Laser Cut Acrylic Bending Jig

Quick approach to controlling acrylic forming

laser cut acrylic bending jig

Laser cut acrylic has so much going for it, which is why this material’s variants are among the most popular of all the options in the Ponoko Materials Catalog. Designs for laser cut acrylic tend to follow a familiar pattern; boxy shapes, notched and stepped joins and slotted connections. But what happens when your form doesn’t fit this mold?

Ceramicist Chris Donnelly used laser cutting to build himself a basic bending jig that would enable the secondary manipulation of acrylic for his students at the Edinburgh Academy. Consisting of two laser cut side panels that are bolted onto a horizontal platform, the device allows for precise control across 180 degrees of movement thanks to a vertical plane that can pivot and lock into position.

Exactly what the students are making with this jig is yet to be revealed, but it’s great to see how some quick thinking and a clever laser cut design can upgrade the capabilities of their school workshop.

For those inspired to make a laser cut bending jig of their own, the Chris has shared the files on Thingiverse.


How To Make a Brushless Motor for Education

Exploring electromagnetism with DIY laser cut motor

laser cut brushless motor

Teaching kids about how motors work can be a lot of fun, particularly when they get to build and experiment on the motors themselves. So when engineer Matt Venn spotted a neat little 3D printed motor, he decided to make his own variation – this time using laser cut components and an Arduino to run the show.

The learning experience

Once all the kinks were worked out, the Arduino was replaced by a few cheap electronic components. This way, students have the opportunity to build the entire setup from scratch, mounting the electronics on a breadboard as they work out exactly what each component does.

The adjustable laser cut rotor has slots to hold different numbers and configurations of magnets, and this can be further extended by cutting custom rotors to suit alternate magnet arrangements.

This is a great project that encourages a hands-on approach to exploring electromagnetism by building a simple DC brushless motor. Consideration has been made to come up with a laser cut solution that can be assembled and studied within the time constraints of a science class workshop.

Matt has provided all of the files and extra info you need to get the motor up and running on GitHub, where you will also find a brief video walkthrough that highlights how the motor and supporting circuitry work.

Matt Venn via Hackaday

Laser Cut Memory Card Holder

Hey – Stop Losing Your Memory Cards

memory card holder

There is a good chance that Barcelona-based Industrial Designer Róger Zambrano isn’t the only one out there concerned about losing his memory. While (for now, at least) his mind may be very much intact, it’s keeping track of those diminutive memory cards that prompted him to come up with this neat laser cut storage solution.

The drawer-like system contains slots for three SD cards, providing physical protection in a compact package. In fact, the design (which he has made available to download for free on Thingiverse) allows for two of the neat SD card holders to be cut from a single A4 sized sheet of 2mm cardboard. There is also plenty of space for some custom laser etching on the surface.

memory card holder 3

In a bold reminder to himself, Róger has called his card holder HSLYMC which is a truncated version of the phrase: Hey – Stop Losing Your Memory Cards.

via Róger Zambrano


How To Make a Laser Cut Dremel Chop Saw

Industrialize your mini DIY production line

dremel chop saw 1

Repetitive cutting for projects that require precision parts can be a time-consuming process. The need for consistency and accuracy in making several hundred cuts from small diameter pipes prompted sculptor HTMF Metal Pizza to seriously upgrade his DIY production line.

Why not use a pipe cutter?

The usual way to cut sections from the hobby pipe is to use a pipe cutter, however this tool leaves a small deformation around the inner diameter. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but as HTMF’s process requires smooth edges on both inner and outer surfaces, the sections from the pipe cutter are unsuitable for his needs.

Solution: the Dremel abrasive disc

An abrasive disc spinning at high speed will cut with the precision that HTMF is looking for. When controlled in smooth linear movements, the cuts will be quick and clean… so armed with this knowledge he set out to optimise the cutting process to achieve greater speed without sacrificing any accuracy.

“While I tried cutting the tubing free hand, I found I needed a third hand and there was a huge variation in size which required a great deal of re-finishing.”

Introducing the laser cut Chop Saw

The solution was to build a miniaturised ‘chop saw’ mount for his Dremel cutting tool. As well as holding the Dremel and working material securely, the chop saw houses two drawers; one to store Dremel parts and another to catch the pipe sections as they are cut. He also added a scale on the cutting table that aids in achieving consistent lengths with each cut.

dremel chop saw 2

See the full tutorial on how to build a laser cut Chop Saw mount for the Dremel multi-tool on Instructables. You’ll find all the files you need for laser cutting including an adapter for switching between the Dremel hand tool itself and the flexible shaft attachment, depending on which version you are using. The thoroughly detailed assembly instructions are also peppered with tips (and supporting pics) on how to best manage the trickier steps will see you up and cutting in no time.

