Beta project 16 (Hover Pucks)

I was curious about making very small features with the Glowforge, and I needed an excuse to make them, so… Hoverpucks™!

These are little balloon powered toy hovercraft.

I constructed them by stacking up cut rings of acrylic and gluing it all together.
The air is released out of a ring of tiny .01” holes cut into the bottom.

Here is a much larger array of these holes, that was useless for a hoverpuck, but is still interesting for a number of other applications.

It makes me think of filter plates for processing precipitates in chemistry, or a vacuum chuck for holding down flat things, or air bearings or any number of other places where an even grid of tiny holes would be needed.

I also learned about annealing acrylic to release the stresses induced by laser cutting.
Normally when you cut and then put solvent glue on acrylic, it almost immediately starts to show tiny hairline cracks as the surface softens. If left alone these cracks significantly weaken a large structure since they form lots of points of failure under load.
According to what I have read, if you first anneal the plastic in an oven at 230F it releases the internal stress and allows you to glue the parts without cracking.
For a lot more info… PMMA – Americas

It is definitely worth a try! These cracks gave me a major headache when I was making these:

Anyway this was a fun diversion.
Video (maybe too long) included for further information and a brief demo…


That is an outstanding tip. I have to do the same with glass beads but at far higher temps. I never would have thought to do it for acrylic. Thanks!


This is amazing! I want to try some of these myself now too. Brilliant idea.


Great project!

Does anyone know if this applys to both cast and extruded acrylic?

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I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be yes.
The laser melts just a tiny bit of the edge next to the area that gets vaporized, and as it cools and contracts it wants to pull the rest of the sheet with it.
I would be willing to bet that ANY thermoplastic (as opposed to thermoset) will act the same way.


Thanks @dan, you should try and find balloons with the shortest possible “stem” otherwise they get floppy, fall over, and put the brakes on. :slight_smile:


Awesome, thanks!

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Once again another creative idea you have come up with. Truly appreciate your sharing what you learned including how to anneal the plastic.

Keep up the great work as you help to keep all of us dreaming about the day we can make fun things like this with our Glowforge :slight_smile:


This is awesome! whats a cool application. And using the laser for a unique feature. It would be tough to make those holes with other common tools :wink:


Love this!! Really makes you think of so many different applications for this kind of thing!


What? You don’t have a 0.01" drill bit for your drill press? (and about 2 hours to drill a zillion holes)

I don’t think they even make those sized bits (at least not for sale at Home Depot LOL).

Lasers make some incredible things possible. Software helps enormously - making the difference between “drilling” one hole and 500 holes trivial. Great for replacing the sewing hole punch for leather by the way. I love the future. :slight_smile:


I wonder how the piece with the tiny holes would look if it was edge lit? That could be combined with etching to give a graphic a whole other look/texture.


We need a play date at JKopel’s house for a night of Glowforging and hover-pucking.


Do you think you could turn this into a poor man’s air hockey?

If you had a sufficiently flexible and light weight tube hung from the ceiling and hooked it to my compressor?



No reason you couldn’t use the GF to cut holes in the main base board for your own air hockey…

Put it in a box with a reverse vacuum cleaner???


I do like the idea of air hockey without the special table… how about just mounting a DC fan to the back of one of these pucks and adding a lithium rechargeable battery to power it?

Maybe a quick experiment is in order for next Laser Thursday…


I like this but your puck would be getting pretty heavy. I have vivid memories of getting air hockey pucks to the knuckles. haha i can imagine taking one that has a battery and fan glued to it.
Not to dissuade you, definitely worth trying!


How about just hover puck races. Sloped board with some tracks on it, down to a level surface. Kind of like Cub Car races for kids. Choose your balloon size and race. I think it would be interesting to see at which point the weight, air resistance of a large balloon becomes a detriment. Good for physics class.

Edit - New idea. Put a 3/4" block under one side of the acrylic then laser the holes. I want to know if it just spins in place or scoots along on its own.


@jamesdhatch Sorry this is the smallest I have…

Although to be fair the actual holes are ~.007 bigger since I did not bother to account for kerf.

@ned This might work if you have LOTS of holes (like my large sample), for the ones with fewer holes you need fairly high pressure but lower volume.

@Jamie I LOVE that idea! I tried putting a side exit in to see if the exhaust would push the puck. It kinda does, but it mainly just spins around.


OooOo i like where your going with this.
On a Gf you would be limited to .5" slope. but maybe enough to get a little push.

and for those wondering. (cause i know it did) Here is a place to get those silly small drill bits. Ive used them in the medical industry, but i guess they are labeled for circuitry use.