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Wave Laptop Stand (Making 3D Shapes in Illustrator)

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I wanted a nicer laptop stand. I wanted to to make something with a beautiful, organic form. And I work at Instructables, so I have access to an awesome Epilog laser cutter.

The shape that you see in the images below is the result. I'm pretty happy with it; it's really pleasing to the eye, and is a very stable platform for my Macbook (though it should work for most laptops 12" or wider.)

The third picture on this step is my old laptop stand, which will give you an idea of why I wanted to make a nicer one (yes, it's a piece of plywood on four coffee tins.) The new stand has a number of benefits. It:

  • Raises the screen up higher, closer to an ideal height for my eyes (and putting the webcam at a more natural angle.)
  • Tilts the body down, for easier touchpad and keyboard use, for the occasional times when I type on the laptop in its stand.
  • Makes the desk feel less cluttered.
  • Mirrors the form of my ergonomic keyboard.

This instructable has details on how this particular laptop stand was designed and constructed, but I've also included some useful information on how to design a 3D, slot-fit object in general. My approach was slow, since I opted to use a 2D vector drawing tool to design the whole thing. I'm very interested to see if any readers know how something like this might be created in a 3D CAD program.
 
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Step 1: Brainstorming and Initial Design

I had a vague idea of what I wanted. Waves, maybe; the intersection of two waves travelling perpendicularly. The result might be a saddle shape of some sort.

The first step was to break out a pencil and start sketching. I played with a couple of ideas before settling on the one at the bottom of the page. The basic idea was a distorted plane, with three points touching the desk surface and three points hitting the bottom of the laptop. The side view (on the right) shows how the whole thing should be squeezed to angle the laptop.
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dk2k made it!6 months ago

Hi guys
I've cut recently this stand using a blueprint from internet:

http://vbp.maxnet.ru/laser1/#wavestand (traffic!)
+ 2 photos below


It required additional processing since I saw traces of combustion. I've sandpapered the details, covered with woodstain and varnished.

IMG_0804_1000.jpgIMG_0805_1000.jpgIMG_0806_1000.jpg
nagutron (author)  dk2k6 months ago

Love seeing this, dk2k. Love all those other projects on that site you got it from, too. I didn't see them posting copies of my blueprints, though. Did you find them on that site, or derive them from the vectors on this instructable?

dk2k nagutron6 months ago
Hi nagutron,
I recall that it was some .eps, can't say the origin for sure. The site vbp.maxnet.ru is mine and all the laser and diy stuff as well. I transformed the EPS into DWG. It lacked symmetry of the parts, I had to alter the width of the notches in order to use 6 mm plywood and increased the height of the supports.

There is one more benefit: air intake of the laptop isn't closed off
as promised here's mine made from 4mm MDF.
image.jpg
nagutron (author)  Mindmapper16 months ago

Looks amazing, Mindmapper1! Glad to see it working in a different material. Definitely let us know if acrylic works out.

pposada1 year ago
You can check this free software from autodesk ( http://www.123dapp.com/make ) you can easily construct 3d models with 2d pieces, there are various tutorials and i´m not so sure but i think people can share their models.

This other software is specialized in chairs made up of 2d pieces, there is an open library of designs and a dummie for making ergonomic and structure tests. ( http://sketchchair.cc/ ).

I hope you find them helpful for your future projects!
This is excellent made it out of 4mm MDF and it is very stable, strong and does not flex at all. Next plan to be made of acrylic sheet. thanks for an excellent instructable.
nagutron (author)  Mindmapper11 year ago
That is *great*. I'd love to see photos -- post some! MDF is a great idea. I can imagine the slots being much more consistent than with the plywood I used.
mganpate2 years ago
great idea..........
Did Pokono's node manual get deleted? I'm curious if / how you can make nodes with a laser?
nagutron (author)  Chasingthesun732 years ago
There's a link to it here: http://blog.ponoko.com/2008/11/03/how-to-create-better-nodes/
MRedu2 years ago
Very very nice. This would even look nice as an ornament in the living room!
sethhepler4 years ago
 i joined this website just for this one comment:

Sorry to say this, but i am in disbelief that this is generating as much feedback as it is. check out the work over at www.grasshopper3d.com
this kind of stand can be made by any architecture student in there sleep if they are familiar with rhino and grasshopper. not faulting you, but you have crossed into a realm of parametric modelling where this would not be taken seriously seeing as how it was created with anything adobe. In a scripting sense this form would be extremely basic to create. I think you should invest a couple hours into learning grasshopper (free plugin) for rhino (not free, just crack). You can change density of the grid, extrusion distances, attractions, and material thickness with simple sliders.
 you can see examples where students and practicing architects have built there stuff out of grasshopper. i have written a definition where the ribs generated by the surface automatically notch themselves, flatten out into line drawings, number themselves (for large installations), and line up ready to be exported. extremely practical.
nagutron (author)  sethhepler4 years ago
Hey, thanks for the link. Yeah, I would definitely have preferred to have designed this in 3d, but like you say it was a simple shape so I used the tools I knew.

Grasshopper looks pretty easy to use. I code, though, so I'll probably script in Rhino directly when I decide to pick it up. Thanks for the suggestion.

Of course, if you model this or something like it, we'd all welcome some screenshots here or a whole instructable of your own!
Nice work! I also spend much time for my design in the SVG app Inkscape. There is a (fresh) free Java application doing exactly your type of work in minutes : http://gregsaul.co.nz/SketchChair/
Just an update, but SketchChair is still not yet available.

