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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Prototyping robot legs with a laser cutter

OFFRobot design iterations resolved using laser cutting

Responding to the tempting possibilities posed by the Hack The Arduino Robot challenge, the OFFRobot is a neat little walker designed by John Rees from the UK.

He’s documented his development process and thoughts along the way, from design of the walking mechanism (including inspiration from Disney Research and the ever-impressive Strandbeest) through to various stages of laser cut and 3d printed leg assemblies.

One interesting point to note is that John’s prototyping went from laser cut cardboard in the early stages, on to laser cut plywood and then 3d printing which came into play once the design was more resolved.

With the deadline of the competition looming, he went back to laser cutting in acrylic for the final burst.

“I did more 3d printing. It gave me some great, really solid and light pieces but I left it too late to print everything, so I will revert to laser cutting once again!”

By ‘reverting’ back to laser cutting for the robot’s legs and gears, John was able to achieve reliable, accurate and tangible results really quickly. That’s one of the major advantages of laser cutting – the unrivalled speed and precision.

Here’s a look at how the OFFRobot mechanism works:

Read more at OFFRobot.

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Giant laser cut cardboard velociraptor

Dinosaur costume roams the streets

Meet Felix. As you can tell from his gentle gaze, Felix is a friendly dinosaur and he loves to head out for a leisurely stroll.

Originally conceived (and worn) by Lisa Glover while exploring Industrial Origami as a part of her university studies, this jaw-dropping laser cut cardboard costume deservedly won her first place at a Halloween costume party in 2013.

The response to her 15 foot long wearable creation was so overwhelmingly positive that Lisa decided she had no option but to share it around. So she set out to re-engineer the jurassic costume into a form that is more manageable, and which is now the focus of a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Eager, cashed-up backers can get their legs into a giant velociraptor suit of their own, but for the rest of us there are some neat smaller rewards on offer.

Watch Lisa and Felix out for a stroll, and discover more at KitRex or on Kickstarter.

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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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Foldscope laser cut microscope

Ingenious optical device folded from a single sheet of paper

With diseases such as Malaria still causing serious trouble across the globe, there is a real need for major change in the way fieldwork is carried out.

Researchers at Stanford University’s Prakash Lab have developed a laser cut microscope that costs just 50 cents to produce and boasts performance that rivals standard lab equipment.

At the heart of a process that has been dubbed ‘Use and Throw Microscopy’, the laser cut Foldscope is so cheap to make that it can be considered a disposable device. The origami inspired pattern snaps out of a single sheet of paper and easily assembles in minutes.

“It was a hard challenge thinking of making the best possible instrument, but almost for free.”

(more…)

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Laser Cut Parabolic String Lamp

Wrapping up that retro style with a laser cut wooden frame

At some stage, we’ve probably all done a little parabolic line art. Whether it was in the back cover of a school textbook, or with a series of nails and string on a piece of plywood… there is something about the way those curves and straight lines work together that draws people in. Particularly if you are a fan of 1970’s decor.

Audrey Love has given this retro geometric art form a digital twist by laser cutting a wooden frame for her Parabolic String Lamp on Instructables.

I examined closely and figured out how the illusions of curves appeared in the string art. I was curious if the same principle could be applied to a curved dimensional object.

The laser cutter was handy because it enabled her to quickly produce the numerous notched holes that the string feeds through. All in all, it only took five minutes to cut all the parts out. Here is the laser cutter in action:

Check out the Instructables post to see Audrey’s step-by-step process, where you can also download the pattern to make a Parabolic String Lamp of your own.

Instructables: Parabolic String Lamp

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Laser-upcycle your wardrobe

Using a laser cutter to give old denim a new kick

When he’s not building laser cut wooden hexapods and other robotic wonders, Queron Williams likes to discover new ways to get creative with a laser cutter.

In this recent exploration, he gives an old pair of jeans a fresh makeover – and even managed to remain true to the Robot theme!

Laser cut clothing is something we’ve seen before, but using the laser cutter to etch fabrics takes a little more fine tuning. There isn’t a lot of room for error, as Williams found out when he began with a ‘leather etch’ setting on his laser cutter. Etching patterns into denim requires a more delicate touch, and here’s what it looks like when you get the settings right:

The robot designs are from illustrator mattcantdraw, and they appear to transpose quite nicely onto the denim material.

“I’m actually very pleased with how this turned out, the effect produced looks like natural fade, but only in specific areas. I love that these jeans have gone from boring ‘off the shelf’ to something interesting and individual.”

via Qbotics

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Get to know your laser cutter better

DIY Kerf measuring tool refines your laser cutting precision

Although it isn’t critical on all laser cut projects, for anything with parts that fit or slot together, kerf is something that is worth paying attention to.

It may sound like a Jim Henson creation – but kerf is in fact a very real technical term. Kerf refers to the gap that is left by the cutting device – in our case, the laser beam in a laser cutter. It’s usually more of an issue when laser cutting in wood, but will also come into play when laser cutting acrylic and other materials.

Open source enthusiast Dave Chamberlin has come up with a nifty device that can be used to accurately measure the kerf of a laser cutter. The simple cutting pattern has been uploaded to Thingiverse, and includes instructions on how to measure your kerf etched right onto the device itself. Here is what it looks like:

Follow the source link below to download the file and try it out on your own laser cutter. You can also discover what else Dave is up to in his open source maker crusade over at Takeaway 3d Tech.

Thingiverse: Laser Kerf Measuring Tool

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Laser Cut Cupid

Flying straight to your heart on Valentine’s Day

Did you make something special for a loved one this Valentine’s Day? For those with a laser cutter handy (that includes Ponoko users, too!) here is a cute little Laser Cut Cupid from Rob Ives that is sure to win over more than a few hearts.

All of the parts for this romantic automata are available for free over at Instructables and on Rob’s blog. Assembly is quite straightforward, and made even easier thanks to the detailed instructions provided. With the laser cut parts, some thin dowel, and wire from two paperclips, your Cupid will be flapping away in no time.

Turn the handle, and watch as the laser cut wooden gears work their magic.

There are also a few small neodymium magnets to keep the wings in place. Click through to see images of the laser cut parts and assembly process.   (more…)

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Exploded hardware wall art

Creative inspiration as products are exposed in all their glory

We all know the story… the kids who spend hours pulling apart every product they can get their hands on will grow up to become tomorrow’s designers, engineers and creative geniuses. Well, the offices of Bolt in downtown Boston show that this is more than just a cliché.

Building a great hardware product is brutally hard work and our walls remind us of that everyday.

Set with a relatively small budget for decorating the office space in an inspirational way, the Bolt team made a list of their favourite hardware products of all time and purchased each item from eBay. The products were then disassembled, cleaned, and mounted on the walls in all their exploded designer glory.

This can be seen as merely an ‘art project’, with all the innards of the products exposed and neatly knolled into place. But as the exposed products become more and more a part of the every day, they have become valuable tools to educate, inspire and remind of how important exquisite design and meticulous engineering are to the success of a business.   (more…)

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