the 2013 Instructables Radioshack Microcontroller Contest. Imagine a laser cutter that sits on your desktop. Not impressed? Consider that it sits on your desktop, and takes up less space than a bowl of cereal. Less space than a takeout container. Less space than a burger with the lot. In fact it takes up less space than the power supply from a regular sized laser cutter.

The MicroSlice is a Build-It-Yourself kit, uses Open Source Software, and can be easily assembled at home by just about anyone.

The MicroSlice can cut paper, and engrave wood & plastic. Kits include an Arduino UNO R3 as well as 97 laser-cut parts and all necessary hardware to get up and running. The laser diode is a 100mw red laser, similar to what you’d find inside a DVD-RW drive. An option is available to supercharge the MicroSlice with a 200mw laser.

With a truly miniature work area of 50mm x 50mm (2″ x 2″) users will be choosing their projects carefully.  For bigger projects, there is always Ponoko.

Learn more, watch videos of the MicroSlice in action, and make a pledge over at Kickstarter.

MicroSlice on Kickstarter

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DIY Laser Cutter

Discover what a home-built laser cutter can do

There are a few examples out there of DIY laser cutters, with people sharing info and tips on how to make your own laser cutting device at home.

One such project comes from Jens Clarholm, and he has put together a neat overview of just what his home-built device is able to achieve as it cuts and/or engraves various readily available materials.

The laser cutter that Jens constructed boasts a 300mW laser diode sourced off eBay mounted in a wooden frame with drawer runners facilitating movement on both axes. Controlling the mechanism is a breeze thanks to an Arduino Nano and Easy Driver combo.  (more…)

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The Chart of Hand Tools

Over 300 illustrated tools of the trade

We may be immersed in the digital workflow of laser cutters and 3D printers, but there are still dozens of hand tools that makers are using every day.

The experts of laying it all out, Pop Chart Lab, have put together a wonderful collection in their print The Chart of Hand Tools.

“Meticulously illustrated tools celebrating the tinkerers and the doers: those who build, repair and create.”

Whether it’s the finely tuned measuring devices that ensure every dimension is just so, or the brute force of over 20 different hammers and mallets, somewhere on this illustrated panel will be the tools that enable you to realise your creativity.

Click through for a detailed view. (more…)

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CNCKing.com Volume 4: Rise of the CNC

Comprehensive CNC resource now available on Amazon

Here is some great news for the digital manufacturing community. As a CNC evangelist Jon Cantin is in a league all of his own, and he has put in a huge effort to share his knowledge and expertise in the latest CNCKing.com publication, volume 4: Rise of the CNC.

Imagine an encyclopaedic compendium of CNC know-how, covering topics from laser cutting and CNC routing all the way through to plasma cutting and 3D printing. It’s perfect for people looking to do their own laser cutting in wood, acrylic or metal and covers topics that even advanced makers will find insightful and valuable.

In this volume, infamous hardware hacker and DIY inventor extraordinaire Ben Heck kicks things off with a foreword that highlights how CNC technology influenced his own workflow and creative career.

So if the sound of 400+ pages of CNC knowledge has you on the edge of your seat, jump over to CNCKing.com to find out more about volume 4: Rise of the CNC. The publication is now available as a digital download or in printed format from Amazon as well.

via CNCKing.com

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Laser cutting wood to make the Stewart Platform

Keeping projects in balance with DIY robotic device

The Stewart platform is an ingenious robotic device that provides flexible movement of a working surface across six degrees of freedom. Often used to support flight simulators and telescopes, they are also an essential component of many serious university projects.

After observing that more time is often spent on preparing a reliable platform than on the project itself, Dan Royer has set out to build a standard platform that universities can make use of across a range of projects.

Large Stewart platforms use hydraulics to manipulate heavy loads quickly and precisely. Currently, Dan’s version works on a smaller scale using a platform built from laser cut wood with stepper motors providing motion control.

It is quite a challenge to deliver mechanical precision that is also strong and smooth when in motion. The test rigs that Dan has constructed are powered by Adafruit’s stepper motor controller boards, all driven by an Arduino. The task of keeping all six stepper motors working together is particularly tricky, so in pursuit of the most stable outcome the Gcode demo software is available as an open source download on github.

