3 Acrylics For Crisp & Clean Typography Designs

New Materials In USA Catalog: Two-Color Acrylic Sheets

Gold On Black Acrylic Wedding Invitation Styled

Serif. San serif. Kerning. Line space. Alignment. A lot goes into typography design. Fonts communicate masculinity vs. femininity, modern vs. retro, professional vs. casual, serious vs. whimsical.

Typography establishes a visual identity and expresses personality. So when your designs incorporate wordplay, you need the right laser cutting material to showcase this message: Two-Color Acrylics. And we have three new color combos to get the job done: Matte pink on white, brushed gold on black and matte orange on white.

Benefits Of Two-Color Acrylics

Because the top layer is engraved away, the bottom layer of the acrylic is revealed. This results is excellent readability because the precision of the laser cutting gives the illusion that the graphic and lettering work is printed. Thus, two-color acrylics are ideal for products that need text or graphics along with the unique shape achieved with laser cutting.

Compared to printed paper products that seem more disposable, two-color acrylic plastics offer more permanence and longevity. Cardstock is 0.3mm where these acrylic plastics are 1.5mm thick—a massive difference compared to paper—so use them as an upgrade to standard printing for a more robust product to make an impact.

Two-color acrylics are also manufactured with a UV-resistant additive. So while there will naturally be some fading with extended sun exposure, these acrylics hold up much better in UV light, making them quite durable for signage applications.

Finally, these materials are Microsurfaced Impact Modified Acrylics. This means they contain a small amount of polymer that is similar to styrene to give the acrylic extra strength and flexibility. As a result, two-color acrylics are slightly more flexible and melt a bit more during cutting than standard acrylics. This ability to be bent makes two-color acrylics particularly suitable for trophy plates.

Get Inspired: What You Can Make With Two-Color Acrylics

You may not have seen many laser cut products made from two-color acrylics. But not because these materials aren’t cool. They’ve just been primarily used in the trophy industry, so they’re less common in the maker world. Now you have an advantage to make something unique and, if you sell your designs, something different from your competitors.

To show you how amazing laser engraving contrasts on two-color acrylics, check out these examples we made for the three new colors:

Pink On White Acrylic – 1.5mm

Want to send a not-so-mushy valentine? Letting your crush know that “I like your face” is a lighthearted way to show affection without getting overly romantic.

Pink On White Acrylic Valentine Sign

Beyond Valentine’s Day, use matte pink on white acrylic to celebrate Mother’s Day or commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can also use it for signage in businesses with predominantly female clientele such as spas, nail salons or clothing boutiques.

Learn more about Pink On White Acrylic and get a Pink On White Acrylic Sample.

Brushed Gold On Black Acrylic – 1.5mm

For special occasions where you want to make a statement, create invitations using brushed gold on black acrylic.

Gold On Black Acrylic Wedding Invitation

In addition to designing invites, you can use brushed gold on black acrylic for VIP tickets, signage, jewelry, holiday decorations and front panels for electronics enclosures. Plus it is a great alternative to using metal since it is less expensive and laser cuts quicker.

Learn more about Brushed Gold On Black Acrylic and get a Brushed Gold On Black Acrylic Sample.

Orange On White Acrylic – 1.5mm

Because of its high visibility, matte orange on white acrylic is ideal for making signs, especially for food products because citrus colors are associated with healthy foods and stimulating appetites.

Orange On White Acrylic Julice Sign

You can also use this orange on white acrylic for fall harvest designs and Halloween products. It’s also applicable to spirit promos where orange is part of a school’s or university’s color palette.

Learn more about Orange On White Acrylic and get an Orange On White Acrylic Sample.

Now Available: Two-Color Acrylics

With the addition of matte pink on white, brushed gold on black, and matte orange on white acrylics, there are now nine two-color acrylics in the USA Catalog.

Pink Gold Orange Acrylic Sheets And Engraving

When designing for these materials, make sure the small details for cutting are a bit bigger than they would normally be constructed on standard acrylics. Also keep in mind that the top layer is very thin so the underlying substrate is sometimes visible along the cut line as well. This is most noticeable in corners or angles of designs, so prepare files accordingly.

Join The Conversation: What Will You Laser Cut With Two-Color Acrylics?

Whether you have a whimsical or elegant message to convey, two-color acrylics will make your words come to life. How will you use these new materials? Give us a shout in the comment box and let us know what you can’t wait to make!

 

3 Reasons Why You’ll Love Laser Cut Cork Products

New Material In NZ Catalog: Cork Sheets

When you think of cork, a wine bottle stopper is probably the first product that comes to mind. For those with sustainable building interests, you may even think of cork flooring. But have you thought of using cork as a material in your laser cutting projects?

Three Reasons To Love Cork

If you haven’t considered cork as a material for laser cutting projects, you should. And there are three reasons why you’ll love it.

  1. Laser engraving cork results in excellent contrast so your design details pop. You can see this contrast in the coffee cup holder we made with an intricate line-engraved honeycomb pattern. Line engraving for cork is recommended over area engraving due to powder (soot) build up, so you’ll want to design with that in mind.
  1. Cork is a flexible material. The majority of materials in the New Zealand catalog are rigid. So having another flexible material gives you more flexibility (pun intended!) for the products you design.
  1. Cork is generally regarded as environmentally friendly. Cork production is considered sustainable because the tree is not cut down to obtain cork; only the bark is stripped to harvest the cork while the tree continues to live and grow. (Check out this Apartment Therapy article to see why cork is so incredibly green.)

Get Inspired: How Makers Are Using Cork

Cork is a natural choice for coasters because of its absorption properties. Etsy seller EngravedSensations created custom laser cut coasters to put a twist on the traditional wedding save-the-date announcement. Now the couple and their guests have a long-lasting—and useful—memento of the special day.

