The U-Box is an open source and modifiable laser cut box that can be assembled with no fasteners and no adhesives by utilizing a universal snap fit that is independent of variable material thickness and laser kerf. Because of the universal snap fit, the box can be cut on any laser cutter anywhere in the world. The box has 4 different versions, and was designed for both transparency and portability. Please see the intro video for more information.

About

Note: The following instructions were written for 0.175” – 0.2” (4.44mm-5.02mm) plywood; however, an updated U-Box Mini designed for 0.12” (3mm) plywood is also included- this is the newest prototype.

 

The Ubox has 4 different versions:

Mini

Biggie

Biggie 4

Biggie 6

 

Materials

  • The actual (not nominal) material thickness should be between 0.175” – 0.2” (4.44mm-5.02mm) or 0.12" (3 mm), depending on which file you use. Any material should work.
  • At the TLTL we use plywood; however, finding the right plywood can be very tricky.

Plywood Info

The plywood you need is 5.2mm Chinese birch with a poplar core. I have also heard good things about Baltic Birch. You can also experiment with other plys, but they have to be interior grade. The moisture resistant glues in exterior don't like the laser so there is much more charring.

MDF should be avoided because it takes the laser a lot more to get through it, but it can be used. If you are using a filter, I would avoid MDF as it can clog it up quick.

If you call around and ask for 5.2 mm they will say they don't have it. It's because American lumber stores would call it quarter inch. Quarter inch import is really 5.2 mm, and 5.2 mm is actually anywhere between 0.17"-0.2".

If you need help getting wood and live in the Bay Area, contact me at brogan@alumni.stanford.edu and I will personally help you.

Machine settings

  • Power, speed, and frequency settings for your machine will vary from any other machines. Do some quick test cuts to find a setting that just gets through the material with limited charring / burning. Use a low frequency (150-200 Hz) for wood-like material and high (5000 Hz) for plastics like Acrylic. Do not cut PVC, and as a rule of thumb always research the safety of the material you want to cut.
  • Engraving is set at an RGB of 0:0:255.

Instructions

  1. Download the files here: U-Box Cutting Layouts.
  2. You will first need to cut out the file "Thickness_Test" to see what files to choose. I have files made for both 0.175" and 0.195". The reason for the difference is that the tighter the fit, the better the compliance.
  3. Use the appropriate thickness. The files that read "optimized" have been designed for maximum space efficiency. The files that read "unorganized" are free floating so it will be easier for you to fit to your own laser cutter. Likewise, engraving is set at an RGB of 0:0:255.
  4. Cut it out!
  5. Once you have your pieces, watch the appropriate assembly video below.

Assembly

U-Box Mini Assembly

U-Box Biggie Assembly