Beta project(s) eleven - experimental edition

This last week has been rough. Between deadlines at the day job kicking my butt, and my wife winding up to finish her masters (YAY!), there has not been much time for the Glowforge.

So most of what I did was just experiment, and none of the experiments really worked out, and that is OK.

Experiment #1
I like “living hinges”, but all the ones I have seen end up looking machine generated (surprise). I wanted to try making one with hand drawn line segments to see what that might look like.

It looks interesting, but fails miserably as a hinge.

Lessons learned:

  • Pay attention to how the hinge actually works and don’t get lost in doodling.
  • Avoid horizontal lines.
  • Padauk has fairly short fibers and seems more brittle when twisted than maple.

Odds I will try this again:

  • Medium

Experiment #2
I messed around with making dotted lines in Illustrator to cut fold lines on book board or chipboard. This worked surprisingly well.

Lessons learned:

  • Illustrator tricks FTW!
  • Chipboard has a very pronounced grain direction, and folding across it usually fails.

Odds I will try this again:

  • High

Experiment #3

Some time ago I had seen a lamp shade laser cut from plywood that was just a spiral hanging around the bulb. I had the idea that I could make other three dimensional forms this way, and started working on a “bowl”. The basic idea was that the spiral would be supported by curved ribs with steps in the right places so that when viewed from the side it formed a nice hemisphere. This took a lot of figuring, and drawing construction lines, and gluing, and cursing, but I got something that sort of worked. Then when asked for an opinion, the resident designer told me it looked “cheesy” (I secretly agreed, which is why I asked her in the first place). With all the wind taken out of my sails I gave up.

Spirals are still super cool though and I will keep thinking about them as structural forms. I particularly liked the ones I made with 2 lines next to each other. Even with brittle acrylic these are quite stretchy as evidenced by pulling one up around a Heavy Thing™.

Lessons learned:

  • Acrylic bowls look cheesy.
  • Spirals are fun to play with.
  • Light piping through spirals is worth further exploration.

Odds I will try this again:

  • Low

Finally I made a box to hold a thing. I can’t say how much I love the Glowforge for this application. In this case it was a super precise level that I borrowed from a friend while working on my milling machine (each division is .0001” in 10” for the machine nerds amongst us).

Since he had bought it off ebay sans box, I thought I would say thanks by making one to fit. The only thing special here is that I thought to cut the box big so you can get your fingers in there, and I made a snug fitting cut out that glued into the bottom to actually hold the level in place. Oh, and I made the little clasp out of some scrap brass and felt overly accomplished.


Being a user that is going to creating product with a LOT of horizontal lines, I have have to ask why on the avoidance comment.


I love that you posted the “mistakes”!! Those are not failures, but merely steps towards success!! When I got my first laser, there was no Facebook or support groups for lasers. Much trial and error, but I learned alot from doing it.

Forge on Joshforge II :grinning:


I’m pretty sure @jkopel just meant lines perpendicular to the hinging point in living hinges…


Okay, how about designing a hinge based on spirals, since they are so flexible? Note, this is not a request, just a thought experiment.


It’s hard to see in the photo, but it looks like you made a fitted space in the bottom the exact dimensions of the tool, to keep it from shifting. If so, awesome!


Lots to learn, glad you are experimenting for us.


Thanks for the post. I’m excited that not all your posts are complete success stories, but a realistic outlook on how the experience with a laser will be. Thank you.


As always, nice work!
If it’s not too much trouble could you explain how you did the dashed lines in illustrator?


I can’t imagine how hard that was. I spend a fair amount of time deciphering the difference in the way the Chinese , Red Sail and Epilog lasers all handle the exact same input. Waste way more time than I ought to when making anything. At least I have forums and user groups and YouTube to help. Going it on your own must have been a continuous “will it work today” adventure.


Congratulations to your wife for the impending degree. Interesting spread of projects, it will be fun to just play around with the possibilities once the GF ships.


The spirals are of great interest to me as parts of acrylic clocks. Not power springs, but for regulating. Your experiment was a great success. Also liked the box.


Nice! I really like the spiral!
Now a question, not sure if you are allowed to answer it, or if @dan has to. The chipboard, is it Proofgrade™?


Way cool! I am wondering whether some kind of Peano Curve (or something like it) could make a good living hinge. There are probably some rules you could give a curve-making algorithm to get something that would work and also look really different.

I’ve done a little playing with scroll-saw spirals, and it seems you need vertical thickness to be seriously greater than ribbon width. This is also a situation where extra axes on the laser head would be useful, because if you could tilt the cut you could make the whole thing self-supporting with just a little glue.


Well, that’s not how you spell piano - oh….

Haha. I swear I spend half the time I’m on the forum just googling all the things I don’t understand. At least half the time. When it’s a technically, sciency, engineeringy discussion, it’s literally like every other sentence.


I have tons of new ideas for the spiral. One is a spiral wood or side lit acrylic slinky used as ornaments.


The material we’re providing Josh is all being considered for Proofgrade inclusion but is in various stages of development. The chipboard is from one vendor but isn’t anything very special (unlike e.g. the 1/4" plywood, which is custom fabricated and has the protective coating).

Oh, and @jkopel, so you don’t have to waste all the hardwood… you basically need plywood or MDF to make a living hinge. We have many splinters in testament to this. :wink: If we didn’t get you any, let us know and we can fix that.


Nice experiments Josh. Thanks for the time to document. The spiral bowl does have promise. Common as a wooden fruit bowl. Perhaps possible with flipped cut to get a thicker material that is registered well.


Ya I had thoughts of making these bows as well but typically I see them at 3/4 - 1 and from my under standing we only get 1/2 with flip. Does anyone know because the focus is more than that if we could multi pass and actually get more then 1/4 on one side? Thought is make two or thee passes to get 1/2 flip and do it again? Crumb tray removed with proper standoffs most likely needed


So glad to see you’re able to experiment and post beta projects again… I missed them.