Laser Cut Cork Wedding Coasters

Cork coasters can be turned into party place settings when personalized with individuals’ names, like these beauties from Etsy seller YourOneFineDay. Whether you’re designing an organic, whimsical or urban chic event, the natural finish of cork works as the perfect accompaniment to any party table.

Laser Cut Personalized Cork Coasters

 

For world travelers (or those who want to be), this laser cut cork push pin world map from Etsy seller ArbolDeCorcho lets you easily visualize where you’ve been and where you want to go in a eye-catching piece of wall art.

Laser Cut Cork World Map Wall Art

While cork has an organic beauty that’s suitable for jewelry and home décor projects, it also has applications in the industrial sector. This cork gasket from Ebay seller crunchtech is commonly used in 3D printers and other CNC machinery to reduce not only thermal transfer between parts but also vibration and resonance so there is less noise when printing.

Laser Cut Cork Gaskets

You can even spruce up a turntable with laser cut cork slipmats like these from Etsy seller PickYourPoisons that were inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man or Japanese artist Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.

Laser Cut Cork Turntable Slipmat

Graphic designer Adriana Cabeza chose laser cut cork to create stamps, which she then used with fabric paint to create one-of-a-kind totebags.

Laser Cut Cork Stamps

Now Available: Cork

Cork is lightweight, rot resistant, compressible and recoverable, expandable, fire resistant in its natural state, impermeable, soft and buoyant.

Laser Cut Cork Samples

Learn more about 3mm Cork and get a Cork Sample.

Join The Conversation: What Will You Create With Laser Cut Cork?

Cork has so much versatility. What ideas do you have for making with this new material? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment below!

 

New Year, New Projects: Ultimate List Of 50 Laser Cutting Ideas

Custom Products Made From The 10 Most Popular Materials Of 2016

Happy New Year Makers!

As the calendar flips a page, there are 365 new days for making your next laser cutting ideas. What will you make (and profit from) using the precision and consistency of a laser cutter this year?

To fire up your creativity, we’ve scoured the best Etsy shops and the web to find the sweetest custom laser cut project ideas from top designers.

And to make it super easy, we’ve paired these amazing designs with the top 10 most popular laser cutting materials from the past year so you can successfully create your own products for 2017.

Clear Acrylic - 3.0 mm

1. Clear Acrylic – 3.0 mm

Top Quality: Engraves Beautifully

Why is clear acrylic the #1 choice of makers in 2016? Because of how well it reacts to laser cutting. The surface of this thermoplastic engraves with a nice frosty finish that catches light wonderfully, and the edges melt smoothly rather than burning like wooden materials.

It’s also a staple material choice because of its versatility. You can make anything from jewelry, tableware and electronics enclosures to conference badges, signage, book covers, point of sale displays—and these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg of potential uses. And since you can heat acrylic to give it a bend, you can give your laser cutting projects a boost by taking it beyond the constraints of two dimensions.

Finally, acrylic is budget friendly, making it an economical alternative to glass. Clear acrylic is also less expensive than other acrylic colors, which only helps sweeten the appeal.

Feel free to write your own tips about this material.

And here are five products made from your most popular material:

SturlesiDesign Shop uses laser cut clear acrylic modules when creating the iLLuminite collection.Laser cut clear acrylic pendant lights from SturlesiDesign Shop

Esty shop lesfollesmarquises showcases laser engraving on clear acrylic with Japanese doll pendants.Laser cut clear acrylic Japanese doll pendant necklaces from lesfollesmarquises

For any ornithologists in the house, this Clear Hanging Bird Feeder from Esty shop Artbirdfeeder combines utility with style.Laser cut clear acrylic birdhouses from Artbirdfeeder

For a taste of tech inspiration, head over to C4Lab’s Etsy shop to see why this Raspberry Pi case is so sweet.
Laser cut clear acrylic Raspberry Pi cases from C4Lab

Who says clear acrylic can’t have an air of haute couture? Fashion designer Joanna Vanderpuije has layered laser cut geometric shapes to give this skirt texture like no fabric can.Fashion skirt with laser cut clear acrylic applique from Joanna Vanderpuije

Amber Bamboo - 2.7 mm

2. Amber Bamboo – 2.7 mm

Top Quality: Natural Honey Tone

There’s so much to love about bamboo. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly material because of its fast growth. Once formed into sheets, it is plywood, which makes it strong and durable. It can be laser cut to a fine detail and engraves beautifully. And because of its thinness, it is quick—and thus more economical—to laser cut.

Bamboo is also super versatile. Makers use it for jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers and point of sale displays.

Bamboo’s prominent grain and warm hues make it stand out from a myriad of other plywoods and timber laminates. And the warm color of the amber stain makes it ideal for projects with a nature theme. Artist, designer and Ponoko maker Bridget Kearney has created an entire line of earrings, brooches and pendants made exclusively from bamboo. See her work, which is inspired by travels through the countryside collecting flora and fauna, at Caravan Creative.

Add to the discussion by writing your own tips about this popular material.

For inspiration, here are five products made using this bamboo:

Feeling crafty? Check out these geometric wooden cabochons from Etsy seller CraftyCutsLaser.
Laser cut bamboo cabochons from CraftyCutsLaser

You’ll never drink tea alone with The Tea Buddy™ from Esty Seller TheOtherLabs.Laser cut bamboo Tea Buddy from TheOtherLabs

Etsy seller LHDUCK hand paints sections of these laser cut bamboo earrings to add a pop of color against the natural wood tones.Laser cut bamboo earrings from LHDUCK

Plant lovers will turn green from envy upon seeing Etsy shop MGreenhalghDesigns terrarium and scallop necklaces.Laser cut bamboo necklaces from MGreenhalghDesigns

Etsy Seller GeekModish makes trendy things for geeky people. Embrace #nerdpride with the math and periodic table coaster sets.Laser cut bamboo coaster sets from GeekModish

Birch Plywood - 3.2 mm

3. Birch Plywood – 3.2 mm

Top Quality: Budget Friendly

Birch plywood is made from laminations of birch veneer. It is lightweight but strong, among the strongest and most dimensionally stable plywoods. It has a great price point and is commonly used for making laser cut scale models, jewelry, model boats, model airplanes, product housings, drones, clocks, prototypes and signage.