…and if you’re wondering what’s up with this Instructables creator’s screen name, HTMF stands for Having Too Much Fun! 


Animated Laser Cut Fox

Playfully pouncing from frame to frame

laser cut fox animation

The inner musings of talented artist Sarah Capon have been brought to life thanks to an animated collaboration with Industrial Designer Benjamin Donnelly.

The process started off with a neat series of drawings that make up each frame of the animation, capturing the motion and physical suspense as the fox steadies itself before pouncing playfully. Sarah’s sketches were then converted and sent to a laser cutter to be etched and cut from plywood, along with a clever support bracket designed to hold the laser cut fox frames in place during filming.


Watch the full animation in the video below, along with behind-the-scenes footage that gives a good taste of the process that enabled this playful laser cut animated outcome.

Sarah Capon via YouTube

Laser Cut Open Source Apple Watch Band

Introducing a different approach to achieving affordable designer customisations


For those fans of the Apple Watch who like to put their own individual spin on the tech that they wear, the Open Band concept proposes to further accessorise this iconic designer accessory.

Existing currently as an in-progress exploration from Brooklyn-based rapid prototyping specialists Breakfast, the Open Band project has taken cues from the official range of Apple watch bands, and given them a laser cut makeover. The goal was to allow makers and designers with access to a laser cutter (or a service like Ponoko!) to design custom watch bands that are both stylish and affordable using familiar laser cutting materials.



“…we attempted to create an open source design file that would allow people to create a unique, low-cost Apple Watch band which could be laser cut from a number of unique materials, such as: wood, acrylic, acetal, etc.”

The time may be right for this project to see the light of day, but interested Apple Watch wearers will have to be patient… with no definition from Breakfast as to when, if ever, the open source design files will be released. Even still, Open Band is a thought provoking example of how laser cutting can further democratize fancy fashions in the world of high-end design.

source: Breakfast

How To Make an All-Wooden Laser Cut Padlock

Keeping your treasures safe 


Knowing that your valuables are securely locked away gives peace of mind, whether you are storing the jewellery inherited from your grandma or the secret plans to your Next Big Thing. Perhaps you just need to keep someone out of your private space, or to seal off the cupboard under the stairs from monsters that lurk in the dark.

Whatever the reason is, a lock and key can be handy indeed. So instead of heading down to your local hardware store to buy one, how about building a fully functional laser cut lock of your own?

This simple and clever design from Thingiverse user PArtzzles will prevent prying fingers from finding their way into your box of treasures. The design for the laser cut lock was worked out on Inkscape, and files are available to download so that you can make a version of your own at your favorite laser cutting service. Some makers might like to adapt the lock to further boost its security credibility to a level that will stop thieves in their tracks. Well… that’s the idea, at least!

via Thingiverse

How To Use Nesting Parts in Laser Cutting

A guide to laser cut line optimisation


Discussions around the laser cutters at Ponoko continue to highlight how important effective nesting of parts in laser cut files is. Today we are taking a look at a real-world example of how optimising linework can achieve faster cuts and therefore save money. Cutting time is generally the most expensive component when ordering from Ponoko. In the Ponoko forums, people have shared their methods of saving money. Let’s take a look at nesting line work in greater detail…


This is the design we will work with – a bin. It is designed to take standard supermarket shopping bags, and was cut from 6mm thick double sided P3 corrugated cardboard. The first prototype came out to be about $40, an amount that could be considered a little steep for cardboard. However, after a few design changes we were able to reduce the cutting time by nearly half.


First, consider good design as being the minimum necessary. The phrase “more is less” is a good mantra to abide by. Clever designers will figure out the best way to maximise the use of materials and processes they undergo.

Look carefully at your design, is there anything that could be considered superfluous? Is there anything that if you took it away, nobody would miss it terribly?

Curved lines vs. Straight lines

Keep in mind that lasers slow down dramatically on curves. If you ask yourself ‘are there any parts that you can take away curved sections without compromising the overall design?’ and the answer is ‘Yes’, then be sure to head back to your design program of choice before sending files to the laser cutter. Several vector drawing programs allow you to simplify linework down to straight lines. If not, try to reduce the size of radiuses as shown in the image below.

Another handy tip is that if you have lots of long straight lines try to align them parallel with either the x or y axis – this means the laser’s lens is only traveling in one direction at a time, it is slightly more efficient for the laser cutting.

Check the laser won’t see double

There can be an issue with overlapping linework. The laser doesn’t know what your intention was – it just thinks you want to cut the same line twice. It may sound obvious, but some vector drawing apps are more prone to this than others, it is often very easy to duplicate or copy and paste linework on top of each other.

You usually can’t see this, but the laser definitely can. In extreme cases this will double your cutting time (and cost) and increases the chances of burning the material. Always check your drawing files for duplicate linework.

