Freezing Stuff With Fricken’ Lasers

For almost two decades there has been research that describes a method to freeze material with nothing but a laser. The techniques have only ever been able to work on single nano-crystals in a vacuum, making it less than functional — or practical. Until now, that is.

Researchers at the University of Washington have figured out how to cool a liquid indirectly using an infrared laser. It works by subjecting a special microscopic crystal to the laser. When the laser hits this crystal, the infrared light turns to the visible spectrum, becoming a reddish green light — which happens to be more energetic than infrared. This shift in energy levels is what causes a change in temperature. The energy (in the way of heat) is sucked from the fluid surrounding the crystal, and as such, causes a drop in the temperature of the liquid. Continue reading “Freezing Stuff With Fricken’ Lasers”

Just In Time For The Holidays – Laser Cut Gift Boxes

If you’re anything like us, there’s a good chance that you plan on making (rather than buying) a few of your Christmas presents this year. But if past history is any indication of future success, we’ll most like run out of time and succumb to the quick-fix that only a big-box store can provide. But at least the packaging can be home made with this cool set of templates to get you started on your way.

The [Rabbitlaserusa] link has many more gift box templates than just the one shown here. In fact, we like this idea so much, we almost wonder if some of the examples could be turned into project enclosures if the right material was used – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We recognize that not everyone has an easy, affordable way to access a laser cutter, so just remember that these designs could be printed out and then cut by hand as well.

And, if your looking for some last minute gift ideas for kids, check out [Rabbitlaserusa] 3D animal gig saw puzzles here.


Laser Cutting Bathymetric Maps

Bathymetry is the underwater equivalent to topography. And with the right map data, you can make some amazing 3D laser cut maps that feature both land masses — and the details under the sea. [Logan] just learned how to do this, and is sharing his knowledge with us.

[Logan] holds the typical hacker belief: The best way to learn something is just to start the project and figure it out as you go. Which also makes him an excellent candidate for helping others to learn what not to do. His goal of the project was to create a visually stunning map of Vancouver that helps to emphasize the depth of the ocean just off the coast.

To do this he obtained bathymetry data from the Fisheries and Oceans of Canada, and city map data from Open Street Map, a service we’re very familiar with that has provided data for many cool hacks, like this Runner’s GPS unit. The tricky part now is combining the data in order to laser it.

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Preparing Images for Laser Etching Isn’t That Hard

Sometimes we forget how awesome laser cutters really are. After all, they’re essentially giant plotters that shoot infrared lasers to cut and engrave almost anything. Most of the time, we’ll use the cutting feature in order to make rapid prototypes for different projects. We might engrave a logo or text on there too — but with a bit of image pre-processing, you can actually etch grey scale images that look really good.

[miststlkr] has been experimenting with different processes to get the best engraving, and he’s decided to share his findings. He’s created a guide on Instructables, and it’s a pretty quick read. You’re going to need some image editing software, for which [miststlkr] recommends Gimp — as do we.

From there it’s just a matter of a few steps to simplify the image. Start by converting the image to indexed colors — this limits the number of colors the image can have, he recommends limiting to about 4 colors for now. From there, convert to grey scale and import into your favorite laser software. Now it’s time to start testing.

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Full-Color Edge-Lit Laser Cut Acrylic

Edge-lit art has been around for a very long time, and most people have probably come across it in a gift shop somewhere. All it takes is a pane of transparent material (usually an acrylic sheet) with the artwork etched into the surface. Shine a light into the sheet from the edge, and refraction takes over to light up the artwork. However, this technique is almost always limited to a single pane, and therefore a single color. [haqnmaq] wanted to take this idea and make it full-color, and has written up a great Instructables tutorial on how to accomplish this.

If you want to make something like this yourself, the only thing you really need is a laser cutter and some basic electronics equipment. The process itself is so straightforward that it’s surprising that it isn’t more common. You start by taking a photo of your choice and use an image editor to break it up into three photos, one for red, one for green, and one for blue. Each of those photos is then etched into an acrylic pane with a laser cutter. When the panes are positioned in front of each other and edge-lit with their respective LEDs, a full-color image comes to life.

This isn’t the first edge-lit artwork project we’ve featured, but it definitely has the highest fidelity. Because [haqnmaq’s] technique uses three colors, you can use his tutorial to reproduce any photo you like. You could even take this a step further and create animated photos by adding more panes and lighting them up in the correct sequence!

Weather Word Clock Warns You Of Impending Winter

Word clocks are pretty popular “artsy” ways of telling time, but [doktorinjh] wanted to try something a little different. So instead of showing the time — it shows the weather.

He’s using an Arduino Yun to access the Weather Underground API for data and then sends the data out to a grid of 100 individually addressable RGB LEDs — NeoPixels to be precise. The LEDs are overlayed with a laser cut acrylic sheet with various words and weather icons to allow for a pretty specific depiction of current (or future) weather conditions.

The frame is made out of colonial style molding and since it’s a weather clock, he turned the grid of LEDs into a rainbow effect, because, why not?

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Are You Telling Me You Built A Lexus…Out Of Cardboard?

So, you want a new Lexus? Well then download yourself a free car, and cut it out on a laser. Add some glue, and bingo, you have yourself a fancy new ride. We’ll, not really.

Sure, this promo video is just a publicity stunt from Toyota (News flash: Your fancy Lexus is actually a Toyota) but we have to hand it to them, it worked. It’s basically 1700 individually shaped, laser cut cardboard cross-sections that are painstakingly stacked and glued together. What we like about this is the technique – that is making a 3D object from 2D.

Using 2D parts to create 3D shapes is nothing new. Most people’s first experience with this technique is with building model airplanes. Instead of cardboard, balsa wood sheets are cut into profiles and connected with stringers to form the shape of a plane. It turns out to be a very efficient way of making 3D structures when you only have 2D materials to work with. And with 3D software now in the hands of the masses, it’s never been a better time to try your hand at building in 3D. For a great example, see this carbon-fiber guitar made using Autodesks free 123D Make software. And don’t limit yourself to parallel layers, you can generate all sorts of shapes including furniture with the free and open source Sketch-Chair software. Which will come in handy, because you’ll most likely need a place to sit while you’re waiting for your new cardboard car to finish printing.

[via CNN]

Continue reading “Are You Telling Me You Built A Lexus…Out Of Cardboard?”