Feel free to write your own tips about this popular material.

And checkout these five products using birch:

Etsy seller OrigamiZoo has taken the inspiration from the geometric shapes of origami to create a line of playful products, such as these laser engraved birch necklaces.Laser cut birch origami-inspired necklaces from OrigamiZoo

By using laser cut birch as the foundation, Etsy shop JSLaserCraft creates eye catching wedding save-the-date invitation tags and magnets that leave a lasting impression as a charming memento for guests.Laser cut birch wedding save-the-date invitation tags and magnets from JSLaserCraft

An unexpected addition to any wardrobe, this laser cut birch wood necktie from Etsy seller CreativeUseofTech is an attractive accessory for today’s modern man.Laser cut birch necktie from CreativeUseofTech

This trio of laser cut birch hanging lamps, also from Etsy seller CreativeUseofTech, cast the perfect glow and create an ambiance of warmth in any space.Laser cut birch hanging lamps from CreativeUseofTech

The “Hairwolf,” from Etsy shop miniFab, will tame the most epic of beards with its wide, long teeth laser cut from beautiful birch.Laser cut birch beard comb from miniFab

Birch Veneer - 5.2 mm

4. Birch Veneer – 5.2 mm

Top Quality: Thicker Yet Economical

When you need thicker wood for your laser cutting projects, this is the top choice. Like it’s thinner companion, this birch is commonly used for making product housings, drones, clocks, prototyping, furniture and signage. Because birch is a natural product, keep in mind that there may be an occasional knot on the surface. It’s part of the beauty of wood, but this characteristic can potentially impact the design.

Add to the discussion by writing your own tips about this popular material.

Plus see this material used to make these five products:

The six-pack beer case from Etsy seller nygaarddesign makes a great laser cut gift for beer connoisseurs.Laser cut birch beer case from nygaarddesign

With the laser cut Star Wars Millennium Falcon inspired wall clock from Etsy shop HamsterCheeksStore, the force will be with you.
Laser cut birch Star Wars Millennium Falcon inspired wall clock from HamsterCheeksStore

Who would want to see chess legends Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov square off in an epic match with this laser cut birch chess set designed by Matthew LivaudaisLaser cut birch chess set from Matthew Livaudais

Shout out from Etsy shop TwikiConcept to all the ’90s kids with this nostalgic laser cut birch key holder that features three coins from your favorite old school games.Laser cut birch key holder from TwikiConcept

A must-have for any harmonica player, this laser cut birch storage case box from Etsy seller BrassandBirch keeps the instruments organized by key.

 

Black Acrylic - 3.0 mm

5. Black Acrylic – 3.0 mm

Top Quality: Classic Black

Black acrylic is a classic favorite. Why? Because engraving looks soooo good on this material. The frosty white engraving contrasts beautifully with black. Jewelry is one of the top laser cut products from black acrylic, but it also looks smashing for anything that requires a sophisticated, sleek palette—tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, point of sale displays, etc. And if your design includes interlocking pieces, check out this tutorial that covers how-to make it happen.

Feel free to write your own tips about this popular material.

What could you make using this material? Here are five product examples:

Etsy seller CABfayre used black laser cut acrylic to create pendant featuring two little love birds kissing in the center of a heart filled scallop-edged oval.Laser cut black acrylic love bird necklace from CABfayre

As if cake wasn’t delicious enough on its own, Etsy shop LoveGarlands’ laser cut black acrylic cake topper really makes us want to celebrate.Laser cut black acrylic cake topper from LoveGarlands

It’s ok to leave your cape at home as long as you’re carrying the laser cut black acrylic Batman or Superman silhouette keychain from Etsy seller SolPixieDust.Laser cut black acrylic Batman and Superman keychains from SolPixieDust

Laser cut black acrylic honeycomb earring from Etsy shop liseLOVE add a modern, geometric statement to any outfit.Laser cut black acrylic honeycomb earrings from liseLOVE

Make a lasting impression with laser cut black acrylic business cards from RockDesign.Laser cut black acrylic business cards from RockDesign

Matte Black Acrylic - 3.0 mm

6. Matte Black Acrylic – 3.0 mm

Top Quality: Sophisticated Texture

Matte black acrylic is a close second to traditional black acrylic and is used when you want a silky satin finish that doesn’t reflect everything. Engraving contrasts well on matte black acrylic too, making it perfect for jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers and point of sale displays.

Add to the discussion by writing your own tips about this popular material.

And what do you think of these 5 black acrylic products:

Etsy shop SkullAndHawk uses laser cut black matte acrylic to create lapel pins/tie tacks and cufflinks.Laser cut matte black acrylic lapel pins, tie tack and cufflinks from SkullAndHawk

If you’re looking to make a statement, this geometric statement necklace made from laser cut black matte acrylic from Etsy seller PrettyUrbanCo should do the trick.Laser cut matte black acrylic statement necklace from PrettyUrbanCo

Laser cut black matte acrylic makes great signage. This one from Etsy seller HopStudio will have you shouting YAY!” Laser cut matte black acrylic YAY sign from HopStudio

A subtle way to raise a smile, the laser cut Smile necklace from Etsy’s RoseThomasShop is a contemporary and fun piece made from matte black acrylic.Laser cut matte black acrylic smile necklace from RoseThomasShop

If you want to power up your fashion game, check out these laser cut black matte acrylic Pac-Man earrings from Etsy seller muchoshop.Laser cut matte black acrylic Pac-Man earrings from muchoshop.

