Picture of Metal Flipbook: Story & Assembly

Metal flipbook? Yes! Metal flipbook. It's loud, heavy, and big. Using aluminum panels and a hand crank, this is a human-powered flip book that weighs over 50 pounds.

This instructable will show how to make a giant mechanical metal flipbook. The second half (about mechanics and assembly) can be found here (part 2 link soon to come).

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Step 1: Prepping drawings for etching

Picture of Prepping drawings for etching

Plate Materials

- Anodized aluminum. I used .04" in matte black. You can choose from a wide range of colors and thicknesses.

- Laser cutter. I experimented using both Metabeam & Epilogue. Ultimately Epilogue was much much faster and allowed for more variation with less adjustments.


I made all the original drawings by hand, scanning them in and formatting/cleaning them up. Whales, whales, whales. If more comfortable, files can be prepared entirely on the computer in programs such as coreldraw, illustrator, or photoshop.

What you draw and how you draw is totally depends on the end result you're going for.

- Delicate thin lines: use vector line work. These images are pretty hard to see sometimes, so keep in mind when drawing airy drawings that the lines are light on black, and not black on light. The clarity from a distance isn't as good, and therefore visibility decreases.

In Coreldraw: Import drawing and do a centerline trace. If you do an outline trace, your etch will take twice as long and might look busy and messy.

In Photoshop/Illustrator: use the trace function. You can adjust the line thickness.

- Shading: raster image. You can try hatching, cross hatching, stippling, or shading within the program. Each of these will look different both in style and etching results.

I used shades of gray to test out raster effects. The darker the gray, the lighter the etched area.

Kiteman4 months ago

This has got to be hellish noisy!

domenic36 months ago


Fikjast Scott7 months ago

This is fantastic. great job.

Verticees7 months ago

This is awesome! A video or a GIF would be great!

dackermans847 months ago
i love to see it in action! post a video where possible! And also, the idea is very nice.

You should post a video!