Geeky Alphabet Blocks

Dedicated dad creates laser etched block set for his newborn son

Ensuring that his son’s education starts off on the right path, Jonathan Guberman tinkered away for almost a year to create this fantastic set of wooden alphabet blocks.

Decorated with the things he and his wife are looking forward to sharing with their son, the collection contains 134 laser etched images and icons from some of their favourite movies, TV shows, books, video games and popular culture.

Across the 26 English letter and ten digit blocks, the featured decorations were selected to maintain an even gender balance. Having originally started with each letter showing one movie, character, game etc; it soon became clear that this would be too limiting and the selection process was broadened. Apparently cats were included at his wife’s insistence.

The hardest part was having to cut certain images because there wasn’t enough space; I guess it’s incentive to have another kid so I have an excuse to make another set.

There is a neat little breakdown of the development process and a few other insights over on Jonathan’s blog. You can also see the full list of iconic items, and it’s well worth heading to the flickr set that showcases each block in all its detail.

Regular readers may remember the rather clever Automatypewriter, another fun project from Jonathan.

Alphabet Blocks via Laughing Squid

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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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Laser cut Marble Machines

Demonstrating the impact of changes in scale for laser cutting

Those two guys who just can’t help adding their own magic touch to laser cutting have been at it again. Martin Raynsford and his enthusiastic colleague Dominic Morrow kicked off the New Year by revisiting an old favourite project: the laser cut Marble Machine.

This time around, they gave the scale a twist – first sizing things up, and then scaling right down to something definitively cute and tiny.

As you can see in the following videos, the Marble Machines are a neat example of how easy it can be to resize an object for laser cutting.

“I’ve been telling people that one of the joys of CAM is that if you want a different size you just scale everything to 200% and recut it, so I did just that… and it works perfectly”

Just be sure to double-check before cutting! Martin and Dominic were careful to take into account all parameters including material thickness and the size of the marbles. For the Massive Marble Machine, two layers of 3mm MDF were laminated to create the required 6mm material thickness. It uses a 20mm ball bearing from another past project.

Going in the other direction, the Mini Marble Machine is so small that you need an implement to turn the teeny little winder that activates the mechanism.

Watch those marbles go round and round in a few short videos after the break. (more…)

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Laser cut vibrating mirror

Fuzzy reflections for the New Year

As another calendar year clicks over, you may find yourself reflecting on the past 12 months and pondering what the New Year will bring.

Staring into the mirror is one way to indulge in some serious contemplation… and with this interesting project from Instructables user Wolfgang Kahler, gazing at your reflection can have some surprising results.

The mirror has an array of laser-cut discs at its centre, right where the viewer’s face is likely to be positioned. Each disc is connected to a tiny motor that vibrates under the control of an Arduino Uno, with visually compelling patterns achieved in what could be seen as a simple animation.

As you can see from the video after the break, this results in a dynamic interactive experience that is considerably more high-tech than the traditional fun house novelty mirror.   (more…)

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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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Showing personality with a hint of leather

Laser cut leather accessories to keep you looking sharp

If you’re out there struttin’ your stuff in the world of high fashion, there is a chance that you have seen some pretty fancy laser cut clothing and accessories on the catwalks.

Providing plenty of inspiration to draw on, designers and makers continue to show us that it’s easier than ever to create interesting looking laser cut leather accessories. Artists who work with leather comment on the versatility of this material, with variations in the supple qualities further enhanced by the colour tones brought out in the tanning process.

Pictured above are just a few examples of what can be achieved once you know your way around laser cutting in leather.

The first four laser cut leather items are from Polymath Design Lab, with images thanks to Shannon Henry on Flickr. Below that are two of Colin Francis’ leather cuffs from Cuffmodern in the Ponoko Showroom.

Have you ever wanted to give leather a try? Explore your creativity with leather in the Ponoko Personal Factory.

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Elegant laser cut clocks

Taking inspiration from ornate European public timepieces

There is a lot to see at the Renegade Craft Chicago Winter Market in 2013. For those lucky enough to be in town on the 7th and 8th of December, one of the designers to look out for is Chicago native Sarah Mimo.

Over the past few years, Sarah has been building on a body of work that is inspired by an earlier visit to London and Prague. While on these travels, she found the beauty of Europe’s public clocks particularly memorable and has incorporated this influence into her artwork.

The result is an exceptional collection where she brings her own flavour to the idea of an ornamental timepiece. Laser cut and then finished and assembled by hand in her Brooklyn studio, these clocks are sure to pass the test of time.

See more from Sarah and other creative artists at the Chicago Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market on December 7-8, or for those who miss out, there is plenty of laser cut eye candy on her website.

Sarah Mimo via Renegade Craft

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Laser cut flute

Sweet sounds from a musical student workshop

Using technical expertise to explore – and indeed change – the way that people interact with and experience music is Yale student Lamtharn Hantrakul’s passion. Deep in the midst of a double major in Applied Physics and Music Composition, this latest project is playing a sweet tune.

In a process that goes from raw materials to fully resolved instrument in just 2 hours, the making of a laser cut flute forms the basis of a student workshop that gives new meaning to the concept of being hands-on with your music.

Referred to as a ‘fluterecorder’, the design is modelled on a traditional Thai flute called the Khlui.

The decision to use a laser cutter was made because it is a workflow that is easily accessible to students, as opposed to power tools that require a greater learning curve and level of supervision. An added bonus is that the laser cutter can be used to create custom etchings, enabling each student to individualise their design.

Click through to learn more and see a brief clip of the flute being played, with considerable prowess.   (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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The Kelpies: Giant laser cut horse sculptures

Towering over the Scottish landscape

Here is a treat for lovers of laser cutting on a grand scale. Celebrating the horse-powered heritage of Scotland, Andy Scott’s The Kelpies is a monument to both the past and the future.

Representing two dynamic Clydesdale horse heads rearing up from the landscape, this colossal laser cut sculpture is nearing completion after 7 years of development. It has taken some serious engineering to pull the project together, and the results will be awe-inspiring for visitors to the site when it opens in 2014.

Continue reading for more info and images of the construction process, engineering and design development.   (more…)

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