Awesome Laser Cut Robots That Fit in Your Pocket

Ponoko-made pocket sized robots by Junichi Tsuneoka.

Junichi Tsuneoka is the illustrator and designer behind CHIBIPOCKET – collectable laser cut robot toys that combine traditional woodworking techniques with digital laser fabrication.

Junichi has been a graphic designer since 2002, creating vibrant character-driven illustrations for his company Stubborn Sideburn. In 2012, he was inspired to jump into making three dimensional art when one of his clients hired him to design their vinyl toys:

“When I first got the sample I really liked the idea of my design becoming a 3D form. I had been doing only flat print projects till then so it was very refreshing for me. I wanted to do more 3D projects to expand my design possibilities.”

Junichi experimented with several production methods ranging from soft vinyl, plastic mold and 3D printing before landing on laser wood cutting. “It’s very close to how I usually design graphics and print digitally” he explains, “yet there is a bit of crafting quality.”

His first robot figurine was meant to be more of a personal project rather than a product line, but after showing it around it became clear there was a lot of interest in the idea. “I got a lot of good feedback plus I really enjoyed making it,” he says, “so I decided to expand the project.”

Junichi used his Personal Factory to instantly price lots of design iterations while expanding his new product line:

“It’s very handy that you can see the price right away when you upload the file” he said, “it gives me a chance to modify the file so I can control the price really easily.”

By digitally prototyping with in this way, Junichi was able to control costs early so he could stay competitive at the retail level later on.

CHIBIPOCKET was inspired by the types of toys Junichi grew up carrying around in his pocket. ‘Chibi’ is a Japanese term for ‘short person’ or ‘small child’. In popular culture, chibi has mostly referred to characters with oversized heads and small bodies – similar to babies – to emphasize cuteness and child-like spirit. “My original concept of the whole product line is about my childhood memory.” he says, “So I decided to do pocketable art/toys.”

When I asked what initially drew him to Ponoko, Junichi explained that speed is key:

“When I work with individual laser cut service, I had to spend quite a bit of time giving instructions for custom jobs and communicating back and forth.” he explains. “That would cause errors and a lot of extra time to spend. I don’t have to experience that with Ponoko.”

Each figurine combines several pieces of laser cut bamboo and fluorescent acrylic, which is then hand-sanded and finished with Sumi Ink to bring the characters to life.

What’s on the horizon for Junichi? CHIBIPOCKET was recently commissioned by totem resolve to make all the 10 Wu Tang Clan members into handmade bamboo toys:


Left to right: GZA, RZA, UGOD, Cappa Donna & Ghost Face

Junichi’s robots are available at CHIBIPOCKET.

Inspired to create your own product line? Make it with Ponoko!

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Lab Instructors needed for groundbreaking for 3D Printing Summer Camp

Inventor Studios is hosting a pioneering new summer course for middle and high school students introducing them to 3D object design, digital scanning and 3D printing.

Held at the Head-Royce School in Oakland, 6 – 12 grade students will be getting first-hand experience with the printing process, as well as making 3D scans of real-life objects.

There are two openings available :

  • 3D Printing Lab Instructors – capable 3D modelers with some teaching and/or mentoring experience
  • 3D Printing Intern Instructors- capable 3D modelers with no previous teaching experience.

If this sounds like you, and you live in the SF Bay Area, download the job description for more information including course description, job responsibilities and how to apply.

Qualified applicants should contact Bob Krause, Chief Inventor at Inventor Studios. Interviews are being held between March 26th and April 9th, so don’t wait!

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Original ideas to laser cut (not really)

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #167

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

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Above is a laser cut covered notebook from Creative Use of Technology.

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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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The wide world of laser cut wood

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #166

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Above is a fox laser cut from cherry wood from Pepper Sprouts.

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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 cut luck

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #165


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Above is a laser cut and etched birch plywood necklace from Fab Parlor.

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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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Fat (tuesday) laser cutting

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Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

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Above is a laser cut Mardi Gras bead scarf is from Josephine.

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Ponoko Customer Turns Product Into $100,299 In Just 20 Days

Ponoko + Kickstarter = Designer’s Dream

We covered this briefly before, but it’s going bananas! So we thought it was a good idea to introduce how designers are using Ponoko and Kickstarter to make and sell their products.

Jeremy Williams is a San Francisco based engineer and video game enthusiast with a passion for pixel art. His latest project, the Game Frame, is a fully-programmable grid of LEDs designed to make it easy to display animated pixel art anywhere. Jeremy’s product on Kickstarter just passed $100,000, and is trending to hit over $150,000 before closing.

The Game Frame was initially just a fun personal project – Jeremy loves 8-bit pixel art and wanted to find a way to display it on his walls – but after his prototype was demonstrated for Tested in June, the positive feedback inspired him to see if he could turn the Game Frame into a real product.

Using laser cut parts from Ponoko, Jeremy went through several iterations to refine his design. After months of prototyping, and multiple prototypes, Jeremy arrived at a Game Frame that was sleeker looking, cheaper to build, and easier to use.

With a new Game Frame in hand Jeremy set out to test the market viability of his new product.  There’s many ways to do this, like setting up a website, an ETSY store, or selling at a local event. But he decided to use Kickstarter to put his product directly in front of potential customers to gauge interest in the Game Frame, and to gain pre-orders to fund his first production run.

The enthusiasm was overwhelming. Within 4.5 hours the Game Frame had met it’s initial goal of $15,000. Within a week, he had over $50,000 in backing. As at press time, Jeremy has already sold 448 Game Frames = $107,123 and counting!

Now comes the fun part: Jeremy will spend the coming months fulfilling the orders for his Kickstarter backers, wiring the PCBs, soldering LEDs, & assembling laser cut frames using his Personal Factory at Ponoko. The first orders are scheduled to ship in June.

Jeremy’s story is an inspiring example of how you can take a cool idea, make it real at low cost with Ponoko, and discover a whole market you never knew you had.

We’ll be following this and letting you know more about how to use Ponoko and Kickstarter as the story unfolds.

If you’re interested in starting your own product line too, you can signup for free here to make and sell your own products.

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