The Fix: ungroup lines and drag the vertex points around to check you have no double ups.

Nesting cutting paths

Are there any parallel lines, or semi-parallel lines you can join to one another to make one section? This will give you greater control over the order of laser cutting parts. Remember to delete any shared lines that may double up.

You can see in the bin example below we had 12 individual strips, but then we changed the design to make them parallel on both sides and placed them together. The laser splits them after it has cut around the outside with individual parallel lines.


Laser cutters don’t necessarily cut sequentially where you logically think they should. Sometimes they will travel to the other side of the material for the next line despite other linework in closer proximity.

Also, due to the slight unpredictability of the cutting order it can be helpful to upload several slightly differently nested files. Sometimes the placement of parts next to one another might help you save a few precious dollars or cents.



Different materials have different cutting speeds and characteristics. Feel free to post any tips you find on reducing cutting time on the support forums and in the comments below. There is much to learn from hearing other people’s experiences.


Remember that it is unlikely your first design is going to be the best; prototyping is always an iterative process. Plan to make several variations of your design and do small tests so you don’t waste time, money and materials. As the results show here, a little tweaking of the design can save you a lot.

The content of this post by David McGahan originally appeared on the Ponoko Forums.

How To Make a Plaster Cast from a Laser Cut Mold

Giving traditional sculpture techniques a digital manufacturing makeover


A plaster cast of your head is a great novelty, but the process of acquiring one has not traditionally been a pleasant experience. Thanks to a post by Koen Fraijman on Instructables, immortalising yourself with a sculpted bust just became a whole lot easier. How did he do it? By using laser cutting!

Scan and edit the 3D file

The process begins with a digitised scan of the subject – in this case, it’s Koen’s own head. A moderate understanding of the program Rhino is required for the next few steps, where a mold is built around the imported 3D scan. This is also the time to include locator holes, so that pins can be used to aid in lining everything up during assembly of the sliced model. Rhino’s Nest takes care of the slicing, and also prepares everything nicely for laser cutting.

It is important to choose materials carefully and make sure the layer height is correct before heading to the laser cutter. Koen decided on cardboard because it enabled a relatively easy cleanup process once the plaster was poured, and the cardboard flutes also give the model an interesting surface texture.

Cutting the sliced model

Once you’ve had all the elements laser cut at your local maker space or perhaps your Ponoko Personal Factory, the mold is ready to assemble. As a bonus, all of the inner segments that make up the void can also be stacked to give you an additional head sculpture!


Pour, clean up and then stand proud…

Making plaster can get a bit messy, but there are plenty of tips on Instructables and Koen includes a few handy hints in his post. After a couple of hours, the plaster will be set and it is time to literally unbox your sculpture. Because the cardboard is brittle/soggy (when wet) and the plaster creeps into all the nooks and crannies that it can, the cleanup can be a bit laborious – but the results, as you’ll soon discover, are well worth it:


A very distinctive permanent record of how you would look, should you be made of (in this case) corrugated cardboard! Koen’s key innovation of using laser cutting to create a mold for the plaster cast made this process quite different to the way molds are usually taken.

With the ease and accessibility of 3D printing in workshops across the globe, it is good to be reminded that some of the old stalwarts of model making and sculpture are still viable options… even if they have had a helping hand from a 3D scanner and laser cutter.

See the full process on how to make a plaster cast from a laser cut mold on Instructables.


Introspective Laser Cut Art

Organic laser cut layers come to life

Adno laser cut portrait detail

When an artist has the knack of truly capturing a portrait, the result will often have a commanding presence that engages and challenges the viewer. Andrey Adno’s portrait series In Myself uses laser cutting to add depth and personality with a distinctive visual style that is quite mesmerising.

The portraits are presented across a variety of scales, from life-sized material explorations to an enormous exhibition installation that is illuminated from within.


Light, shadow and the intriguing qualities of translucent acrylic all play a role in supporting the layered laser cut contours to define the form. These physical works show a high level of detail and present a novel interpretation of the artistic portrait.

Adno laser cut portrait acrylic


The changing impact of light and shadow through different material explorations encourages a range of emotional responses to the portrait series.

Fans of street artist 1010 are also in for a treat, thanks to an interesting digital exploration Adno is working on. With a mesmerising organic motion, the smooth forms swirl and blend to expose and then conceal across several layers of material.

What you see in the animation below is a part of a work-in-progress; a “test version” digitally produced using Maxon’s Cinema 4d program. Although this will not become an actual physical artwork, the connection to Adno’s earlier laser cut pieces continues through the use of layers and cutout contour lines.


A video posted by Andrey Adno (@adno) on


See more inspirational laser cut artwork from Adno on Instagram, and follow through to his personal website where you’ll find exhibitions, projects and a sample of his mind-blowing street art.