Ponoko

Laser cut wood

Wood is an incredibly versatile material for laser cutting and engraving. You can use it for jewellery, fashion accessories, ornaments, decorations, custom containers...heck, even furniture!

Almost any wooden item you dream up can become a reality with Ponoko.

Showroom

Showroom
Bamboo Cake Toppers
by Valerie Thai
Castle Under Attack
Toy Model

by Andrea Garuti
Fox And Babies Brooch
by Sally Crossthwaite
Wood Camera
by Christopher Bril

Materials

MDF
Natural

0.251 inches

Bamboo
Amber

0.106 inches

Cork
Natural

0.118 inches

MDF - Natural

What is it

A particle board consisting of fine wood fibres pressed into a panel with the addition of resin and wax.

MDF has a thickness tolerance of +/-10% the stated material thickness.

Design notes

MDF has a smooth sanded finish that is a pale brown color.

Typical uses

MDF is typically used joinery and furniture applications.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Construction adhesives will bond boards well. Follow the adhesive manufacturer's instructions for application processes. Screw joints should be pre-drilled to avoid splitting.

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Bamboo - Amber

What is it

Five layers of bamboo veneer cross laminated to produce a plywood board.

Bamboo has a thickness tolerance of +/-10% the stated material thickness.

Design notes

A golden brown color with a fine grain. The bamboo joints are visible on the surface and break up the grain creating a unique appearance.

Sometimes sheets of this material may not be very flat when we get it from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, this is the nature of material. The inherent tension in the grain of the wood and the way it is constructed means the panels can warp after manufacturing.

Be aware of this when designing for this material. If possible arrange your designs on P1 sized templates.

Grain direction will always run horizontal as drawn on the computer screen.

Typical uses

Cabinetmaking, furniture fittings & linings, Also ideal for commercial and residential interior fittings and linings. Not suitable for exterior use.

Environmental info

Bamboo is 100% renewable.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Bamboo panel can be cut and sanded using conventional woodworking equipment and offers excellent dimensional stability. It can also be glued or mechanically fastened using the same materials and fasteners commonly used with wood.

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Cork - Natural

What is it

Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree. Cork is light weight, rot resistant, compressible and recoverable, expandable, fire resistant in its natural state, impermeable, soft, and buoyant.

Design notes

A brown/tan spotty color.

Be aware of this when designing for this material. If possible arrange your designs on P1 sized templates.

Grain direction will always run horizontal as drawn on the computer screen.

Typical uses

Coasters and placemats. Bulletin board material and sectional wall covering. Also ideal for certain gasket applications, shipping and spacer pads, protective backing and numerous other industrial, commercial and hobby requirements.

Environmental info

The cork bark can be 'stripped' off allowing new bark to grow in its place without killing or damaging the trees. This makes every tree a renewable source of raw material.

Adhesives, joints & fastenings

Construction adhesives will bond boards well. Follow the adhesive manufacturer's instructions for application processes.

Order a sample

Getting started

Latest article about laser cutting

How To: Design a Living Hinge

De-mystifying the ins and outs of laser cut curved surfaces

For the most part, laser cut objects consist of flat panels that are either cut or etched before being assembled into a final configuration. There is another way to use laser cutting to create 3D objects from flat materials, and it uses a clever design element called a Lattice or Living Hinge.

It is more common to see makers and hobbyists using Living Hinges in laser cut wood, because the properties of this material allow for a significant degree of flex before the material fractures. There are also examples of Living Hinges successfully being implemented in acrylic enclosures, which demonstrates the versatility of this technique – because without using heat to assist bending, acrylic tends to be notoriously brittle.

We’re going to take a look at two approaches to designing a living hinge – starting with the more accessible trial-and-error method, and then diving in to an overview of the mathematics behind how flat materials can become bendy.

The experimental approach is a good place to start off, particularly if you have access to a laser cutter or a service like Ponoko. Living hinges work by exploiting the natural tendency for materials to flex around an array of cuts or notches. As we will see, it is possible to achieve this effect with quite a diverse visual impact; as the core concept of strategically placed cuts can still be achieved using many design variations.

In the following test cuts by Martin Breuer, different patterns were evaluated for their pliability and strength across several criteria. You can read more about his simple experiments and the conclusions he reached here.

There are a number of similar experiments documented on Instructables, with many providing sample patterns you can try out yourself. Files are available to download from Aaron Porterfield, and you can also read his reflections on the flexibility of Lattice Hinge patterns as he explores the potential to bend materials in more than one direction.

Experiments and trial-and-error are one thing, but wrapping your head around the numbers behind what’s actually physically happening to the material gives you an insight into what to expect from your outcomes. While many makers have generously dedicated time to explain the mysteries of the living hinge, the efforts of the Open Source Engineering Hub at Deferred Procrastination go further than most.

“I realised that a bit of mathematical modelling could lead to better designed hinges. This could mean fewer rounds of trial-and-error prototype tests, which would reduce the cost of using lattice hinges in a project.”

In addition to the optimisation of living hinge design for static objects, an added bonus of the mathematical approach is that it opens up the possibility for hinges to be designed for use in moving parts as well.

The key is understanding how to manage the torsional yield stress of the material, which means each of the spring connections will move enough to return to its original shape without permanent deformation.

This can be calculated quite precisely; so long as the following nomenclature doesn’t scare you away:

- Torque (Nm)
- Connected length (m)
- Torsional Modulus of the material (Pa)
- Polar Moment of Inertia for non-circular sections (m4)
- Torsional Stress (Pa)
- material thickness (m)
- number of links in series
- angle of twist (radians)
- total bend angle of the piece

Watch how the numbers are de-mystified a little in the full walkthrough onDeferred Procrastination; and if that was a walk in the park, then dive in to the more advanced tests for a deeper understanding.

Knowing how Living Hinges work can really change the way you approach designing for laser cutting. As we’ve seen here, the experimental approach can be a fun way to get real world results but it is also not too difficult to go a little further into the mathematics behind what is actually happening to the material.

Have you used Living Hinges in your designs before? Whether you prefer to crunch the numbers first or just wing it and see what comes out, let us know how you go in the comments below.

Example of DIY tests: Martin Breuer

Experiments and sample patterns: Aaron Porterfield via Instructables

How it works: Deferred Procrastination

Advanced trials: Deferred Procrastination