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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Laser cut mechanical Moon Phase Clock

Tracking the lunar orbit with laser cut precision

For those who need to know the phases of the moon, there are options way more satisfying than turning to your favourite Internet search engine.

This laser cut marvel was produced by Lukas Christensen as a gift for his brother, a biodynamic farmer who relies on Moon phases to plant and harvest crops.

When investigating exactly what to make, Lukas decided that merely tracking phases of the Moon would be far too easy. To add an extra challenge, he incorporated the function of showing rise and set times of the Moon. And so the Moon Machine began to take form.

Clearly no stranger to working with numbers, Lukas has included a thorough walkthrough of his process on Instructables.

Although an actual video would have been great to see, here is the next best thing – an animation of the mechanism where you can see the hand crank turning away. In real-world use, one turn of the crank is made each day.

Some of the wooden gears broke under the considerable pressure of the assembled machine at the point where forces are translated to the central planetary gear. To get around this, substitute parts were cut from aluminium.

Reflecting on the completed Moon Phase machine, Lukas has identified a number of ways to make it even more accurate should he come to attempt another version.

Learn more about Moon Machine on Instructables.

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Laser cut wooden chess set packs flat

Chess essentials ready to go

Perfect for the active chess player who likes to get out and about, Got Chess? presents a stylish contemporary solution. This laser cut wooden chess board concept by product designer Peter Baeten folds flat into a neat leather pouch that also acts as a playing surface during the game.

“Inspired by the classic leather notebooks, ‘Got Chess?’ is a fully functional chess set, but stripped to its essentials.”

The line between 2D and 3D is blurred as the silhouettes of the pieces take centre stage. Due to the way that the pieces slot in to the board, only the active players have a full view of the game at hand.

Laser cut and then hand finished, Got Chess? consists of four tablets – one each to house the black and white pieces, and two to make up the board.

So if you see a guy wandering around with a stylish folded leather pouch, don’t automatically assume it’s a hipster iPad case. This could be your big opportunity to challenge a Grand Master.

Peter Baeten via Laughing Squid

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A camera that is more than it seems

Q: When is a camera Not-A-Camera? A: When it’s laser cut!

As an ornament, this laser cut and laser etched 2D wooden camera has its own charm. Just be sure to say cheese when you see someone wearing one, because there is more here than meets the eye.

Secreted inside the half-inch thick device are the tiny innards of a basic digital camera.

Olivia made the Not-A-Camera for her 101 year old grandmother, who has been a shutterbug ever since discovering a knack for photography back in her 90s.

Click through for a closer look as well as a shot of Grandma all set up for some snapping action. (more…)

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Soul of Barcelona in a laser cut TV

Las TV’s laser cut souvenir captures the feel of a city

How do you capture the soul of a city? When it comes to the dynamic metropolis of Barcelona, there are so many vibrant cultural elements to choose from.

The Las TV’s project came up with this cute little keepsake, which these Spaniards feel gives a snippet of daily life in their home town. Made from laser cut wood at Fab Lab Barcelona, the miniature retro-TV set has a nostalgic photo of the city on the screen, and at the push of a button it plays sounds recorded on the city streets.

So it is now possible to hold the soul of Barcelona in your hand, and rekindle fond memories of this unique urban landscape.

“Las TV’s seek to evoke an experience, share and exchange spaces, capture light, sound and time.”

Click through to see a few pics of the laser cut wooden TV sets being produced at Fab Lab.   (more…)

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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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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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