Living hinges are a great way to bend plywood with a laser cutter.
For example this 1.5 mm cut is is very bendy and flexible and can fit around tight radiuses.
But if I move up to 4 mm, I still bend but it is not as flexible as other cut patterns.
That’s why you need to make swatches so you can test out different cut distances on your material.
I’ve included this sample swatch file as a link in the description so you can cut out materials that you’re using for your laser cutter and then we can put these parameters into fusion 360 and design them for our cuts.
Here I’ve made some radiuses in Fusion and then printed them out so I can test the bend radiuses of these different cut patterns.
For example, if I get a 3 mm cut pattern, and Iay it down on the 30 mm radius, it bends all the way 90 degrees, so I could definitely use a 30mm radius in my design.
If I move down to 29 mm, I can still make that bend, so that is a useable radius in my design.
I want to keep moving down, to smaller and smaller radiuses until I sense that the material is being stressed to go around that curve.
That way I can find the minimum bend radius for that material.
If I use the 1.5 cut distance, it bends a lot.
If I start at 12 mm radius, it bends around 12 mm at 90 degrees no problem.
If I go down to 11 mm for the radius, it starts to stress the material a little bit.
We don’t want to stress the material so probably 12mm is the minimum bend radius and if I go down to 10 mm, yes it does curve around but I really sense that the material is being stressed now.
You can use a radius template like this to test out cut patterns on the specific material you’re using.
That way you know a head of time what design parameters you can use so you have more chance of success by cutting out living hinges on your laser cutter.
I put both of these template files in the description so you can cut out your own patterns just like this and test in different materials and thicknesses.
Create your own patterns for lots of laser cutting fun.