How to make things with a Glowforge laser cutter


Glowforge is a 3D laser printer that uses a beam of light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and shape designs from a variety of materials. In this video, Glowforge founder and CEO Dan Shapiro shows us how to make an acrylic Jackhammer Jill (Boing Boing’s mascot) in a matter of minutes. Check out to find out what else you can make with a Glowforge and get a special $100 discount on top of the 50% off pre-order price. The offer expires this Friday Oct. 23 at 6pm PT, so order yours today! (‪sponsored post‬) Read the rest

The new Glowforge laser cutter is amazing


[Sponsored Post]

Laser cutters are machines that cut and engrave flat material – such as plywood, acrylic, chocolate, leather, cardboard, seashells, glass, even sheets of dried seaweed. Today, Glowforge introduced a low-price laser cutter that blows away the competition at a much lower price.

Glowforge is a game changer in many ways, and I haven't been this excited by a technology in a long time. The things you can make with one (see images below) are orders of magnitude better looking than things you can make with a 3D printer of the same price, and the Glowforge is much easier to learn how to use than a 3D printer.

Dan Shapiro, the founder of Glowforge (he's the creator of the Robot Turtles game), gave me a Skype video demo of the machine in action earlier this week. He showed me how to make a votive candle holder out of two different materials. He placed one sheet of thin walnut and another sheet of frosted acrylic on the Glowforge's cutting bed (which has a 12-inch x 20-inch working area). He opened his iPad, which had a live image of the cutting bed displayed on it (the Glowforge has a camera and is conected to Wi-Fi). Dan then dragged the cutting patterns for the pieces of the candle holder onto the video image of the walnut and acrylic pieces. This neat software solution for aligning material was developed by Dean Putney, who was a contractor for many years at Boing Boing, and now works for Dan in Seattle. Read the rest

Back a community makerspace, get a Dinosaur Comics laser-dino

Andy sez, "What could be better than dinosaurs? Dinosaurs made with lasers, of course! STEAMLabs community makerspace has been working with our friend Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics to bring you just that! There are 2 new rewards options for our Kickstarter to equip our makerspace." Read the rest

Toy, snap-fit hydraulics

Small Machines are snap-fit, laser-cut simple hydraulic machines that use standard syringes and plastic tubing filled with tap-water for motion-control. Read the rest

Hacking a laser-cutter to play real-world Space Invaders

Martin sez, "I just completed my silliest projects to date: while running the risk of turning my laser cutter into a giant fire ball I actually succeeded in turning it into a real world version of the Space Invaders game." Read the rest

Marvellous rube goldberg mechanical lightswitch covers

These laser-cut rube goldberg lightswitch plates from Green Tea Jewelry turn your lights into hand-cranked, mechanical delights to rival the very best in novelty switchplates of yore. Read the rest

Kickstarting The Origami, a new kind of portable laser-cutter

Created by a team from Pittsburgh's Techshop makerspace, the Origami uses a novel, fold-out arm that lets you laser-etch and -cut much larger designs than you could get into a normal, enclosed cutter. Read the rest

DIY rolling-ball clock

Christopher Blasius sells plans (€40) to make a Serpina "rolling ball clock" whose timekeeping is accomplished by rolling a ball around a laser-cut wooden frame, causing the frame to see-saw and sending the ball in the opposite direction. Read the rest

HOWTO make a laser-cut Cupid automata

Rob Ives created this great laser-cut cupid automata and has supplied files and instructions for recreating it with your own laser-cutter (or that of your local makerspace). Read the rest

Scratch-building a keyboard

When Jesse Vincent's boss stole his beloved keyboard, it set him on a long journey to make his perfect and ideal keyboard from scratch (ish -- he bought the keycaps premade). This slide deck documents nine generations of scratchbuilt keyboard prototypes. Vincent is now planning a Kickstarter based on his experiences, making some kind of custom keyboards for the world.

Building a keyboard from scratch (via O'Reilly Radar) Read the rest

Digi-Comp II: teaching computing with pachinko balls

I posted in 2011 about the Digi-Comp I, a 1963 mechanical digital computer made of polystyrene and used to teach the fundamentals of boolean logic, binary, and computer programming. I'd just discovered that Evil Mad Scientist Labs sells a wooden version of its successor, the Digi-Comp II, which uses a pachinko-style marble-run to do the same thing (the Evil version is CNC-milled and laser-cut). They call it a "Rolling-Ball Binary Digital Mechanical Computer." It is both beautiful and very clever indeed.

Overall, it is slightly smaller than the original (mid 1960′s) Digi-Comp II, which used half-inch diameter glass marbles. Rather than marbles, we’ve opted for pachinko balls, which are shiny steel balls 11 mm (about 7/16") in diameter. Using the smaller size has allowed us to reduce some of the feature sizes, and reduce the overall size of the machine from 14×28.5″ to 10×24", while retaining all of the original functions and remaining finger-friendly.

The Digi-Comp II: First Edition is CNC carved from rock-solid half-inch hardwood plywood, laser-engraved to provide it with labels, and hand fitted with over 60 laser-cut parts. It comes assembled, tested, and ready to use.

It sells for $279.

Digi-Comp II: First Edition Read the rest

HOWTO: Laser-cut and 3D printed record albums

Amanda Ghassaei used a laser cutter to engrave audio into wood, acrylic, and paper discs. Sure, the sound quality is, er, terrible, but… art! Previously, Ghassei 3D printed records from MP3 files. She's posted HOWTOs for both on Instructables! Laser Cut Record and 3D Printed Record Read the rest

Clever assemble-yourself toys and models made with laser-cutters

Artifacture Studios is a maker shop based near Dallas, TX (I met the founders at a recent speaking gig at U Texas at Arlington) that does pretty amazing stuff with laser-cutters. They are probably best known for their laser-cut Eiffel Tower models, ornate models of the iconic building cut from stiff card that use cunning slot/tab fasteners that create a robust structure without glue or tape. They've also recently launched a 30-piece acrylic laser-cut puzzle called the "Frabjous" that uses interlocking tesselations of a polygon to form a great rhombic triacontahedron, "a self-intersecting polyhedron with thirty rhombic faces."

The Eiffel Tower model is ingeniously simple to assemble, the Frabjous is challenging and elegant.

Starting with a scan of the original plans by Gustav Eiffel, this was designed to have four identical pieces that tab into one another creating a 3D model without the use of glue, tape or fasteners. Laser cut from high quality soft-touch paper. Online instructional video provided to help with assembly...

Frabjous is a sculpture and geometric assembly puzzle made from dichroic acrylic. The swirling geometric form is composed of thirty identical pieces that catch and reflect the light in stunning fashion. Mathematically, the planes of the shape are the face planes of a "great rhombic triacontahedron," a self-intersecting polyhedron with thirty rhombic faces. But the puzzle piece is a carefully designed subset of the rhombus that doesn't intersect copies of itself. Weaving the parts through each other so each remains planar is trickier than it looks. Instructions are included.

Read the rest