Amber Bamboo - 6.7 mm

7. Amber Bamboo – 6.7 mm

Top Quality: Sustainability

When you need a thicker bamboo for those bigger projects—such as this award-winning modern birdhouse—look no further than the three-ply 6.7mm bamboo. As a plywood, it’s nice and strong. Since bamboo is 100% renewable, it’s an ideal choice for the eco-friendly crowd.

The amber color is a golden brown with a fine grain. The bamboo joints are visible on the surface, breaking up the grain to create a unique appearance. And like the thinner bamboo materials, you can also make jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers and point of sale displays from this thickness as well.

Feel free to write your own tips about this popular material.

Plus here are five product examples to inspire you:

Laser cut bamboo signs make a statement. This modern and motivational art piece from Etsy shop Cabin will inspire you to have a beautiful day.Laser cut bamboo signs from Cabin

Check out this custom coat hanger from bridenew.

Etsy seller ElectricElmDesign makes wedding cake toppers from laser cut bamboo to celebrate happily ever after.Laser cut bamboo wedding cake toppers from ElectricElmDesign

Telling time has never been so much fun as with these laser cut bamboo clocks from Etsy shop HOMELOO.Laser cut bamboo clocks from HOMELOO

Designer Andy Shen uses interlocking pieces of laser cut bamboo to create Booboo drones.Laser cut bamboo drone from Andy Shen

Corrugated Cardboard - 4.0 mm

8. Corrugated Cardboard – 4.0 mm

Top Quality: Ideal For Prototyping

Cardboard is a great choice when creating prototypes of designs, as it is inexpensive and cuts quickly. Creating structures from corrugated cardboard can be a great way to test out complex designs because slotting, stacking and folding shapes all work well to create 3D forms.

But don’t think that cardboard is limited to prototyping. With the right inspiration, it is sophisticated enough to stand on its own. See these 20 designs and you’ll know why.

While cardboard has a lot of great applications, keep in mind that it isn’t great for super intricate designs. And you’ll want to keep it away from heat sources unless the cardboard is treated with an environmentally friendly fire retardant because it catches fire easily!

Add to the discussion by writing your own tips about this popular material.

Check out these five products made from card:

Inspired by the sculptural and infinite layers of the American Grand Canyon, architect Giancarlo Zema merged high design with recycled cardboard to create an innovative collection called Canyon for Origami Furniture.Laser cut cardboard furniture by Origami Furniture

Graypants’ flagship Scraplight series of laser cut cardboard pendant lights provides warm, intimate and functional lighting for any occasion or type of space.Laser cut cardboard lighting by Graypants

Aidan Chopra created the most epic Halloween costume for his son using laser cut cardboard.Laser cut cardboard costume by Aidan Chopra

Named “Not A Box,” this lamp by David Graas uses it’s own laser cut cardboard packaging as the lampshade.Laser cut cardboard lamp by David Graas

He also designed this innovative “FIY” (Finish It Yourself) children’s chair, which he describes as “one step beyond Do It Yourself” since it incorporates the cardboard packaging with the laser cut chair pieces.Laser cut cardboard children’s chair by David Graas

White Acrylic - 3.0 mm

9. White Acrylic – 3.0 mm

Top Quality: Great For Detail

With black acrylic making the list (twice!), you shouldn’t be surprised to see white acrylic make the list too because it such a classic, neutral color. Acrylic cuts precisely, so you can create beautifully intricate designs with this material. This is probably why so much jewelry is made from acrylic. But it’s also suitable for tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers and point of sale displays.

Feel free to write your own tips about this popular material.

And here’s this material used to make these five products:

Etsy seller BenditaIndomina found inspiration for this laser cut white acrylic necklace from dragonfly wings.Laser cut white acrylic dragonfly necklace from BenditaIndomina

These laser cut white (and black!) acrylic bunny rings are a part of Etsy shop NocturneDesignsCut’s “cute animals” series.Laser cut white acrylic bunny rings from NoctureDesignsCut

Etsy seller decoylab adds laser cut white acrylic atop bamboo bases to create one-of-a-kind clocks.Laser cut white acrylic and bamboo clocks from decoylab

Artist Sandra Fettingis uses laser cut white acrylic to create geometric wall hangings.Laser cut white acrylic artwork from Sandra Fettingis

White laser cut acrylic placemats from Etsy shop ByCharlie add sophistication and elegance to any table setting with diverse patterns inspired by old fashioned paper doilies to fish scales.Laser cut white acrylic placemats from ByCharlie

Natural MDF - 6.0 mm

10. MDF – 6.0 mm

Top Quality: Easy To Glue & Paint For 3D Designs

Another budget-friendly material, MDF has a warm golden tone and a smooth texture that makes it easy to glue and paint with pretty much anything. It’s great for creating complex 3D forms, so it lends itself well to making models, drones, clocks, prototypes, furniture and signage. Check out this previous post for even more laser cut project ideas.

Add to the discussion by writing your own tips about this popular material.

And here are five products made from the 10th most popular laser cutting material from 2016:

Inspired by historical industry lighting, the No.19 industrial lamp from Etsy shop HetLichtlab is designed to be assembled without screws or glue—using as minimal resources as possible.Laser cut MDF lighting from HetLichtlab

Flat pack animal heads from Etsy seller TheCraftyCowLtd keep animals safe by being made from laser cut MDF.Laser cut MDF flat pack animal heads from TheCraftyCowLtd

Etsy shop CedarStreetDesign pushes the limits of what laser cutting can do with its intricate mesmerizing patterns on this surprisingly sturdy MDF box.Laser cut MDF decorative boxes from CedarStreetDesign

The laser cut curved lines and organic shape of the Pendant Antler by Etsy seller Lampshapers create a natural, yet modern, aesthetic.Laser cut MDF lighting from Lampshapers

The beautifully stylized scale models from Etsy shop ScaledDimensions embraces Filipino ingenuity while creating a one-of-a-kind, modern sculpture that it is the perfect laser cut gift for art lovers and miniature enthusiasts.Laser cut MDF scale models from ScaledDimensions

What Have We Learned From This List Of Popular Laser Cutting Materials?

