Hot Pop Factory Maker Festival Pecha Kucha

Summer is in full swing and it’s a great time to get inspired and start that project you’ve been putting off all year. What better way to reinvigorate your creativity than attending Maker Festival!

The free event kicks off on July 25th with a week long series of satellite events across the city. On July 28th, our co-founder Biying Miao will be speaking about “what it takes to make” at the 33rd volume of Pecha Kucha Toronto, the Maker Fest Edition. It’s always a great time, get your advance tickets before they’re gone!

The week of maker events culminates with the main extravaganza on August 1st at the Toronto Reference Library. We will be exhibiting large and small scale laser cut and engraved projects made at Hot Pop Factory as well as a 3D puzzle making station. Works will include both our designs and client showcases.

We will also be conducting a contest to win 3 “Make Your Idea” prizes to use $50 of Hot Pop 3D printing and laser services. The free event is anticipating 10,000 attendees, come by and say hi!

Laser Cut Art Color Printed Close Up

All of our work comes from an obsession with the mixing of digital tools and physical products. We’re excited by how personalized data gets updated by the second, and how creativity can be explored within virtual reality and materialized through 3D printing. In comparison however, we find the form our physical world still trailing decades behind the digital, remaining relatively static and unchanged.

This is why our latest experiment Blush Wale was invented – to explore new ways of generating physical forms that evoke the insane dynamism of our digital lives. And so begins the making-of story that  embraces both digital to analog. The piece is the first of a series of experiments that involve digitally designed objects that is then assembled by hand, aimed to create a meaningful connection between the user and the physical product.

Laser Cut Sculpture Art Full

“the making-of story behind the creation of an otherworldly sculpture that behaves like a futuristic multi-dimensional chameleon”

Laser Cut Sculpture Art in Water

Photo by: Gabriel Li

How we achieved the distinctive look in 48 hours:

1. Custom-built software that generated the amorphous 3D form and precisely divided the volume into equally spaced 2D sections. 76 unique profiles were computationally generated and cut from ordinary sheets of plywood at the Hot Pop Factory laser cutting Toronto shop in 5 hours.

Laser Cut Sculpture Art Wireframe Rendering

Laser Cut Sculpture Art Drawings

“76 unique profiles were computationally generated and cut from ordinary sheets of plywood at the Hot Pop Factory laser cutting Toronto shop in 5 hours”


Laser Cutter Cutting Wood

2. 52 unique shades of color extrapolated from 2 eye-popping gradients were precisely mapped onto the surfaces of each section, and then transferred onto 42 sheets raw plywood via UV-cured digital printing.

Laser Cut Plywood Kit of Parts

3. The rainbow-spliced waffle structure was constructed in 3 hours by slotting all the pieces together as a kit of parts. When displayed, the vibrant bi-directional surfaces slowly shifts its hue in a precise gradient as the viewer walks around it – from crimson red to sky blue, citrus yellow to ivy green.

Laser Cut Sculpture Art Color Printed Close Up Green

Laser Cut Sculpture Art Color Printed Close Up Blue

“simultaneously real and virtual, solid and void, static and changeable”


Laser Cut Sculpture Art on Dock 01
Photo by: Gabriel Li

We were really happy with the results, the final piece inhabited both the 2D and 3D world as this multi-dimensional object from the future, possessing qualities that made it appear simultaneously real and virtual, solid and void, static and changeable. Our next step is to design functional housewares and furniture using the same process.

Laser Cut Sculpture Art on Table

Blush Wale was exhibited at MADE Design, Makerfaire Toronto, and on June 11, it will be making an appearance at 3DXL – a large-scale 3D printing experience.

– Biying



Leather and wood are two of our favorite materials to work with. There’s something both luxurious and comforting about them which makes them an amazing medium to experiment with.  One of our amazing clients, Mark Simmons, uses these materials in his collection of artisanal goods called Lumbürr & Co. He combined laser cutting and engraving to create branded labels, straps, handles and smaller trinkets in this product line. 




Images Credit: © Mark Simmons

Got an idea? Tell us about it!

