Fold-out arm on a DIY laser cutter

Space saving portable design takes laser cutting on the road

Here is another interesting DIY laser cutter project, this time featuring a novel departure from the standard construction we are used to seeing.

Instead of running within a constrained space, the compact laser cutter has an arm that swings out in a format reminiscent of the RepRap 3D printer.

When the laser cutter is in use the arm opens up to 90 degrees perpendicular to the box and the laser head runs along it.

The main structural elements are made from aluminium extrusions, and there are a few custom CNC milled and 3D printed components to fill in the gaps and connect other off-the-shelf parts.

This looks to be a novel way to build a laser cutter that you can take on the road with you. No more heavy equipment fixed in place in the workshop… just be careful not to set it up on your grandma’s favourite coffee table!

For more info, including a thorough photo essay of the development process behind the fold-out laser cutter, click through to the source.

via DIY fold-out laser cutter

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Laser Cut Mitre Joints

Connecting planes with angled precision

Running interesting laser cutter experiments is one of the things that Just Add Sharks does best. In this exploration, they have addressed the question of how to break away from the mortice and tenon joints that have become so familiar in laser cut projects.

By creating a laser cut jig that holds the material at a specific angle, they were able to cut edges that can fit together in a manner that is clean and precise. No more stepped blocks and slots! Here is what the jig looks like:

Much easier to achieve than modifying the axis of the laser cutter itself, this jig provides a firm support to a pre-cut panel, and does not require any other machine modifications. The angle of the cut can be controlled by altering the vertical supports.

“Manually changing the angles like this is tiresome so the next sensible upgrade would be to build an ‘any angle, any material thickness’ jig for the same purpose, but that is a job for another day.”

The Just Add Sharks blog has an overview by Martin Raynsford that talks through a few of the considerations that led to the first successful cut. Having proven that it can be done with standard perpendicular joints, they adjusted a few specs on the jig to produce a icosahedron, pictured below.

via Just Add Sharks

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123D Make partners with Cricut

Giving 3D form to desktop cutting projects. Next stop, to the laser cutter!

Already well established as the gold standard for bringing super-simple 3D construction to the DIY masses, Autodesk 123D has announced an exciting partnership that goes one step further. They’ve teamed up with Cricut, the guys responsible for desktop electronic cutting machines that induce equal measures of desire and envy amongst Makers and Crafters.

The collaboration features a new series of easy-to-assemble 3D DIY projects including dinosaurs, rocket ships, creatures and homewares that are all geared towards owners of the Cricut machines.

Now, while this is a clearly targeted partnership that brings the clever slicing technology of 123D Make to users in the Cricut community, it is also a welcome reminder of the resources that are readily available and can be easily incorporated into your laser cutting workflow.   (more…)

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Turn your 3D printer into a laser cutter

L-CHEAPO conversion kit brings laser cutting to the masses

Imagine turning a desktop 3D printer into a laser cutter without compromising its printing capabilities. That’s what Matteo Borri from Robots Everywhere has done, and the L-CHEAPO laser cutter attachment is now the focus of a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign.

Capable of cutting 3/16″ wood and 1/4″ acrylic on any hobby grade 3D printer or CNC mill, this clever little attachment runs off the existing machine’s power supply and software environment. Once the attachment is set up and configured, in a matter of minutes you can swap back and forth from laser cutter to 3D printer functionality.

“you can switch from laser to printer mode and vice versa in less than two minutes, with no tools”

Why would you want to do this? For one thing, laser cut parts tend to be much tougher than the thermoplastics used in 3D printers. This means the scope of making possibilities is significantly widened, all from the one machine.

Matteo is looking out for the little guys with this project, with the goal of making laser cutting accessible to those who might otherwise be hindered by the substantial initial investment that is traditionally associated with purchasing a laser cutter.

“I hope that this allows high school shop classes, small universities and local hackerspaces to be able to work with a wider variety of materials and techniques”

He also promises that there are larger, more powerful lasers in the works. It will be interesting to see what the big brother to L-CHEAPO is capable of.

The 3D printed component is available to download from Thingiverse and you can head to Indiegogo for further info and project updates.

Here’s a little extra, just for fun. Proving that he is serious about his DIY laser cutting prowess, Matteo uploaded this geekily amusing clip of the Tetris theme song, as played by an L-CHEAPO laser cutter in action.

via Hackaday

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StippleGen experiments on a DIY laser cutter

Going dotty over laser cutting

When Jens Clarholm built his impressive DIY laser cutter, he was well aware of the limitations imposed by the low powered laser. While it may not cut through wood or steel, it does do a very neat job of cutting paper.

One great way he has explored this is by having a play with StippleGen2, a nifty program from Evil Mad Scientists. The program uses a special algorithm to convert an image into tiny dots. There are a number of ways to manipulate how it does this, as the calculations are repeated over and over again and the final graphic is refined. StippleGen2 is easy to use and a lot of fun.

For this experiment, Jens chose an iconic image of Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet.

After letting StippleGen2 crunch the numbers for a while I imported the resulting vector graphic file into inkscape and generated the G-code so that I could use my laser cutter to cut the image into black paper.