It has been fully funded via Kickstarter since May '11, but the software has yet to be released.

I'm really looking forward to it when they do, though, because it looks slick!
You have to keep in mind, that the people that come to this site are the average person on the street. Not groups of students from some tech school, And if someone takes the time to learn how to do something like this in their spare time, With practically no help, Then they are to be congratulated, Because true invention, Is creating an idea that you yourself didn't know yesterday, Even if it's only a wheel.

Aside from that, I do love high tech designs.

I was wondering if it's possible to create a stand that actually conforms to the shape of a human lap, Or even if one can be made that can be used wether your sitting indian style, Or with your legs straight out. Just a thought, cause thats why my laptop sits on my desk all the time.

But I love the design, Because of the overall amount of airflow promoted in this project.
I'm a Industrial designer, and i do come here a lot, because I am usually amazed with how people get around to do things by themselves. Sometimes, it's true, you think "man, look how much work this took, and you could have done it in a much easier way by doing this and that" but i still come because many times I find very simple and direct ways to do things, that my degree didn't teach me.
But the fact is they haven't, and he did.
80$man3 years ago
B E A U T I F U L

Very nice! I would have to build one!
flyingpuppy3 years ago
Could this be done with a sheet of plastic thin enough to use a scissors or box cutter on? You know, like the pendant lamps on this site that use plastic pieces? What I mean is, if you don't have a lazer cutter, could this still be done at home?
nagutron (author)  flyingpuppy3 years ago
I don't think so, unfortunately. The slot joints between the pieces need to be fairly strong, and that comes from the material having some thickness.

Without a laser cutter, you could try foamcore (which will still be quite weak) or using traditional woodworking tools like a scroll saw to cut wood.
80$man nagutron3 years ago
I would recommend using thin plywood (3~5mm) and either a band saw or band saw. Your thoughts nagutron?
Wow, this is really neat, I love how it opens up a whole field of interesting craft possibilities ! I've been working on a slightly different take to the whole 2D to 3D concept with The Playful Geometer's Cosmic SpaceCrafts for years now and I just entered the Epilog challenge with my Quasicrystal Star Lantern.  I would love to be able to build slatted 3D objects like this with a laser cutter...adding some nice etching designs into the wood would make it look even cooler !  I bet it would be possible to create a python script in Blender to output 2D discetions of a 3D object at regular intervals... maybe if I win the contest I'll see if I can throw something together.
jamilks3 years ago
Nagutron, aloha from the Big Island~ What a beautiful thing! Originally, in the intro picture, I thought that the shape was so that it would fit on your lap with the narrow end being near your knees, but I see now that it is a desktop set-up...Seems that with a little bit more contouring, it could conform to the shape of the thighs and provide a stable, ventilated base for a laptop...on your lap...
Thanks for sharing, and how fortunate you are indeed to work at Instructables~ I am envious....heh heh...but maybe when I move to the Bay area I'll apply....
nagutron (author)  jamilks3 years ago
Interesting idea! I hadn't considered that use and can imagine some tweaks to the design that might allow it to work both as a desktop and laptop stand.

In any case, I moved on from Instructables a long time ago, but still remember my years there fondly. And I still use this stand every day :)
nautileaks3 years ago
niceee!!!!
pingaling3 years ago
Very rad indeed!! How do you find it for stability?
leugim4 years ago
I'm an ID student at Buenos Aires (UBA) and this shapes are fairly easy to produce just with rhino -and if you like more control- adding grasshopper. My morphology class teachers are incredibly good at this class and I think the gallery link of our models (we have to actually build the models the end of cuatrimester with our hands) would be usefull for inspirational purposes. http://plm.com.ar/academico/general/indgal.html The more complex shapes are in the advanced "Morfologia Especial 2" course. Have fun!
Sos de Buenos Aires? mira vos, yo soy de La Plata, estoy en ingenieria aeronautica, y necesitaba hacer algo parecido para el ala de un avion, no me explicarias como hacerlo, si se puede con inventor? o con CATIA? si no consigo el Rhino y el grasshoper.
Rhino con T-Splines es lo mejor. Todo lo organico que antes no podias hacer con Rhino lo haces enseguida agregandole T-Splines.

DI Sara (UBA) ;)
gracias por el dato. se puede cortar asi la pieza? es decir para hacer secciones?
Podes hacer el volumen de como queres que quede el ala, y despues tenes una funcion Contour, que te permite generar las curvas como si la cortaras con planos paralelos en el eje que vos le definas con la separacion que vos quieras. A eso despues le dibujas las que apoyan perpendicularmente para armar el armazon.
El T-Splines te permite hacer la forma que vos quieras al ala, el Rhino solo es duro para lo organico.

Sara.
gracias, despues lo voy a probar
nagutron (author)  leugim4 years ago
I got around to looking at the works produced in your course. Inspiring shapes and methodology! Here's a more-direct link for anyone who's interested.

Thanks for this, leugim.
notingkool3 years ago
¿como es el proceso para "cortar" las secciones? es decir ¿como generaste las secciones que forman la figura en 3d? Porque yo quiero dibujar una pieza en 3d y luego extraer las secciones de esa pieza a ciertos intervalos para despues armar un prototipo de laminas de carton, parecido a lo que hiciste vos. la pieza en un ala semi eliptica, a la cual hay que sacarle secciones a 45º del eje, para formar las costillas.
ziga3213 years ago
wow, great design!
wow nice
Whit this idea you could be a millionaire! Or you are that right now?
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