A great price makes all the difference to you, so we’ll be on the hunt for even more budget-friendly options as we continue to introduce new materials throughout 2017.

Got suggestions of what materials you’d like to see? Let us know your new material suggestions here.

Got pics of your creations? We’d love to see them. Mention @Ponoko on Twitter or give us a shout on Facebook.

And if 50 products were not enough inspiration for your next laser cutting project, check out this previous post of 100 awesome designs for even more laser cut gift ideas.

 

Measuring Success: Maker Crushes Kickstarter Goal By 2,087%

The Secret Behind The Elegant Instrument That Measures The Golden Ratio

Sir Edward Victor Appleton, 1947 Nobel Laureate in physics, said: “The golden ratio is the key to universal physics.” And for Scott Onstott, founder of SIPS Productions Inc., the golden ratio is the key to a Kickstarter campaign success story that had this maker crushing his initial goal to raise $1,618 by 2087%.

The Golden Ratio Is Everywhere (Even If You Don’t Know It)

From great works of art down to the credit card in your wallet, the golden ratio is everywhere. In mathematical terms, the ratio is 1:1.618. While these numbers may not hold much meaning to the casual observer, they have been studied by scholars for centuries.

“Some of the greatest mathematical minds of all ages, from Pythagoras and Euclid in ancient Greece, through the medieval Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa and the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, to present-day scientific figures such as Oxford physicist Roger Penrose, have spent endless hours over this simple ratio and its properties,” says Israeli astrophysicist Mario Livio. “But the fascination with the Golden Ratio is not confined just to mathematicians. Biologists, artists, musicians, historians, architects, psychologists and even mystics have pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal. In fact, it is probably fair to say that the Golden Ratio has inspired thinkers of all disciplines like no other number in the history of mathematics.”

Kickstarting The Golden Ratio

Scott has followed the work of these thinkers in his use of the golden ratio. A graduate of University of California at Berkeley with a degree in architecture, he has written and self-published seven books about the Secrets In Plain Sight, a series that documents his ongoing research, unique discoveries and sacred geometry artwork. He has also produced a Secrets in Plain Sight film series profiling patterns found in art, architecture and the cosmos—which has now been viewed by millions.

“After having written two books on the golden ratio—the first an introductory illustrated book, and the second revealing how Leonardo Da Vinci used the golden ratio as the underlying structure of his paintings—I wanted a way for people to discover the golden ratio in the natural world, in human-made artifacts surrounding them, and to purposefully encode the golden ratio in the things people make,” Scott explains. “I created a unique set of golden ratio calipers, The Proportioner, which does exactly that.”

Due to its precise geometric design, the Proportioner’s middle pointer always proportionally indicates the golden ratio with respect to the width of the outer arms (aka, the whole).

Like many makers, Scott wanted to test the demand for his product before going into full production. So he started a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Proportioner to life.

Not knowing what to expect, he started with a modest goal—$1,618—a nod to the number that started it all. With a funding period of August 29 – October 1, 2016, Scott raised $33,772 from 543 backers in that brief 33 days—totally crushing the original goal by 2087%.

Building The Perfectly Proportioned Proportioner

While the Proportioner may seem like a simple tool, making this elegant instrument was far from easy.

Scott initially considered 3D printing, CNC or water-jet cutting to make his golden ratio calipers with a unique magnetic hinge, but none of these manufacturing options were as well suited as laser cutting for what he wanted to make.

“High quality laser cutting turns out dimensionally accurate parts every time,” Scott says. “My device has interference-t magnets where the tolerance is a few hundredths of an inch. The magnets must fit perfectly every time. There is no way to replicate this by hand or by using woodworking machines. Because of these extremely precise small-scale details, laser cutting was the obvious choice.”

And while he did try other laser cutting services before finding Ponoko, he made the switch because of the easy-to-use web interface and choice of materials. “None of the other laser cutting services had the right material for what I wanted to make,” Scott says. “I like the feel of wood rather than metal or acrylic in the hand, and Ponoko has the 3.5mm thick premium veneered MDF that suited my project perfectly.”

Scott determined that using the premium walnut veneer surrounding a medium density fiberboard core on top and bottom was the best option for his calipers. “This materials ‘sandwich’ is far stronger and dimensionally stable compared to Baltic birch and other plywoods,” he explains. “The hard veneer layers help the Proportioner arms slide smoothly and they are quite attractive. The MDF core doesn’t warp, bend or twist like plywood does, an important consideration for the long slender arms in my device.”

Once he had made the materials decision, the next challenge for Scott was figuring out how to pack the maximum number of parts needed on the given sheet size to keep his costs in check. “The arms of the Proportioner are complex curves and optimally tiling them is non-trivial,” he says. “Having no automated way to do this, I did a lot of trial and error in AutoCAD until I ultimately was able to fit 25 Proportioners per sheet.”

In addition to creating the calipers, Scott designed a magnetic stand to hold them. The stand is assembled without tools, simply by pressing the finger joint together at a right angle. Micro bevels laser-cut into the finger joint ensure a snug fit. What’s cool about the stand is that it not only provides a convenient place to store the Proportioner, but it also converts the instrument into an attractive small sculpture when not in use.

Discovering The Golden Ratio In Your World

Open any art history book, and you’ll see that many old masters structured their compositions using the golden ratio, although this fact continues to largely go unrecognized.