The cutting process took a little over 2 hours, which isn’t too bad when you consider that there are over 1000 holes in this particular image.

There is a lot more that StippleGen2 can do, so if you are intrigued by Jens’ experiment you can have a go with StippleGen2 yourself or learn more about Jens’ DIY laser cutter here.

via JensLabs

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Sketch It Make It

Draw what you imagine, and make your ideas real

Here at Ponoko, we are very serious about bringing laser cutting to the masses. So you can well imagine that our fingers are twitching with excitement at the potential of Sketch It Make It.

Developed by Blank Slate Systems, this clever little iPad app is all about quickly and easily generating files for digital manufacturing – particularly CNC, laser cutting and 3D printing. All it takes is an iPad, a finger to poke at the screen and an idea that is bursting to get out.

As is shown in the teaser clip above, your wobbly scribbles are magically transposed into neat geometric forms almost instantaneously. There are also a number of clever ways that the accuracy can be further refined down to a precision that will have a file ready for the laser cutter in no time.

Sketch It Make It hasn’t been made available to the public yet, but if you like what you see, sign up at the source to be notified when the app is released.

via Sketch It Make It

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Open Source Laser Cut CT Scanner

Taking a DIY approach to high tech imaging

Providing the magical ability to scan not only the surface, but also to reveal details of the insides of an object, the CT (computed tomography) scanner has quite literally changed the way we see ourselves.

Modern CT scanners are frightfully expensive and are usually found in hospitals but Canadian-born Peter Jansen has built one himself out of laser cut wood.

“After seeing the cost for my CT scan, I decided it was time to try to build an open source desktop CT scanner for small objects, and to do it for much less than the cost of a single scan.”

With a design quite similar to the early commercial CT scanners, Peter’s device began as a quarter-scale laser cut acrylic version that he whipped up in a single day.

He then used this mockup to help refine the design, under the watchful gaze of a friendly house cat. (more…)

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Etch A Sketch controls on a laser cutter?

Arduino-based modification turns laser cutting into a hands-on affair

Just in time for International Arduino Day, this fun project from Just Add Sharks really has our fingers twitching.

Imagine controlling a serious laser cutter with the dynamic ease of an Etch A Sketch. Having first toyed with the idea years ago, Just Add Sharks have finally followed through and attached a fully functional Etch A Sketch controller to their laser cutter. Talk about dreams coming true!

Complete with authentic twiddly knobs and retro-Etch styling (all laser cut, of course) the modification uses an Arduino Pro Mini to bypass the machine’s existing wiring.

Click through for a video of the controller in action, where you can see the different functionality of either Etch or Cut being demonstrated.

(more…)

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Original ideas to laser cut (not really)

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #167

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

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

Above is a laser cut covered notebook from Creative Use of Technology.

After the jump, scarf buckles, dinosaurs, lips,  love, and a laser cutter… (more…)

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Ponoko Customer Turns Product Into $100,299 In Just 20 Days

Ponoko + Kickstarter = Designer’s Dream

We covered this briefly before, but it’s going bananas! So we thought it was a good idea to introduce how designers are using Ponoko and Kickstarter to make and sell their products.

Jeremy Williams is a San Francisco based engineer and video game enthusiast with a passion for pixel art. His latest project, the Game Frame, is a fully-programmable grid of LEDs designed to make it easy to display animated pixel art anywhere. Jeremy’s product on Kickstarter just passed $100,000, and is trending to hit over $150,000 before closing.

The Game Frame was initially just a fun personal project – Jeremy loves 8-bit pixel art and wanted to find a way to display it on his walls – but after his prototype was demonstrated for Tested in June, the positive feedback inspired him to see if he could turn the Game Frame into a real product.

Using laser cut parts from Ponoko, Jeremy went through several iterations to refine his design. After months of prototyping, and multiple prototypes, Jeremy arrived at a Game Frame that was sleeker looking, cheaper to build, and easier to use.

With a new Game Frame in hand Jeremy set out to test the market viability of his new product.  There’s many ways to do this, like setting up a website, an ETSY store, or selling at a local event. But he decided to use Kickstarter to put his product directly in front of potential customers to gauge interest in the Game Frame, and to gain pre-orders to fund his first production run.

The enthusiasm was overwhelming. Within 4.5 hours the Game Frame had met it’s initial goal of $15,000. Within a week, he had over $50,000 in backing. As at press time, Jeremy has already sold 448 Game Frames = $107,123 and counting!

Now comes the fun part: Jeremy will spend the coming months fulfilling the orders for his Kickstarter backers, wiring the PCBs, soldering LEDs, & assembling laser cut frames using his Personal Factory at Ponoko. The first orders are scheduled to ship in June.

Jeremy’s story is an inspiring example of how you can take a cool idea, make it real at low cost with Ponoko, and discover a whole market you never knew you had.

We’ll be following this and letting you know more about how to use Ponoko and Kickstarter as the story unfolds.

If you’re interested in starting your own product line too, you can signup for free here to make and sell your own products.

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