Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #35

Illuminated laser etched business card

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Handing out cards is a networking ritual that is still going strong, and for good reasons. As a conversation starter and trigger for memory recall, the trusty business card plays an important role… but with all the cards that get passed around at events, how can you make sure yours stands out from the crowd?

This bright example, designed by Uk creative agency The Big A for artist Ghizlan el Glaoui, shows that there are indeed alternatives to printed cardstock. Although it may not be something she’s handing out to every passer-by, it would certainly have an impact for the select few who do receive one.

How does it work?

A laser cutter was used to etch artwork and text into the clear acrylic surface, with the result almost invisible when viewed in natural light. This all changes when the material is lit from an edge, in a process known as total internal reflection. For Ghizlan’s illuminated business card, a small LED embedded in the corner is activated with a gentle squeeze, lighting up a sample of her artwork along with her signature and key contact info.

How can your brand’s image be illuminated with laser cutting from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

via PSFK

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How To Use Nesting Parts in Laser Cutting

A guide to laser cut line optimisation

ponoko-nesting-lines-example-laser-cut-cardboard-bin

Discussions around the laser cutters at Ponoko continue to highlight how important effective nesting of parts in laser cut files is. Today we are taking a look at a real-world example of how optimising linework can achieve faster cuts and therefore save money. Cutting time is generally the most expensive component when ordering from Ponoko. In the Ponoko forums, people have shared their methods of saving money. Let’s take a look at nesting line work in greater detail…

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This is the design we will work with – a bin. It is designed to take standard supermarket shopping bags, and was cut from 6mm thick double sided P3 corrugated cardboard. The first prototype came out to be about $40, an amount that could be considered a little steep for cardboard. However, after a few design changes we were able to reduce the cutting time by nearly half.

Design

First, consider good design as being the minimum necessary. The phrase “more is less” is a good mantra to abide by. Clever designers will figure out the best way to maximise the use of materials and processes they undergo.

Look carefully at your design, is there anything that could be considered superfluous? Is there anything that if you took it away, nobody would miss it terribly?

Curved lines vs. Straight lines

Keep in mind that lasers slow down dramatically on curves. If you ask yourself ‘are there any parts that you can take away curved sections without compromising the overall design?’ and the answer is ‘Yes’, then be sure to head back to your design program of choice before sending files to the laser cutter. Several vector drawing programs allow you to simplify linework down to straight lines. If not, try to reduce the size of radiuses as shown in the image below.

Another handy tip is that if you have lots of long straight lines try to align them parallel with either the x or y axis – this means the laser’s lens is only traveling in one direction at a time, it is slightly more efficient for the laser cutting.

Check the laser won’t see double

There can be an issue with overlapping linework. The laser doesn’t know what your intention was – it just thinks you want to cut the same line twice. It may sound obvious, but some vector drawing apps are more prone to this than others, it is often very easy to duplicate or copy and paste linework on top of each other.

You usually can’t see this, but the laser definitely can. In extreme cases this will double your cutting time (and cost) and increases the chances of burning the material. Always check your drawing files for duplicate linework.

The Fix: ungroup lines and drag the vertex points around to check you have no double ups.

Nesting cutting paths

Are there any parallel lines, or semi-parallel lines you can join to one another to make one section? This will give you greater control over the order of laser cutting parts. Remember to delete any shared lines that may double up.

You can see in the bin example below we had 12 individual strips, but then we changed the design to make them parallel on both sides and placed them together. The laser splits them after it has cut around the outside with individual parallel lines.

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Laser cutters don’t necessarily cut sequentially where you logically think they should. Sometimes they will travel to the other side of the material for the next line despite other linework in closer proximity.

Also, due to the slight unpredictability of the cutting order it can be helpful to upload several slightly differently nested files. Sometimes the placement of parts next to one another might help you save a few precious dollars or cents.

Experiment

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Different materials have different cutting speeds and characteristics. Feel free to post any tips you find on reducing cutting time on the support forums and in the comments below. There is much to learn from hearing other people’s experiences.

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Remember that it is unlikely your first design is going to be the best; prototyping is always an iterative process. Plan to make several variations of your design and do small tests so you don’t waste time, money and materials. As the results show here, a little tweaking of the design can save you a lot.

The content of this post by David McGahan originally appeared on the Ponoko Forums.

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #34

Themed ‘Build Your Own’ event kits

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Diy kits are a great way to engage people with the world that your brand inhabits. From a collection of snap-together laser cut parts, a miniature diorama can be created that entertains and stimulates playful conversation.

Connect to an event

The example here comes from Michiel Post van der Molen’s wedding, where guests were given a Build Your Own Honeymoon kit that enabled them to become immersed in the newlywed spirit. The package contained iconic laser cut silhouettes along with a felt base, where a grid of slots allowed personal interpretations of the ideal romantic getaway to be clipped into place.