See how Leonardo da Vinci used the golden ratio to create Bacchus (formerly Saint John The Baptist), while Michelangelo located the divine spark in The Creation Of Adam using the divine proportion.

golden-ratio-great-artworks

But the golden ratio isn’t limited to works of art; it can also be found in the more mundane. Just look at the structure of the ebony and ivory keys on the piano, or the configuration of vinyl records. Who knew making music had such beautiful mathematical proportions.

golden-ratio-piano-keyboard

golden-ratio-records

Scott says the golden ratio is the most succinct mathematical expression of the Hermetic concept, “As above, so below.” And he hopes that Proportioner users will feel empowered to discover the golden ratio for themselves in the natural world and in human-made objects.

Robert Lawlor, author of Sacred Geometry: Philosophy & Practice, said: “The golden ratio is a reminder of the relatedness of the created world to the perfection of its source and of its potential future evolution.” With the Proportioner, that creation just got easier.

 

Why We Love Laser Cut Matte Red, Blue & Purple Acrylics

New Materials in USA Catalog: 3 New Shades Of Matte Acrylic

Matte is the new smooth! With our new red, purple and light blue shades of matte acrylic, you can add a touch of luxury to your designs as well as a more diverse color palette.

Why We Love These Materials

These new colors are pretty sweet. No longer are you restricted to strong solid tones, now you have the option to use more subtle and refined colors in your designs.

What’s also great about these new acrylics is that they are matte on both sides, giving you an elegant textured finish that doesn’t show all those pesky fingerprints when handled.

Did we mention that they are translucent? This means you can rock them to diffuse light and play with a sense of depth in your designs.

With a 3mm thickness, these acrylics are perfect for lighting projects, jewelry, enclosures, signage, business cards, luggage tags, name badges or anything that needs a soft, matte finish.

Available Now – Matte Purple Acrylic

Need a color that’s better suited to your design sensibilities? …

purpleglasses

Check out our new Matte Purple Acrylic, it will have your designs looking like a gem. Here are some pretty nifty glasses that we remixed from the super cool designer ARTCAD on Thingiverse. Costumes and props have never looked so professional!

purple_edge_large

Learn more about Matte Purple Acrylic and grab a Sample.

Available Now – Matte Red Acrylic

Matte red will have you spinning …

redspinningtop

Our new Matte Red Acrylic is one of those versatile colors that inspires playfulness and fun. We had a play with 123D Make and made a wee spinning top. Let’s be honest, any excuse to make a toy for work is a good one. What toys/puzzles would you like to make?

red_edge_large

Learn more about Matte Red Acrylic and buy a Sample.

Available Now – Matte Light Blue Acrylic

Blue like a sunny summer’s day …

lightbluebowl

Our new Matte Light Blue Acrylic has such a subtle and pleasing color, we feel like cloud watching every time we look at it. Still on the 123D Make buzz, we whipped up the bowl pictured above. We think the translucent nature of the material complements the 3D form, to give it that extra point of interest.

light_blue_edge_large

Learn more about Matte Light Blue Acrylic and purchase a Sample.

Now It’s Your Turn

What do you think would look great in these three new Matte Acrylics? We’d love to hear how these new colors and textures inspire you. Share by leaving a comment below.

Or get straight to making with these awesome new acrylics!

 

Why We Love Laser Cut Green Glass Acrylic

New Material In NZ Catalog: Green Glass Acrylic

snowflakes_sml

This popular material in the USA is now also available in NZ! Introducing laser cuttable ‘glass’ without the cost.

Why Green Glass Acrylic Is Amazing

Green glass acrylic is smooth on both sides and transparent, making it perfect for projects where the objective is to have the look of glass without the high price and pesky breakage issue.

The mini snowflakes above really take advantage of the icy, glass-like color you get with this material. But keep in mind that the smaller the design, the less green and more transparent it will look on the edges.

Green Glass Acrylic And A Samsung Camera

Because of the transparent nature of green glass acrylic, you can combine it with other materials to create one-of-a-kind displays like this one from Milos Paripovic.

This point-of-sale store display for a Samsung camera was laser cut and then mirror foil was fixed to the head so customers could simultaneously see the back side of the camera. The design is certainly an attention-getter, and what could be better camera holder than a hand!

Green Glass Acrylic On Etsy

How are Etsy sellers using green glass acrylic in their shops? Check out this mini greenhouse from 2of2.

house

The little structure brings the outdoors in with an interior stand of tiny trees. The sleek geometric lines of this “glass-look” house are softened by the whimsy of the trees inside. A fun way to tap into the terrarium home décor trend.

Next, you won’t believe what OMGoshShop can do with green glass acrylic. Cut into the sensuous curve of the Kanagawa wave, this bracelet is based on the famous woodblock print by Hokusai.

bracelet

The waves, though they look ferocious, have been designed so that the tips won’t scratch or snag. The acrylic is etched, hand highlighted to emphasize the crashing waves, heated to 140+ degrees and then molded by hand. Unlike mass-made round bracelets, this cuff is oval and curves closely to the wrist making it comfortable for everyday wear.

Available Now – Green Glass Acrylic

This acrylic is clear with just a hint of green tint on the edges, giving you a subtle acrylic option versus the stronger colors available.

glass_green-10_large_large

Learn about Green Glass Acrylic details and get a Green Glass Acrylic Sample.

Now It’s Your Turn

You could clearly have tons of fun making with this new material. What ideas do you have? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment below. We have a $20 coupon for the best idea!

Maker Changes The World One Plant At A Time

By Combining Technology & Gardening, The Plant Doctor Is Shaping The Future Of Indoor & Outdoor Horticulture

plant-doctor-potAkin Yildiz has a mission: Change the world, one plant at a time. Through the Plant Doctor, a non-profit, open-source online research laboratory specializing in electronics and plants, Akin is shaping the future of indoor and outdoor horticulture.

But he didn’t always have such clarity in vision. In fact, after earning his degree in business management, Akin didn’t know what direction to take. He was working in a restaurant, teaching guitar and taking odd jobs. But gardening was on his mind.

