Cardboard + Lasers = Burnt Cardboard

I assure you this post contains 300% more laser packed action than all previous content.  But first, I found some low-tech design sketches that are demanding attention.  So check them out!

Blue = Glue, naturally
And so the slide idea was born. And it was good...

Revelation No. 1: One Piece Suit

I really liked the idea of making the entire box out of one piece of folded cardboard.  After making a few prototypes that embodied this idea, I noticed that the large footprint prohibited me from nesting them in a way that would allow me to cut out multiple boxes from one sheet.  Soooo, rather than have a one piece expensive cardboard box, I threw my initial design intention out the window and went for the more multiple friendly two piece box.  What can I say?  I am a sellout.

I suspect you are challenging the validity of my previous paragraph.  So here is the image of the one piece box.  Look at how complicated it is!  No thank you!  If you are wondering why it is oh-so-colorful, each line denotes a different operation with the laser cutter.  Red lines are full cut, blue is a deep etch, and black is a light etch.

You try nesting multiple ones of these on a 45 degree angle

Revelation No. 2: Cardboard is Corrugated

Why is this important? Especially since it is so obvious?  Well the interesting thing about cardboard’s corrugations (and really all corrugations out there) is that if you don’t utilize them correctly your material can become very very weak.  If we assume the corrugations of the cardboard in the image above are running one direction, then all the lines running left to right will be cut parallel to the corrugations (weak) while the line running up and down will result in perpendicular cuts (strong).  Basically to sum that up, the cardboard is only strong in one direction, not both, like it needs to be.  Also I said corrugations a lot.


Revelation No. 3: How to Deal with the Problem Caused by Revelation No. 2

I know you’re very worked up about this issue with cardboard only possessing strength in one direction, it’s ok, I was too.  But the cool thing is I figured out how to solve the issue; so please stop stressing out about it.  The solution is to rotate either the cardboard or the box at a 45 degree angle.  (Make sure you rotate one OR the other.  Not both.  If you do that than you’re back to Revelation No. 2.)  I rotated the box profile at a 45 since this resulted in less waste then rotating the cardboard.  This produced a box that was strong enough to stand up to the rigors of being shipped by the United States Post Office AND only slightly less scary, my fist.  But seriously, there is no greater stress test than USPS.

Don't worry; this is only box number 7. There's like 5 more revisions to go till the final one.

Revelation No. 4: Three Piece Suit

The two piece box above will undergo several more revisions until it reaches its final design.  I won’t post pictures of every minor revision like an overzealous grandparent.  But, what I will do is talk about the insert that holds the wallet.  Trying to stay true to the original design intention of “one piecing it” made the insert more challenging, but ultimately lead to more satisfaction as well.  Before I can explain what I did we should talk about how I have been folding the cardboard.  Not only does it govern what you’re able to do with the cardboard but it also is pretty cool.  And if you’ve read this far, I can only assume you like cool things.

Revelation No. 5: To Fold or Not to Fold

First a brief overview of the two folds I’ve been using, and then a few pictures to try to clear up the confusion I’ll have caused by the description.  The basic 90-180 degree fold can be made by scoring the cardboard on one side and then folding it to the desired angle.  This is essential; it is the hammer in your toolkit.  Unfortunately since I am only laser cutting on one face of the cardboard this means that a few of these folds together will result in the cardboard wrapping back on itself.  One solution is to etch one side, flip the cardboard over, and etch the other.  Or you can figure out a different way to do the same thing on only one side.  That’s what I did.  The secret is to engrave two parallel lines the thickness of your material apart and then to remove the material in between.  Doing this allows the cardboard to fold the opposite way of the traditional scored fold.  Just look at the pictures, you’ll get it.

Scored and then folded 90 degrees on the red line
Width of the Cardboard Removed (Red Line) and then Folded in Reverse

Revelation No. 6: That’s a Wrap

Using the two pictured folds I was able to fashion an insert that has a slot for the wallet to rest in AND the front pull tab.  A few more revisions and the final design was achieved (for now) of both the box and the pull out insert.  However, I distinctly remember making a statement about LASER CUTTING earlier.  Since I am a man of my word I feel that it is only fair if I post a few images of the cardboard being cutA SWEET VIDEO!

(if the link doesn’t work, you can check it out on YouTube Be sure to click on the HD!)


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