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Connecting with your brand

What unique worlds can be created to connect people with your brand using laser cutting from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. By handing out simple, thoughtful construction kits to potential customers, there is an opportunity for them to become new storytellers and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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How To Make a Plaster Cast from a Laser Cut Mold

Giving traditional sculpture techniques a digital manufacturing makeover

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A plaster cast of your head is a great novelty, but the process of acquiring one has not traditionally been a pleasant experience. Thanks to a post by Koen Fraijman on Instructables, immortalising yourself with a sculpted bust just became a whole lot easier. How did he do it? By using laser cutting!

Scan and edit the 3D file

The process begins with a digitised scan of the subject – in this case, it’s Koen’s own head. A moderate understanding of the program Rhino is required for the next few steps, where a mold is built around the imported 3D scan. This is also the time to include locator holes, so that pins can be used to aid in lining everything up during assembly of the sliced model. Rhino’s Nest takes care of the slicing, and also prepares everything nicely for laser cutting.

It is important to choose materials carefully and make sure the layer height is correct before heading to the laser cutter. Koen decided on cardboard because it enabled a relatively easy cleanup process once the plaster was poured, and the cardboard flutes also give the model an interesting surface texture.

Cutting the sliced model

Once you’ve had all the elements laser cut at your local maker space or perhaps your Ponoko Personal Factory, the mold is ready to assemble. As a bonus, all of the inner segments that make up the void can also be stacked to give you an additional head sculpture!

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Pour, clean up and then stand proud…

Making plaster can get a bit messy, but there are plenty of tips on Instructables and Koen includes a few handy hints in his post. After a couple of hours, the plaster will be set and it is time to literally unbox your sculpture. Because the cardboard is brittle/soggy (when wet) and the plaster creeps into all the nooks and crannies that it can, the cleanup can be a bit laborious – but the results, as you’ll soon discover, are well worth it:

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A very distinctive permanent record of how you would look, should you be made of (in this case) corrugated cardboard! Koen’s key innovation of using laser cutting to create a mold for the plaster cast made this process quite different to the way molds are usually taken.

With the ease and accessibility of 3D printing in workshops across the globe, it is good to be reminded that some of the old stalwarts of model making and sculpture are still viable options… even if they have had a helping hand from a 3D scanner and laser cutter.

See the full process on how to make a plaster cast from a laser cut mold on Instructables.

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #33

Sweeten up your laser cutting

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Here is a great way to use laser cutting to help your brand stand out from the crowd. We already know that laser cut letters have serious impact when compared to printed alternatives… there’s something that really grabs you when a typeface stands proud in 3D.

For Agencies and Brands, the need to go one step further in order to draw in the target audience can lead to some interesting design explorations.

Mouth-watering appeal

The use of food, with all of its associations and temptations, opens up a number of unusual opportunities to enhance laser cut objects.

We’re wired to respond positively to sweet things. There’s something about desserts, particularly sweet ones, and it’s hard to get any sweeter than honey. Putting the sensorial experience of eating honey aside, actual honey is also a visual marvel with its mesmerising molten viscous motion and deep golden glow.

Here is a great example of this combination of food and laser cutting working really well together. Giving laser cut letters a unique eye-catching appeal, this experimental typeface takes inspiration from the classic wooden honey dipper. It is only once the honey is added that the letters become complete.

Laser cut typography honey

How did this come about?

When challenged to create a liquid-inspired typeface with minimal post-production, Franc Navarro and Alberto Martinez from IED Barcelona turned to honey coated laser cutting.

“We were attracted to the simplicity of structuring layers of wood, the mesmerizing viscosity and warm tonalities that honey has.”

Can you think of other playful ways to combine food with laser cutting from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

via Design Hooked

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Introspective Laser Cut Art

Organic laser cut layers come to life

Adno laser cut portrait detail

When an artist has the knack of truly capturing a portrait, the result will often have a commanding presence that engages and challenges the viewer. Andrey Adno’s portrait series In Myself uses laser cutting to add depth and personality with a distinctive visual style that is quite mesmerising.

The portraits are presented across a variety of scales, from life-sized material explorations to an enormous exhibition installation that is illuminated from within.

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Light, shadow and the intriguing qualities of translucent acrylic all play a role in supporting the layered laser cut contours to define the form. These physical works show a high level of detail and present a novel interpretation of the artistic portrait.

Adno laser cut portrait acrylic

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The changing impact of light and shadow through different material explorations encourages a range of emotional responses to the portrait series.

Fans of street artist 1010 are also in for a treat, thanks to an interesting digital exploration Adno is working on. With a mesmerising organic motion, the smooth forms swirl and blend to expose and then conceal across several layers of material.

What you see in the animation below is a part of a work-in-progress; a “test version” digitally produced using Maxon’s Cinema 4d program. Although this will not become an actual physical artwork, the connection to Adno’s earlier laser cut pieces continues through the use of layers and cutout contour lines.

 

A video posted by Andrey Adno (@adno) on

 

See more inspirational laser cut artwork from Adno on Instagram, and follow through to his personal website where you’ll find exhibitions, projects and a sample of his mind-blowing street art.