“Gardening was a hobby, and I always wanted to teach people about gardening,” he says. “I wanted to make it so easy that anyone could just get up and do it without any hesitation. But I had no idea how to go about it.”

The Evolution Of A Maker (And A Movement)

The reason most people don’t garden, according to Akin, is that they either don’t have time or they are scared to fail. There’s also a broad segment of the population with no electronics or programing experience. He saw a need in the market and wanted to address it.

“Plants and electronics are two very important fields of human life, yet most of us know so little about them,” he says. “I believe to truly solve this problem, we need a game-like environment where the end user learns as they complete it.”

But there were no DIY kits that focused primarily on plants and electronics. Until he changed all that in 2014 with the Plant Doctor.

The Plant Doctor offers electronics kits that teach you how to build circuits, how to program computers and how to garden—a total beginners guide to the world of plants and electronics.

Akin says that most adults have little time to learn new skills like programming to pass onto their children, so he designed the educational kit to be easy to learn and suitable for any age group (non-toxic, solder free).

“Imagine receiving a box,” he explains. “Inside you have electronic components that can communicate with plants. You put together these color-coded components, like a puzzle. Once completed, you activate the computer and learn how to program it. You are now left with an instrument that can teach you how to garden.”

plant-doctor-grow-lightsSeveral kits are available from a simple plant pot that is completely mobile to serious systems with a box that can automate the watering and lights. He has even created a device that can be attached to an existing pot that monitors conditions and will email you when the plant needs, water, light or a temperature adjustment.

All Plant Doctor instruments are open source hardware and software, so anyone in the world can use them. No previous experience is necessary to assemble, program or garden—just plug and play. In just one weekend, you can learn how to program and build circuits that can implement this automation technology to your garden or home. Check out all the plans on Instructables.

plant-doctor-electronicsAkin’s vision to bring together nature and technology in a simple, non-harmful way is catching on. His Instructables page has garnered 600,000+ views and has thousands of followers. He has started a crowdfunding campaign to further develop this project and bring more awareness to smart plant technology around the world. And he’s also consulting and teaching.

“We have been offering in-person and online workshops to ages between 6 to 60+,” he says. “People who have never programmed or built circuits are now able to walk away from a two-hour-long class knowing enough to automate their homes, greenhouses, workshops—experiencing programming and circuit building first hand. “

The Bigger Picture Of Sustainable Food Production

Akin says his vision to teach the world how to program, build circuits and garden has gained attention over the last year and resulted in many conversations around the globe. Both experienced DIY greenhouse farmers and total beginners in plants or electronics are discussing the bigger implications of combining gardening with programming.

plant-doctor-future-vertical-garden“Imagine a giant building in the middle of the city, a building just for plants and to grow food vertically,” he says. “Vertical farms are the future of gardening. They require less resources, less space and yield higher crops than regular outdoor gardening methods. These buildings will become more common in the very near future.”

With smart plant technology getting more attention everyday, Akin says that automated food production will become more available to residential housing. “This technology will offer many new jobs in the near future,” he says. “This is why we offer our DIY kits so the next generation can grow up knowing how to program and control this technology. And by making it open source software and hardware, we are able to make it more accessible to a bigger population worldwide.”

The Plant Doctor educational tools are a glimpse to what the future holds. And what an interesting—and hopefully green—future it will be.

 

Maker Finds Success In $300 Billion Wedding Market

How THE little BLUE CHAIR Differentiates Itself By Branding Weddings

Weddings are big business. BIG. In fact, the global wedding industry is topping $300 billion (and growing every day), with U.S. spending contributing $58 billion of that. So how does a budding company differentiate its offerings and really standout in this crowded market? With some creativity—and great design.

Finding Passion In Printing

Hope Johnson, founder of THE little BLUE CHAIR (TLBC), has always been inspired by an old world, organic touch. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she incorporates her southern surroundings, organic textures and textiles into a suite of wedding products that includes semi-custom and full custom wedding favors, table numbers and stationery.

While Hope says she has a strong appreciation for the handmade, an unearthly attraction to the handwritten and an undeniable love for love, she didn’t set out to be a stationary designer. No, her initial major at Louisiana State University was something much less artistic: Business.

But after nearly failing freshman economics, she changed her major to Fine Arts, which evidently was not a surprise to her friends and family. She focused her course training in printmaking…and spent a lot of time in the basement of the LSU print lab. From silkscreen to lithography to intaglio to bookbinding and letterpress, a labor of love was born.

Bringing A Couple’s Story To Life

Fast forward, and Hope acquired a couple letterpress machines and built a studio where TLBC creations come to life. But designing wedding stationary is a highly competitive business. That’s why Hope takes a different approach (perhaps those business courses were beneficial after all). She thinks bigger, beyond providing the tangible invitation.

“Every day, I am faced with the task of bringing a couple’s story to life,” she says. “My clients are often creatives themselves, bombarded with inspiration from every angle—an overload even. My job is to dig deep to the roots of the couple’s story and put that on paper.”

If that sounds like a daunting task, it is. An endless amount of creative energy is put fourth for each project, fabricating inspiration from beginning to end.

img_2215

“I call myself a stationery designer, but really, and maybe not officially, I’m a wedding branding designer,” Hope explains. “I brand the wedding from start to finish with much more than just the invitation.”

Much more indeed. TLBC offers custom stationery design, specialty assembly, fine cotton papers, letterpress printing, “will you be my bridesmaid?” cards, wood etched address stamps, hand painted detailing, vintage stamps, silkscreen, wedding day gifts, vow prints, wedding party accessories—and all of the other things brides forget they need.

Hope says that couples often use aspects of what she has created to have other key pieces made for their big day. “I help curate a ‘collection’ of items to bring that brand, that story, to life,” she says. “I often bring a second layer of texture on top of the paper with specialty made wood-cuts. Those same familiar pieces may be found in and around the big day.”

