Designing the gears to fit inside a laser cut Automata
The mechanical marvels that are the specialty of Rob Ives don’t just come together overnight. It takes a lot of careful planning and prototyping to get those gears working just right.
In this recent blog post, he reveals the mechanism that will be at the heart of an upcoming Automata. This arrangement of gears is called a Geneva Drive, and it was originally used as a safeguard to prevent clock springs from being over-wound.
“…a particularly interesting mechanism. There is a little window in the background of the model. Through the window you can see a portrait of a woman. As the mechanism runs I need the picture in the window to change to another portrait, then another, then another… and so on. I need the picture to be stay still for a set amount of time then flip quickly to the next picture as the mechanism runs.”
Rob designed the parts in Illustrator before laser cutting his prototypes. It will be exciting to see the final outcome, where these gears will work their mechanical magic.
You can learn more about the Geneva Drive in an earlier blog post from Rob, which features an animation of the gears in action. We often see Ponoko users creating laser cut gears from acrylic, card and wood. Perhaps this adaptation of the Geneva Drive will get your mind turning as well!
via Rob Ives: Notes
Inspiring stories of independent designers & sellers creating products with Ponoko.
2014 was an amazing year for us and our amazingly creative customers. Ponoko customers are not only making super cool original products, they’re solving design problems for underserved markets and building successful small businesses.
#10: Laser Cut Robots Remind You to Water Your Plants
Some of us are blessed with a natural talent for caring for our houseplants. Others, however, struggle with merely keeping our houseplants alive.
Read Dickson Chow’s story about saving the lives of innocent plants everywhere with the help of his laser cut robot friends.
#9: Photochemical Machining Goes Bohemian
Rachel Dropp is the one-woman operation behind Raw Elements Jewelry, a brand that combines modern Photochemical Machining (PCM) with traditional jewelry-making techniques. The results are unique hand-crafted pieces that feature a raw, unique style.
Read Rachel’s story on how she launched a line of bohemian inspired jewelry designs, and the unique process behind these pieces.
#8 The Kyub MIDI keyboard
The Kyub is a compact, fully programmable MIDI interface that provides a new way to compose, record and perform music. Although the Kyub Music group fell short of their original Kickstarter goal – they were able to garner enough support for the product to put the Kyub into production. Read the Kyub’s story and get a first hand look a the Kyub in action.
ARE YOU A MAKER / DESIGNER WHO WANTS TO JOIN A DIGITAL MAKING PIONEER?
We have a part time Production Manager role (developing into a full time role if you wish) for a maker / designer to make custom products for our online community of 130,000 makers / designers. And to help us change the world.
* You believe what we believe … That consumers of the future will download and make products at home (kinda like a ‘digital Ikea’).
* You value what we value.
* You have a deep desire to help other makers / designers make their own custom products. This will make it easy for you to smile, persevere and shine through the ups and downs our customers experience on their personal creative journeys, and the ups and downs we experience on ours.
* You are:
ABOUT THE ROLE
You’ll be our part time Production Manager (minimum 15 hours per week). You’ll be the trusted maker of our customer’s product designs. You’ll enable us to deliver on time as our customer demand is growing.
Your typical day includes:
* Achieving 2 key goals – product making quality and speed of making service. Both measured and reported weekly.
* Managing our online customer order queue, and making customer’s orders using our laser cutters.
* Managing our materials stock so we do not run out. And communicating with our materials suppliers as needed.
* Carefully packaging and shipping customer orders. And communicating with our shipping suppliers as needed.
* Lending your expertise to assist our customers improve their product designs, as needed.
* Liaising with our customer team to ensure on-time delivery of quality custom products.
* Delighting our customers with the unexpected, and putting a smile on their faces, particularly when all seemed lost.
* Attending 2 weekly meetings – one full team discussion about company and individual results, plus one customer/production team discussion about customer experience.
* Identifying problems with and improving our workflows to delight customers.
* As a bonus, creating or editing online help content for our customers to help themselves.
* Freedom and independence to run your own shift.
* Feeling that your work day makes a difference in other people’s lives.
* Market hourly rate.
* Employee rates on laser cutting your own stuff.
Dreamed up in 2006, Ponoko believes consumers of the future will download and make products at home (kinda like a ‘digital Ikea’).
We foresaw the third industrial revolution (distributed digital mass production) growing out of the first and second industrial revolutions (centralized analog mass production).
Hence in 2007 Ponoko launched at the first TechCrunch conference and became the world’s first to enable designers to make & sell downloadable product designs online (open, free, paid).
