Constructable: Interactive Laser Cutting

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Do you miss the old days of making things by hand, without the aid of a computer? Do you remember actually drafting drawings by hand? Well, the folks over at the Human-Computer Interaction group from the Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a rather novel idea, combining manual input via laser pointers, to cut designs with a laser cutter. Sound familiar? A few days ago we shared another cool project on Laser Origami from the same people.

So what exactly is it? It’s an interactive drafting table which can produce very precise physical outputs from a rather imprecise input method. By using specific laser pointers, the user can instruct the laser cutter to cut, trace, or etch designs into the workpiece. A camera picks up the laser pointer and then the software cleans it up, by straightening lines, connecting the dots, etc. While only so much can be determined by the included video, it’s pretty impressive to see what the software comes up with while cutting the design… We can’t really imagine the programming behind it!

Between this and PACCAM: Interactive 2D Part Packing, it looks like laser cutting is going to get a whole lot more user friendly! Stick around after the break to see it in action, the results are quite impressive!

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Laser Origami!

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One of our tipsters just sent us a link to some fascinating videos on a new style of rapid prototyping — Laser Origami!

The concept is fairly simple, but beautifully executed in the included videos. A regular laser cutter is used to cut outlines of objects in clear lexan, then, by unfocusing the laser it slowly melts the bend lines, causing the lexan to fold and then solidify into a solid joint. It becomes even more interesting when they add in a servo motor to rotate the workpiece, allowing for bends of angles other than 90 degrees!

Depending on the part you are designing, this method of rapid prototyping far exceeds the speeds of a traditional 3D printer. The part shown in the included image could be printed in about 4 hours, or using the laser, cut and folded in 4 minutes flat!

Stick around after the break to see this awesome demonstration of the technology!

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