The most advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet

The humble sandwich transformed into a technological accomplishment.

Dr. Thomas Modeen of Qatar has used a laser cutter to create what may be the most advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet. At the very least, this is the most thought someone has ever devoted to the most humble of lunches.

While laser cutting is often used to decorate food, Dr. Modeen has actually tried to improve the food. Basically, he cut little individual pockets to keep the peanut butter and jelly separate until the last possible moment. I’ll let him explain the rest after the jump (with a lot more pictures).

Eat gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches with Ponoko + TechShop at San Francisco Design Week

Register for the Ponoko/Techshop mixer June 15 at SF Design Week

San Francisco Design Week runs June 13—19, and Ponoko and Techshop will be there representin’ digital making — and eating grilled cheeses.

The Ponoko/Techshop mixer is Wednesday, June 15 from 5 to 8pm.
Held at TechShop SF: 926 Howard Street San Francisco, CA

There’s gonna be free drinks, and The American will be on hand grilling up gourmet cheese sandwiches. And you can talk with staff from Ponoko and TechShop about your making projects, learn all about 3D printing, CNC routing, and laser-cutting, and take a TechShop tour.

Plus, we’re giving away a FULL material sample kit.

This event is free, but RSVPs are filling up fast. So REGISTER NOW yo.

Be sure to check out the Open Studios going on nearby at the same time and all the other SF Design Week events.

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.


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.



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.


Laser Cutting from a Galaxy Far Far Away

When The Force is strong

laser cut millenium falcon

When May the Fourth comes around each year, a whole galaxy of sci-fi fans kind of go nuts – well, more nuts than usual. It’s a fun time for these movie enthusiasts, and making models of the classic space vehicles from the original films can be a great way to share your enthusiasm with fellow fanatics.

Laser cutting is perfect for replicating the complex surface details of the iconic space vehicles, as has been well demonstrated by Thingiverse user Costaricaorca in the image above.

For others, the surface details take second place behind the actual shape of the vehicles. Once again, laser cutting provides an accessible way to replicate these forms and the following examples show how you don’t need much before it’s quite clear where the reference for the various machines comes from.


Millenium Falcon by Killor; Waker by BillyMcCoy; and Star Destroyer with Tie Fighters by Breakfastsandwich

There are more like these to be found, uploaded by enthusiasts of all skill levels and experience to design community sites such as Thingiverse. Some have been made on laser cutters at local maker spaces, while others are zipped through during ‘spare time’ by employees lucky enough to have an on-site laser cutter at work. Another option that is accessible to all is to download files from Thingiverse and then have the parts cut in the material of your choice in the Ponoko Personal Factory.

May the fourth be with you…


The Most Advanced Peanut Butter Mixer Ever

Arduino-Controlled Peanut Butter Mixer from Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder has an awesome writeup of Ponoko over on Foundry – the show and tell site for makers.

If you’re a fan of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, you’re familiar with the natural separation of oils that occurs after opening your jar of peanut-buttery goodness.

Made from laser cut bamboo from Ponoko – Mark’s Arduino-powered invention helps stirs the yummy ingredients back together for smooth spreading.

This ingenious tool not only helps solve the mess associated with mixing natural peanut butters, it’s a great example of what’s possible when you combine the precision of laser cutting with a bit of creativity.

You could say that ingenuity & laser cutting compliment each other like, well, peanut butter & jelly.

The ten coolest things done with laser-cutting in 2011!

Best of the Blog 2011 – Laser Cutting

I knew it was going to be tough when I picked the Laser Cutting category to pick the best posts from, but wow – there really were a lot of amazing stories in 2011 to choose from.

These are my favourites from last year, but if you think that I’ve missed a critical project, please mention it in the comments below!

1. The most advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet


This is also #1 in my “favourite headlines of 2011” category. Dr. Thomas Modeen used a laser cutter to engineer a perfect food experience, distributing pockets of PB & J into even, calculated bites.

If I am ever a wealthy man, there will be a laser cutter in my kitchen. Be sure to read through to the source for a video of the laser in action!

Read: The most advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet


Robot chefs take over the kitchen

Today’s menu: Sandwiches and popcorn

We’ve seen a few tasty treats get the high-tech treatment, but this sandwich has a different flavour altogether.

Usually, a robot’s moves are pre-programmed so that precision outcomes are the end result.

Researchers at the University of Munich took a more human approach to their robot chefs, and equipped “James” and “Rosie” with fancy headpieces in the form of a Microsoft Kinect. This enables the robots to evaluate what is in front of them and make decisions on the fly.

The result is a less-than-perfect bowl of popcorn and multi-layered sandwich, and it does take them a while to get it right. Having said that, it’s a great deal more impressive letting the robots work out what to do for themselves, rather than transposing plastic and plywood for foodstuffs, as we’ve seen in the past.

Check out the video, after the break.  (more…)

Happy Thanksgiving — a digitally fabricated feast

3D printed turkey and more!

Since we eat the same meal every Thanksgiving, I figured why not post the same Thanksgiving story from last year. Enjoy your 3D printed turkey and lasercut Apple apple pie!


While you’re waiting, have a coincidentally Jewish themed snack: portrait matzo from Matzography (via Printersting) or a lasercut banana from Wouter Walmink (via Craft).


I’m starting this Thanksgiving dinner off fancy: a duck consomme with a lasercut nori (seaweed) garnish from Seattle Food Geek (via Craft Gossip). Moving on to lasercut ham sandwiches by Jan Habraken and Alissia Melka Teichroew (via Dutch Art Events). Yum!

The full meal is after the jump.


Big fun at SF Design Week mixer

Big crowd on hand for Ponoko and TechShop hosted event.

Ponoko + TechShop

This past Wednesday Ponoko and TechShop hosted a gathering as part of San Francisco Design Week. By all accounts it was a huge success as designers from all over the Bay Area came to learn how to turn their design ideas into actual products.

We showed off creations made with Ponoko Personal Factory and the folks at TechShop gave tours of the facility which houses an impressive collection of fabrication machines for their members to use.  Of course the grilled cheese sandwiches were a hit and I enjoyed playing bartender for the night. I even refused a few tips!

We also had a drawing to win a material samples kit.  Congratulations to David Polifko of San Francisco.  David is a professional designer and will be teaching a design course this summer at UC Berkeley Extension, so the samples will come in handy!

We’d like to give a  big thank you to San Francisco Design Week for including Ponoko in their jam packed week of events.

Check out a few more pictures from the event.

If a Laser Cuts In The Woods…

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #21

Hey, Sam here. I’m back collecting this week’s posts from The Laser Cutter!

Starting off this woodsy-week is this laser cut mountain-man from Christopher Bettig and cut/etched by Grovemade.

After the jump a tree, another tree, somethings that have nothing to do with trees other than they are made of paper, and an amazing event. (more…)