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #32

Laser Cut Glider Business Card

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Watch your brand take flight with this playful idea for a business card makeover. Canadian model aircraft supplier Norburn put a sample of their wares right into potential customers’ hands thanks to a snap-fit mini glider incorporated into their business card design.

The simple but fully functional flyer easily assembles from three components that pop out of the card. The fuselage and wings give plenty of space to lay out all the key company info, and although the assembled plane may not fit back into your wallet so well, chances are you’re not going to forget these guys any time soon.

Inspiration for your brand

The surface area provided by a business card may be small, but as this glider shows, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun there with some laser cut designs. Taking an aspect of what your company does, and turning it into a simple 3D assembly, gives people an interactive way to engage with your brand and generate a memorable connection. Adding in the functional element of (in this example) a glider that can actually fly would make for a real conversation starter at events or in the retail environment.

This design came from the clever minds over at Rethink Communications, and you can see another DIY version from tinkerer Katy Gero.

Can you think of a playful laser cut business card conversion using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

via The Inspiration Room

Laser Cut Cube Reveals Hand Painted Images

A unique image appears on each rotation of this transparent acrylic cube

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There was definitely some careful planning going on when artist Thomas Medicus put together this remarkable laser cut cube titled ‘Emergence Lab’. Upon rotation, a new hand-painted image is revealed from each orientation with a dynamic three-dimensional impact. It really is quite mesmerising… continue reading below for an HD clip of the cube being rotated through all axis.

The cube consists of 216 laser cut acrylic strips assembled into a grid structure. This enables an anamorphic painting to be positioned on each side that is only able to be seen in complete clarity from one specific viewpoint. In order to retain the integrity of the transparent cube, the images have to occupy the same physical space as their counterparts on the opposite side; adding to the complexity of the hand painted designs.

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By using this method of construction for the cube, it makes the task of applying the images much more straightforward – but also results in unwanted reflections within the structure. To get around this, Thomas came up with a clever solution: fill the cube with a silicon oil that has the same refractive index as the acrylic structure. This gives the visual impression of a solid glass block, as the individual facets and surfaces of the acrylic strips blend away to become almost invisible.

 

Can you think of other ways to use silicon oil to enhance the impact of laser cut acrylic from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below.

Emergence Lab via My Modern Met

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #31

Layers and Shadows

BERLIN laser cut layers

The play of light and shade on crisp laser cut linework has an eye-catching impact that is both dynamic and alluring. With only a little more effort than it would take to prepare files for printing in a more traditional 2d format, it is possible to use the same visual structure to create laser cut layered artwork that can literally jump out from the page.

Why does it work so well?

The example pictured above demonstrates that this approach to 3-dimensional graphic design can be applied with great effect to simple text and logos. When given only a partially complete outline of each letter, the eye naturally resolves the missing details. Further support from environmental lighting can also enhance the stratification in the design. This allows the geometric forms of the custom font to be instantly recognisable even without prior knowledge of what the typeface looks like.

How to use this technique with your brand

Some of the best laser cut designs are also the simplest. This is particularly true when working with layered material and sections that are cut or removed; the less complicated your design can be, the fewer the potential errors when it all comes together. Remember to work with the strengths of laser cutting, making use of (to name a few): crisp linework, precision alignment and the elegance of accurate repetition.

Can you think of a clever way to harness light and shade using laser cutting with the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

image source: viral3k.com

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How To Make The Most of your Laser Cutting Materials

Browser-based vector nesting tool optimises laser cut layouts

SVGNest

Fitting all of your laser cut parts so that they squish into the least possible area on your laser cutting template can be tricky. Most of us will approach this by trial-and-error, manually shifting objects around until it ‘looks about right’. While this will save a bit of laser time, with complex designs the process can be laborious and you can’t really know whether the layout you have chosen is the best possible solution.

That’s where clever software such as Jack Qiao’s SVG Nest can really come in handy.

What is SVG Nest?

Rivalling powerful (and expensive) commercial options, the freely available SVG Nest uses all the computing muscle your browser can throw at it to come up with the optimal layout for your laser cutting. By grouping all of the elements within a defined area, the geometry-driven genetic algorithm is able to find the best fit by first setting the largest shapes, and then working in the smaller objects around them. It gets really interesting when there are many many design elements, and also when the objects to be sorted are all of a similar size.

Here’s an example using laser cut lettering:

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Why is this useful for laser cutting?

As we’ve previously outlined in the Top Ten Ways To Reduce Laser Cutting Costs, how you position your designs on the Ponoko template can really make a difference to your laser cutting pricing. One of the reasons for this is that the laser head has less distance to travel between each part, and as you are paying for laser time, minimising travel is an immediate cost saving. Another consideration is the material cost itself – minimising material wastage will also save you money. As an added bonus, being thrifty with your resources can make you feel good too!

For more information about SVG Nest head to Jack’s GIT repository, where you can also see a demo of the software in action. Just be warned, it is seriously CPU intensive so those on mobile devices might want to wait until they’re sitting in front of a harder hitting machine before trying it out.

via Just Add Sharks