One of the best things about working with laser cutters is watching materials transform. Starting with simple sheets of metal, we can create so many different things: from automotive parts to garden sculptures, tiny letters for a garden to ornate gates.
Laser cutting doesn’t just change the shape of the material either, with some clever cutting, you can change the way the material responds. So, from a hard piece of wood, you can, using cleverly placed laser cut patterns, create a material that bends and flexes naturally in your hands.
The Laser Cut Arch
Also known as parametric flexible wood, this laser cut design allows the material to bend in one direction to create an arch. This opens up all sorts of design possibilities using curved wood but we think these small projects show the scope of the design.
Laser Cut Enclosure with Living Hinge Lid
This cute project on Instructables did, on first look appear to be a little mouse house or similarly adorable home for someone little and fluffy. On closer inspection, this project was built to house a wireless sensor node – great idea!
Like a mouse, the wireless sensor node does need good airflow but it also needs a port for the antenna. The aim of the design was also to be attractive enough to sit on a shelf unnoticed.
Laser Cut Fashion Fix
This stylish clutch bag demonstrates the ways that parametric flexible wood could inform fashion designers too. The soft sweep of the curve tapering up to the stags head clasp is quite the fashion statement.
Lighting up Laser Innovations
Taking parametric flexible wood to its extreme, this light shade design bends the wood all the way around to create a full circle. In this case the pattern isn’t just functioning to facilitate the curve of the wood, when the light is switched on, it will cast shadows around the room with the repeating pattern.
Who wouldn’t want a lamp that is as intriguing switched off as it is switched on?
The Super Flexible Double Curvature Surface
Being able to bend wood in one direction is impressive, but what if you were able to bend a surface in a few directions?
This is what they asked at koFAKTORlab where they have developed a pattern that can be laser cut onto plywood to create a material able to bend in both directions. By cutting rectangular spirals whose segments twist in both directions, the material becomes more flexible and can be bent corner to corner as well as edge to edge in all directions.
Here’s how they printed their solution:
But what can you use this kind of super flexible plywood for? Let us know on Twitter @subconlaser