Since then a community of 130,000 makers, designers, hackers, brands and businesses have made over 400,000 custom products online. And they’ve sold them via our website, their own websites, ETSY, Kickstarter, design events, and to main street retailers.
With free digital prototyping to get a design just right, no minimum order size to get started, and on-demand production available within 1 day to eliminate investment in stock, we’ve make it 10x faster than ever before for designers to prototype, make and sell their custom product ideas online.
Recognised as a pioneering leader of the online digital making industry, we have been featured in places like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN Money, Inc. Magazine (cover), Forbes, Wired, Core77, TechCrunch, Makezine, MIT Technology Review, BBC News and The Economist.
Your appointment will enable us to continue to support our existing customers, and to hatch a new 3D printing initiative to transform our industry again.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to introduce yourself, send your resume, and your answers to these 3 questions:
1) Why do you want this role?
2) What gaps might exist between what we need and what you have?
3) Why are you the best person for this role?
We’re looking forward to meeting you
Clipping masks: please don’t use them!
When creating artwork for laser cutting in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, people love the very handy technique of using clipping masks to achieve the desired visual outcome. But that’s just it – as the name of the command so succinctly implies, when you use clipping masks there is more to the image than meets the eye… and those hidden lines do not play nicely with the laser cutter.
In this tutorial from the Ponoko Support Forums, Catherine talks through how to clear your file from any hidden elements that were left behind when the clipping masks were created.
For either program, there are two main processes to get your head around and each contains a small number of steps. In Illustrator, you need to Release the clipping mask and then clean up any stray elements. For Inkscape, the process is similar with a command to release the Mask and Clip.
What comes next depends on the complexity of your design, but you can be sure any time spent getting the artwork right beforehand is always better than bottlenecks at the laser cutter due to incompatible files.
See the step-by-step guide on the Ponoko Support Forums:
The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #208
Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.
Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.
After the jump, rolling pins, gas masks, coasters, lamps, and vases… (more…)
Arduino-driven clock that writes the time, erases and repeats
Self-declared “Geek Mom” Debra posts some pretty amazing DIY projects on her blog, and this version she made of the PlotClock is well worth a closer look.
As you can see in the video above, the PlotClock is a timekeeping device that diligently wipes away the previous figures before scrawling the current time with an erasable pen.
“There is something very human and endearing about the motion of the arms as they perform their task of drawing and erasing over and over and over again.”
Debra followed instructions that she found on Thingiverse and incorporated extra modifications suggested by other Thingiverse members. Even still, resolving the design was an iterative process that included using SketchUp to visualise how the mechanism works before sending files to Ponoko for laser cutting.
“The upload and ordering process was very easy. The hardest part was waiting for the package to arrive.”
And arrive it did, in a timely manner. Read on to discover how she added in a variation of the 3D printed cap for the dry-erase pen, and used the flexibility of Arduino programming to customize the code to the specific requirements of this project.
Making those detailed designs and laser etched text really pop
Laser etched details do often stand out pretty well in their own right, but sometimes it is a good idea to give them a helping hand.
Today we are revisiting an informative post in the Ponoko Support Forums that runs through using white wood filler to bring out the details on wood and plastic laser engraving.
The tutorial focuses on an example laser cut and etched from bamboo. Follow the link and you’ll be taken through the step-by-step process, including important tips such as remembering to clean off the smoke residue from the laser and how to avoid over-sanding in the finishing touches.
This is one way to do it – but we’ve seen people have great results with other techniques as well. Paints are ever-popular; model paints, acrylic paints… in fact paints of all kinds! Others use sharpie markers, crayons, and even glue mixed in with glitter particles.
Read the full tutorial to see if wood filler is the solution for your next laser etched project.
Ponoko Support Forums: White wood filler
Closing out the year with a laser cut Useless Machine
If you’re wondering how to make the most of that ever-so-tempting Ponoko Boxing Day discount, here is a completely useless project idea.
How about building your very own laser cut Useless Machine? Thingiverse user Aaron posted this decorative version, along with instructions on how to make your own diabolical contraption. He has even included handy tips on customisation to suit different material thicknesses.
For those who don’t know, a Useless Machine consists of a simple box with a single switch on the top. Upon activating the switch, a hatch opens up and out pops a lever that turns the switch off again.
Originally invented by Artificial Intelligence pioneer Martn Minsky, the Useless Machine is kind of reminiscent of a 19th century novelty mechanical curio. If you do a bit of research you’ll find dozens of examples of how people have had fun with this idea by creating their own variations, and here is a nice video of Martin talking about what he terms the ‘most useless machine ever made’.
As a laser cutting project for both new and experienced makers, this could in fact prove to be quite useful after all.
Thanks to Aaron on Thingiverse.