Marginally Clever via Hack a Day

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Spin your own Wool Yarn with the Electric Eel Wheel

Maurice Ribble designs a hardware hit for fiber hobbyists.

Spinning wheels always bring to mind fairy tales: Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold in exchange for a maiden’s first born child, Sleeping Beauty cursedly pricking her finger on the spindle.

But luckily, Maurice Ribble’s story isn’t so grim (pun intended.) Maurice is a computer engineer who lives with his wife Emily in the Boston area. “I always say my wife’s first love is knitting because she’s done it for much longer than she’s known me,” he says.

Emily often spins her own yarn for her knitting projects and totes a manual spinning wheel to her knitting group. “The mechanics of the spinning wheel were fascinating to my engineering mind and her need to travel with it gave me some great reasons to set about making a very portable, electric spinning wheel,” Maurice explains.

Soon he had requests from Emily’s friends to make them one too. “One thing lead to another, and now you can buy them on the internet,” he says. And lots of people are buying them.

(more…)

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MakerBot Digitizer is almost here

Add a 3D scanner to your workflow

The easiest and fastest way to create your own unique 3D models is about to be released by MakerBot. Eagerly anticipated ever since an early prototype was unveiled in March, the MakerBot Digitizer is just about ready for action. This neat little device will turn almost any (smallish) object you can get your hands on into 3D designs you can share and print.

In an email alert from MakerBot this week, the following info was released that outlines some key features of the Digitizer.

- Simple, yet sophisticated software creates clean, watertight 3D models with just two clicks.
- Get a 3D digital design file in just minutes.
- No design skills, 3D modeling or CAD expertise required to get started.
- Outputs standard 3D design file formats that can be modified and improved in third-party 3D modeling programs, like Autodesk’s free software MeshMixer.
- Easily upload your unique scans directly to Thingiverse.com.

Could the MakerBot Digitizer fill a gap in your creative workflow? Hide the cat, and keep an eye on MakerBot for further updates including pricing and availability.

MakerBot Digitizer via The Next Web

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Arduino boards run an industrial machine

If you can build it, Arduino can run it.

Arduino’s massive success among the maker and hacker crowd is undisputed, but it’s usually seen more as something for experimenting and prototyping than a component for professional applications. JF Machines Ltd has handily proven that idea wrong with an industrial printer run by five unmodified Arduino boards.
(more…)

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Stratasys acquires MakerBot

$403m in stock takes MakerBot into the big, big league

There are some who say that MakerBot has done more for DIY 3D printing than almost any other company. Likewise, the venerable industry stalwart Stratasys has long held its own in professional circles. So it kind of makes sense that they should team up together.

The two companies have announced a proposed $403 million in stock to merge MakerBot into the Stratasys fold as a subsidiary entity. MakerBot would continue business as usual, with Bre Pettis remaining at the helm. The same goes for Thingiverse.com, MakerBot’s online portal for sharing user-generated 3D design content.

“…Partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring 3D technology to more people. I am excited about the opportunities this combination will bring to our current and future customers.”
- Bre Pettis

If you’re in New York, you can head down to MakerBot’s headquarters in Brooklyn on Thursday, June 20 at 10am for a joint news conference with Stratasys. The rest of us can access the event live at makerbot.com, and an archive will be made available at http://mbot.co/press062013.

Read the full press release from Stratasys here.

via Engadget

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Tracking the 17 year cicadas with an Arduino

Prepare for the coming swarmageddon with an excellent introduction to Arduino.

If you live in the Northeast USA, you probably know that the 17 year cicadas with soon emerge from the ground to serenade you with their surprisingly annoying mating calls. If are not lucky enough *cough* to live in the path of what has been called “swarmageddon”, the video will catch you up on the basics.

Radiolab, a podcast and public radio show, has put together an easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to build a soil thermometer with an Arduino and some basic parts. They even have the code ready for use. The cicadas emerge when the soil 8″ below the surface reaches 64º F (18º C). After the building the kit and measuring the soil temperature where you live, upload the result and your location on their site to help track the great emergence.

Via Hack a Day


Taylor Gilbert is a proponent of creative technology including Arduino, Processing, and repurposed hardware. Follow him @taylor_gilbert

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