Introduction: Laser Cut Planters
some months ago i discovered that my university has a laser cutter standing around and so i took a course to be able to use it and ever since them i am a happy cutter....
it took some time to get used to the thing and to channel all the ideas that i had into actual projects, but the process was totally worth ist.
one of these many ideas were these planters: by making colorful and differently shaped stands for them, you can turn those boring, plain clay flower pots into beautiful objects of art. these are perfect for an eyecatching arrangement of little plants. and not only do they look good, but if you design them with different heights you can also make sure that every plant gets it's share of sunlight when they are huddled together.
i really love them - i hope you'll like them, too.
Step 1: Things You Need
- acrylic, 3 mm thick, size depending on your planter design and the size of the flower pots
for the smaller pots i used a format of 12 cm x 25 cm and for the bigger one a format of 12,5 cm x 40 cm
you could also use other materials, thin plywood for example
- flower pots
- plants and potting soil
- a laser cutter or access to one
- illustrator or similar programm
- measuring tape and ruler or other tools to measure lenghts and circumferences
- paper (optional)
Step 2: Measure the Pots
sorry i forgot to take pictures of the measuring and then later there were already flowers in the pots and made it difficult to measure...
but i think you will get the idea from the drawings. it could be that your pot looks slightly different, but basically you have to measure all the different diameters that occur somewhere on your pot.
in my case 4 diameters:
- the diameter of the top and the bottom,
- the lower diameter of the rim
- and the diameter just under the rim after the curved part that connects the rim with the rest of the pot.
depending on what kind of measuring tool you have at your disposal, it can be that it is easier to measure the circumference in some spot than the diameter. (if you are using a measuring tape like me). from the circumference you can easily calculate the diameter by divinding it by π.
apart from the diameter you have to measure the total height of the pot as well as any heights (either from the top or the bottom of the pot) were you took the additional circumference measurements). with three circumferences you will have to measure 3 heights.
it is important that you measure ALL the heights not along the side of the pot but in a manner indicated in the second picture. i don't really know how to explain that with words, sorry.
it is important that these measurements are as correct as possible. if you get them wrong, the laser cut planter elements won't fit well later, they could be to loose or not wide enough.
Step 3: Make the Design With Illustrator
before you make the illustrator design think about which height the finished planter should have.
this is how i designed the planters with illustrator:
start by creating a rectangle, a bit wider than diameter 1 (how much wider is your design choice) and with the desired height of the finished planter.
in a new layer, add guides that (from the top of the rectangle) mark the different heights you measured in the previous step. lock that layer.
in another layer, add lines ontop of the guides that have the lenghts of the different measured diameters (1 - 4), and with the help of smart guides position them symetrically in the middle. lock that layer, too.
now add another layer and, using the end points of these lines as guides make the silhouette of your pot. merge that with your rectangle from that first step. (have a look at my designs to see how it should look). you can now delete the layers with the guides and the lines.
design the lower part according to your wishes. duplicate the design, because every planter consists of two parts that are (almost) identical.
to be able to assemble the 2 parts needed for one planter later, include a slit in each of the parts. it has to be exactly as wide as the used acrylic is thick (3 mm in my case). in one part, it has to reach from the bottom of the design to exactly the middle between the bottom of the design and the bottom of the cut out put, in the other part is has to reach from above to the middle (look at the pictures and you'll see what i mean).
every laser cutter works differently, so find out the necessary properties your document should have and adjust accordingy. for example the trotec laser i used needs and rgb file with specific colors indicating if the laser cuts, in which order or if it engraves. all the lines have to have a specified width and the whole document has to be saved as an illustrator pdf. save the file.
if you would want to make sure that you measured correctly, you could print your design on paper, cut it out and have a look if it fits the flower pots, so if it doesn't you can change it before cutting it out.
Step 4: Cut!
place the material in your laser cutter, load the file onto the connected computer. choose the right settings and cut away.
if you are using a certain material for the first time with the laser cutter it's best to do a little test cut first to see which settings are the best match for that material.i
when the cutting is done clean the acrylic of any residue from the cutting process. this is best done with window cleaner and tissues.
i've included the files that i used, feel free to use them. i really don't know if the flower pots in shops are somewhat standardized and they will work with the pot available to you, but you cut have a try.
if you don't have access to a laser cutter you could think about making the planters out of wood or another sawable material and cut the design out with a saw, or a cnc cutter or something similar.
Step 5: Assemble!
once all the parts are cut and cleaned you can assemble the planters, if you did everything right the two parts of each planter should smoothly fit into each other. now you can also test if you did all the measuring correctly and the flower pots fit inside your planters.
Step 6: Pot or Repot the Plants
since the ceramic pots have a little hole in the bottom, i put a layer of plastic sheating inside before repotting the plants. to avoid water collecting in the bottom of the pots which can cause rotting roots it's best to put some little pebbles inside the pot before adding the soil.
Step 7: Enjoy Your New Planters!
i really love how the planters turned out and how the light shines through them creating nice color pattern wherever you place them.
they would make great inexpensive gifts as well and i guess you could easily expand the concept to other containers or vases.
i hope you enjoyed this instructable and i could give you some inspiration and i would really love to see your versions of these planters, since the design possibilities are practically endless!