Laser cutting 3D forms: 123D Make tutorial

Slicing up a T-Rex for laser cutting that roars

The software options available to digital makers just keeps getting better, and one of our recent favourites would have to be Autodesk’s 123D Make.

Why do we like 123D Make so much? Simply put, it just works and really is as easy as 1, 2… 3. The freely available software takes a 3D model and slices it up, then exports the data for laser cutting.

As you’ll see in the following tutorial, there are several very handy (and quite powerful) capabilities built in to 123D Make that help ensure your final result comes together just right.   (more…)

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Step-by-Step: Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 4

Watching the laser cutter in action

In this four-part series of introductory laser cutting tutorials we have shown you just how easy it can be to become a digital maker with Ponoko. Now it is time to watch the laser cutter do its thing and see those designs become real, tangible objects right before your eyes. Just hit Play on the video above.

Here’s a little refresher on what got us to this point.

• Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 1: Getting started with the Personal Factory
• Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 2: Edit design templates
• Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 3: Custom designs using Inkscape

So now that you’ve got what it takes to become a digital maker, how about losing those training wheels and start making on your own? You can:

• Upload a new design to your Personal Factory
• Check out more learning resources
• Download free design files from the showroom

…and don’t forget to share (or perhaps even show off) your projects on the Ponoko forums.

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Step-by-Step: Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 3

Using Inkscape to design your own laser cut product from scratch

Welcome to the third instalment of Ponoko’s back-to basics tutorials. This time we get creative and generate a laser cut design from scratch that can be used with your Ponoko Personal Factory.

It all begins with key information from the Inkscape Starter Kit, a tremendously useful resource that sorts out everything you need to know about the free software package, Inkscape.

The tutorial walks through how to use Inkscape to draw a design using basic shape tools, the text tool, and Path commands. In the demonstration, Josh whips up a laser cut coaster and repeats the pattern before finalising the file to be ready for laser cutting.

In a little over ten minutes, you’ll be able to:

• Create a design from scratch with Inkscape
• Create and combine basic shapes
• Check your design in outline mode
• Format your design for laser cutting

Stay tuned for Ponoko’s Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 4 where we get to see the laser work its magic.

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Sketch It Make It now available

iPad app makes it even easier to design for laser cutting

When we first heard about the iPad app Sketch It Make It, we were pretty excited. Now that developers Blank Slate Systems have released their clever drawing app to the public, our fingers are really twitching!

Sketch It Make It is able to rapidly transform even the wobbliest scribbles into neat geometric forms, and have them ready to export for digital manufacturing almost instantly. Whether you are laser cutting, using CNC milling or 3D printing there has quite possibly never been a faster way to turn ideas into tangible objects.

To discover more, download the app to your iPad and check out this series of brief tutorial videos.

The following clip also provides a neat snapshot of just how intuitive Sketch It Make It is to use.

via Sketch It Make It

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Step-by-Step: Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 2

Using free design software to customize a design file

For the second instalment of Ponoko’s back-to-basics tutorials, we walk through the process of customizing a design file using freely available design software. The recommended software is called Inkscape, an open-source vector drawing program that offers powerful features in an easy-to-learn format.

Making use of the same free design file introduced in part 1 of the Laser Cutting Tutorial series, this time we walk through the process of adding your own text to the laser cut coaster.

Follow through as the process is explained from downloading Inkscape through to preparing the custom file for uploading to your Personal Factory.

In just under six minutes, you will know how to:

• Download Inkscape (available for Mac or PC)
• Open a design file in Inkscape
• Customize the design file with your own text
• Prepare the file for laser cutting

Now we’re just about ready to generate custom designs from scratch using Inkscape, so stay tuned for our Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 3.

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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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Tinkercad finds a new home at Autodesk

The future is looking solid for rejuvenated browser-based modeler

Fans of the 3D modelling app Tinkercad are turning their frowns upside-down with the big announcement that the company is back in action, and we’re certainly getting excited… because Tinkercad has been acquired by Autodesk.

What exactly does this mean? Well, not only is it great to see Tinkercad back in action; but with the might of this industry juggernaut behind it, Tinkercad looks to be locked into a secure future as elements are slated to filter through into the innovative suite of 123D apps and more.

Tinkercad’s revolutionary Gen6 geometry kernel played a significant role in sealing the deal with Autodesk. The strength of this browser-based solid modelling utility has already proven to be a hit within the Ponoko community. One of the notable success stories of the Ponoko API, Tinkercad makes generating SVG outputs that are ready for laser cutting or 3D printing so easy, it is literally child’s play.

With Autocad at the helm, the Tinkercad free account now has unlimited designs and full import/export functionality, making it that much more appealing to new makers and educators.

“..we have supercharged the free plan. You can now create unlimited designs, all import and export functionality is enabled and ShapeScripts are turned on for free accounts.”

Click through to see the full press release from Tinkercad.   (more…)

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Blender to include more 3D print support!

The Blender 2.67 release includes a feature packed 3D printing toolbox

Blender has long supported the .STL file format used to export for 3D print and it is very welcome news that there will be additional support within the software to help modelers. As a popular, free and open source 3D modeling software package, these new features will greatly help save users’ time in finding issues with their models.

The new toolbox looks set to have features useful for printing models both with online services such as Ponoko, and also with RepRap or Makerbot kitset 3D printers. Models for 3D printing need to be perfectly watertight, so all their edges need to meet to enclose a volume. For most users this can cause issues from time to time, trying to find where a tiny hole might exist. (more…)

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Rhino 5 released

At long last, the newest version of the popular 3D modeling software hits the market.

If you are one of the many people who use Rhino, the popular NURBS-based 3D modeling software, you’ve probably noticed that the latest version, Rhino 5, has been in development for, let’s say, awhile. A very long while. Over five years, to be specific. It’s one of those things you might check on occasionally, see the “in development” label, wistfully sigh, and think about all the cool things your children will make with it.

The wait is over. Rhino 5 has been officially released with more than 2000 enhancements, apparently. From what I can see from the new features, it looks like most of those enhancements focus on making Rhino faster, smoother, and able to handle more complex models. I don’t think anyone will complain about that. There are also, of course, a variety new tools to be played with.

For those unfamiliar with Rhino, it’s notable for being extremely versatile with numerous, powerful plugins as well as support for scripting (Python). It may also be the least expensive professional-grade 3D modeling program at $995 ($195 educational). It’s still a bit steep for the hobbyist, but it could be a good investment for a maker trying to turn their passion into a profession.

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Autodesk’s free 123D modeling app expands

123D Design is now available for OSX, PC, iPad and on the Web.

Autodesk’s free 3D modeling app 123D has been relaunched as 123D Design, available for OSX, PC, iPad, and as a web app. It’s rare, if not unheard of, for a 3D modeling program to be so widely available, but what’s more remarkable is that the four versions are interoperable. This means that you can start a model with one, finish with another, and then send it to someone else who uses a third. It’s 3D modeling, for free, anywhere.

Via Shapeways

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