Laser cutting in 3D

Everyone in the world suffers from some degree of functional fixedness, a proclivity to use tools only how they were meant to be use. A laser cutter, for example, is usually used to make flat, two-dimensional parts. [Seeker] broke out of this cognitive lock when he decided to create an illuminated 3D object with a laser cutter and a dozen acrylic sheets.

[Seeker]‘s project is inspired by acrylic edge-lit LED signs. In these signs, a pattern is engraved on an acrylic sheet and a LED illuminates the panel from the side. When the light from the LED hits the engraving, it’s refracted and produces a wonderful colorful pattern.

To make a 3D version of an edge lit display, [Seeker] subtracted a 3D model of a virus from a cube in Sketchup. This resulted in a hollow cavity that would refract light. After slicing up the model of the 3D cube, [Seeker] sent the files over to the laser cutter to produce a few dozen custom panels. [Seeker] glued them together, put the entire assemblage in front of a LED light, and admired the beauty of his new laser cut 3D virus.

Laser cutting technique makes plywood bendable

Here’s a laser cutting technique that makes thin plywood bendable. By cutting away elongated diamond shapes from the material, a lattice of strips connected minimally by alternating tabs is left over. The wood is then bendable, and it must be somewhat durable since the idea came from a product that uses the technique as a hinged notebook enclosure.

We don’t have much interest in it as an often used pivot point as surely it must be a problem with long-term use. But we love the look of it as a rounded corner on an enclosure like the Arduino project box seen above. The side walls are one continuous piece, with identical top and bottom sections which receive the alignment tabs. The whole thing is held together with just four bolt/washer/nut combinations.

But if you don’t have access to a laser cutter, we guess you’ll have to stick to altering pre-made enclosures for now.

Hone your skills by building control modules

If you ask us, there’s no substitute for learning by doing. But often the hardest part of acquiring new skills is coming up with the idea for a project that utilizes them. [Mike Rankin] wanted to develop a project using laser cut acrylic, and settled on building a control box for an RGB LED strip. He got some practice modeling objects in SolidWorks and seeing the process through to the final build. But it also let him explore an area of microcontroller programming in which he had little experience.

The LED strip he’s using depends on the HL1606. This is an SPI addressable chip that we see popping up in a lot of projects these days. It’s pretty simple to send red, green, and blue values through the data bus, and it allowed [Mike] to try his hand at programming menus and sub-menus. The controller takes input from a clickable rotary encoder. The settings are displayed on an OLED screen, with all the hardware nestled comfortably in his custom-cut enclosure.

Don’t miss the demo video embedded after the break.

[Read more...]

Nixie tubes live in a cool box

This set of four Nixie tubes display the number of people following bildr on Twitter. That’s neat; it uses an Arduino and some open source driver boards. But what caught out eye is the enclosure. The image above shows only half, but when assembled it’s a nice little cube that keeps the insides safe. This was laser cut using the Ponoko service and kicks off a design contest. Come up with the best idea for using 4 Nixies, their drivers, and $50 worth of Ponoko’s services and they’ll give you the materials to make it happen.

Hackaday links: August 15, 2010

Creepy or not?

Do you find these faces creepy or cute? They can display a huge range of facial gestures and the German engineers who designed them were trying to avoid the uncanny valley. That’s the point at which human features on a robot seem quite real, but are off in just the right way as to cause revulsion. [Thanks Simon]

Water in your ink cartridge

Like all great hackers [Dean] digs through his neighbors’ trash. He found an inkjet printer but wanted to test it out before buying new cartridges. The old ones were dried up but he revitalized them with an injection of filtered water. It might get you through that quick printing project without a trip to Walgreen’s.

Laser-cut LP record

[Niklas Roy] demonstrates a laser-cut LP record. He’s using acrylic as a medium, kind of like a big CD with grooves in it. He’s got several tracks that are simple loops instead of the longer spirals you may be familiar with. They definitely sound different but it’s up to you to decide if that’s by design, or a fluke.

Star Wars cinema

Ever wonder what to do with those classic toys you’ve got sitting around? Here’s a little video that envisions your life with an AT-AT as the house pet. [Thanks Gabe via Wired]

Laser cut drum kit

drums

[Segwaymonkey] picked up an arduino based drumkit circuit and needed a kit to place it on. He worked up a pretty cool design and had it laser cut out of acrylic. The cool part of the design is how he delt with the head motion of the drum. Each head has 4 “springs” that were also cut from the acrylic. The Arduino based drum circuit sits on a little pedestal in the middle, as though it were on display. We really like the design, but we have to wonder if a little noise dampening on the heads might be a good idea. He hasn’t released the plans, but says he might once he gets it perfect.

Folding hexapod bodies

SideBySide (Custom)

At Berkeley, they’re coming up with new ways to make their itty bitty hexapods. These are basically tiny flatpacked bodies cut from cardboard. The end goal is to not only make them smaller and faster to build, but to reduce the friction in the joints.  You can download the files on their site as well as download movies of them in action.  For a larger and somewhat less complicated flatpacked robot, check out the flatpacked 2 motor walker.

[thanks  Thuli]