What started with just paper has turned into a number of pieces—from cake toppers, wedding-day signage and reception décor—that help orchestrate a couple’s story from engagement through the big day. And that’s where Ponoko comes in.

Expanding Product Offerings With Laser Cutting

Adding customization makes TLBC products standout among the hundreds of other wedding stationery suppliers, and Hope’s creativity plus unique sense of style needed the right supplier match.

“Texture plays a large role for my inspiration,” she says. “I have a very organic feel to most of my work paired with a natural color pallet. I often find a suitable need to bring in wood aspects to achieve a certain level of emotion and to get that natural, textural feel many of my brides opt for.”

To attain this authentic aesthetic, she knew mass-produced, off-the-shelf wedding items wouldn’t work for her clientele: Couples that have impeccable taste, appreciate a nicely hosted gathering, and have a vision and story to tell.

With a quick internet search, she found Ponoko. After discovering the streamlined making process, Hope could easily navigate her work into a space where she can see, quote and order in a timely manner.

“These solutions have allowed me to easily and affordably introduce custom products as opposed to the mass-produced options that scour the internet,” she says. “Since finding Ponoko, I’ve been able to introduce a new line of options for my clients, from wood cut assembly details, cake toppers, wedding signage and more. I can easily reorder, alter materials and see what works best for the job.”

img_1698

To see more of Hope’s creations, check out the collection of custom work, DIY projects, etiquette help and wedding planning tips at thelittlebluechair.com.

Setting A Foundation For Years Of Happiness

So what does a blue chair have to do with weddings? More than you think.

It began as an actual little blue chair sat on to unwrap Christmas gifts. The sentiment of unveiling and the surprise element of the package became the foundation of the business.

Hope continues to aim for the simplicity in her work, with an appreciation for imperfections. Between illustration, organic typefaces and letterpress, that goal seems to be accomplished again and again.

Her clear direction and design aesthetic have created a solid base for her business to continue growing. Here’s to living happily ever after.

 

 

Make Oh-So On-Trend Light Boxes

New Material: Opal Acrylic Is Re-Released In The NZ Catalog

opal-acrylic-laser-cut-lightbox

If you want to light up someone’s life, then you need to be making with the re-released Opal Acrylic. With its popularity in the USA, we’re now bringing it back to New Zealand for all the makers down under.

Why Opal Is A Great Choice

Since it’s the first single color 2mm acrylic in NZ, makers benefit from a lower base material cost. Additionally, the thinner thickness is faster to cut through, so it costs less to make the same design on 2mm than on 3mm. Double cost savings. Sweet!

Opal Acrylic is slightly translucent, making it perfect for projects where the objective is to diffuse light—such as electronics projects, signs and lamp shades. Or make a light box to really be on-trend.

opal-acrylic-laser-cut-lightbox-bamboo-frame

How Etsy Sellers Are Using Opal Acrylic

RoKDesignStudio has made this lamp from natural oiled oak, complemented by red twisted cloth vintage wire and opal acrylic for light diffusion. Use it on the floor, bookshelf, table or anywhere else where a mood light can be placed to create atmosphere.

What Else Can You Use It For?

Opal Acrylic isn’t limited to functional light sources. It can also be used artistically. Helen Reynolds, a Wellington-based artist, created a series of work exploring cloud shape and formation, including a sculptural installation she created with the help on Ponoko’s laser cutting service. See behind the scenes of how she did it in the article “Creating Cloudscape Sculptures From Laser Cut Layers.”

Acrylic – Opal

The acrylic tends to pick up light on the edges, which gives off a kind of subtle glow. And the color of light can easily be changed by using different colored light bulbs.

opal_cut_edges

Learn more about Opal Acrylic and get a Sample.

What bright ideas do you have for making with this re-released acrylic? Would it be functional…or more artistic? We’d love to hear all about it. Share by leaving a comment below!

 

New Ultrasuedes: You “Can” Touch This

3 New Shades Of Ultrasuede Added To The USA Materials Catalog

bone-ultrasuede-card-case

Forget what M.C. Hammer says. When it comes to our three new shades of ultrasuede, you can touch this.

Why Ultrasuede is Special

A synthetic microfiber fabric with a natural-looking suede surface, ultrasuede is sooooooo soft that you can’t keep your hands off it. In addition to its tactile appeal, the new black, bone and red colors are beautiful aesthetically too.

Ultrasuede is special because being synthetic means it’s a vegan alternative to leather—so it’s great for carnivores and herbivores alike. And since the polyester used in ultrasuede is recovered from pre-consumer waste, it is appealing to those with environmental and sustainability concerns.

ultrasuede-hang-tag-document-pouch

Ultrasuede – Black

Black is a great choice to compliment stationary.  You can make items such as book covers, bookmarks, document pouches and business card holders. Incorporate it into branding with items such as clothing labels and hangtags. Or make fashion accessories such as bags, purses and wallets.

black_ultrasuede_cut_edges

Learn more about Black Ultrasuede and get a Sample.

Ultrasuede – Bone

We love this natural color, which has a great contrast when engraved. You could even combine the flexibility of ultrasuede with hard materials to give designs added texture and depth. However it is used, ultrasuede looks beautiful with engraved text, design—or both.

bone_ultrasuede_cut_edges

Learn more about Bone Ultrasuede and get a Sample.

Ultrasuede – Red

Use red for a pop of color. If you’re obsessing over ultrasuede (like we are!), you may also want to check out the three colors we debuted in August: Caramel, Coffee Bean and Executive Gray. To see all the materials currently available, check out the USA Catalog.

red_ultrasuede_cut_edges

Learn more about Red Ultrasuede and get a Sample.

Are you as stoked about these new ultrasuedes as we are? Give us a shout in the comment box and let us know what you can’t wait to make with these new materials.