44: Ready Made Files

I’m smitten, totally smitten by this awesome bee puzzle.  Yes, we made it on our laser, but no, this is not our design.  This week I want to talk about the wealth of resources available for laser cutters, in the form of ready-made files.

Bees! (3 of 6)


The learning curve on a laser can be a bit daunting sometimes.  In drawing, you can just pick up a pencil and go to town.  For collage, scissors and glue are your best friend.  Lasers?  Well first, you have to learn a a design program that can make a file that the laser understands before it will even start to work.  And that’s just the start.

The individual bee pits - you can see how they connect!

The individual bee bits – you can see how they connect!

You may notice most of my work is flat – I am not yet totally comfortable in taking flat objects and know how to assemble them into 3D space.  I’ve attempted making some pendant lamps before, but never was wholly satisfied.  (It’s on the list to try to perfect for a week in the future, I promise!)  So creating something like this bee would be way out of my comfort zone.

The lamps worked well, in theory.I was never satisfied with my materials or the bare bulb.

The lamps worked well, in theory.I was never satisfied with my materials or the bare bulb.  Photo is from my very first Renegade Chicago, back in 2009!  Thanks to my awesome booth helper, Brenn.

Luckily, many other laser users that have shared their awesome projects on-line, for free!

liscence bee

Creative Commons License

This bee was originally shared by Thingiverse user Mutsuki.  If you check out the project page, you’ll see that original, laser cutter files are available for download, and the Creative Commons license tells you how you can use this project.  The string of icons in this case indicate it is under Commons Commons (the CC), that is must be attributed to the original artist (the person icon), the project cannot be used commercially, only privately ($), and you are more than welcome remix or build on the idea, but it must have the same licencing as the original (the circling arrow.)

Because Mutsuki shared the design for remixes and improvements, I actually downloaded the design from sahrchitect, who modified the design to work with 3mm material, among other things.

Some great places to get free projects:

– Thingiverse is probably my favorite.   They have a good sense of community, the liscencing is clearly stated and the files are easily downloaded. They do focus on 3D printed projects,  but just do a search for “Laser” or “lasercut

Trotec, a laser manufacturing company out of Michigan.  What better way to show off your machines than having projects ready to go! You can find them under “Samples.”  The laser engraved rolling pin is quite awesome!

Epilog is also another popular laser manufacturer.  The Sample Club is full of ideas – even a laser cut 3D T-Rex model head.  How awesome would that be mounted to your wall?

My personal DOs and DON’T for free files

– DO look rights and usage.  Many projects are for personal use only.  Respect this.

– DO give attribution to the original designer.  You know they did something awesome, give them credit.

– DON’T redistribute shared files without permission.

– DO use the files to try something you haven’t before, or the get an idea how something works.  Building Mutsuki’s 3D bee helped me see how it was designed, and I can use that knowledge for potential future designs.

– DO use the files as a springboard to make your own amazing.

The connections were so loose on the first bee, he couldn't keep his face on!

The connections were so loose on the first bee, he couldn’t keep his face on!

– DON’T expect files to work immediately and perfectly.  I had to cut three bees before we had one that slotted together tightly. Designers post what works for them – material thickness and laser powers vary by user.

– DO share your own designs, or designs that you have improved.  Unless you need to protect your livelihood (hence why I don’t share Isette or Beadeux designs) sharing your knowledge helps make the laser community that much better!  (I’m planning to go through our 52 lasers posts to sort out what was for fun, and what was for business.)

DO add dramatic lighting to picture.  Dead bee!  Oh no!

DO add dramatic lighting to picture. Dead bee! Oh no!Bees! (2 of 6)

Where are my specimen pins…

Bees! (6 of 6)

The florescent yellow was great for this project! (Unlike Week 13 : Alcohol Inked acrylic)



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