VAWK Laser Cut Leather Belt


We love working with fashion designers and laser cut textiles. The results are always stunning and begging the question, how  was that made?! Well, with the power of laser cutting, intricate patterns that can not be cut by hand becomes a piece of cake! Sharp corners, delicate curves and fine details are no more difficult to achieve on a laser than cutting boring old squares. This gorgeous belt by VAWK was designed by Sunny Fung for the Shangri-la Hotel in Toronto.

VAWK Laser Cut Belt




Got an idea? Tell us about it!


It’s just around the corner! INLAND’s Canadian fashion marketplace is kicking off at 99 Sudbury this weekend in Toronto – and we are thrilled to be a part of it!

Only a few short months ago we met with Founder and Creative Director Sarah Power (aptly named!) to talk about what cool ways Hot Pop Factory could bolster INLAND’s Indiegogo campaign and support Canadian-made and -designed fashion, and boy did we come up with some fun ideas like the laser cut, wooden desk art above.


However, our favourite piece of Hot Pop-designed swag was the 3D-printed bow ties. Exclusive to the Indiegogo launch, they captured the imagination of just about everyone we knew and were a hit with every fashion-conscious person we met.


These bow ties are no longer available, but the spirit of fashion is a live and well this weekend at INLAND. Come hang out at 99 Sudbury, support local designers, and say hi!

 Check out INLAND’s great event website here.

First day at Hack'n'Talk

We spent our Canada Day long weekend with some amazing teams of fast-thinking, innovative entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, and developers at the Hack’n’Talk at FashionZone, Ryerson University’s incubator for fashion-focused companies and entrepreneurs.

It wasn’t a surprise to see our friends at HackerNest there – having organized countless hackathons all around the world, they are the gurus of geek. But instead of doing a more rigid style of hackathon, Hack’n’Talk used the problem-solving format of a hackathon and combined it with fun, hands-on workshops and inspirational talks. It was like a bootcamp for innovation. And we were one of the fearless generals leading the charge.

3D printed design

Wearable tech is a big topic, but the “talk” part of the Hack’n’Talk helped break it down for the participants. Biying gave a talk about some of our creative projects, and we were lucky enough to be presenting with the inestimable Tom Emrich from We Are Wearables, among other talented folks.

But then it was time for the hackers to get their hands dirty. There were workshops built around coding (with Ray Kao of People & Code), product design (with the lovely Anna Zissou of Cynefin), and prototyping that gave the attendees new skills to work with. Cue Hot Pop. We can’t get enough of prototypes!


We love working with creative visionaries to make their ideas reality, and at Hack’n’Talk we had the chance to teach an intensive version of our 3D printing workshops, educating the participants on the freedoms and constraints of working within 3D modelling programs and showing them the endless creative applications of laser cutting.

Laser cut wood

Our students took this knowledge to heart and created some amazing prototypes for their projects. Trial and error at the 3D printers and creative laser cutting in downtown Toronto at our Queen and Spadina studio made them focus their ingenuity and resulted in some great final products.

3D printed bracelet prototype

We had a blast working with these creative adventurers, and if you have the chance, definitely keep an eye on these cool, young companies. We’re sure you’ll see more of them!

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3D printing is our thing, but as makers, we have an insatiable love for textiles as well. Whenever I look closely at the layers of polymer that make up a 3D print, I am reminded of how it is built up of repeating threads just like a textile. Both processes are forms of additive manufacturing with one looking back and another looking forward in the history of manufacturing. As 3D printing becomes more and more mature as a technology, it seems as though the tradition has come full circle.

In our latest collaboration, Hybridized Cloth, with textile artist Ozana Gherman, the goal was to see what would happen if we dove into the history of manufacturing to pluck out some of the most traditional textile making techniques to concoct a mashup with the highly digital fabrication method of 3D printing. So, we set out to experiment with various forms and techniques native to each manufacturing method, attempting to marry the soft intricacy of traditional weaving with the computerized beauty of digital fabrication.
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Our process began in digital realm where we usually start a 3D printing project. But unique to the multi-medium approach of integrating textiles, we decided to create something that would be intimate to the human form. To do this, we tested and refined a series of shapes that would respond to a 3D body scan. By going back and forth between 3D models and physical prototypes, we developed a pair of triangulating structures that nestled comfortably on the shoulder.



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These structures were generated with specialized software and materialized with a 3D printer. They were produced as a kit of parts consisting of nodes and connectors, each indexed for easy assembly. Each connecting member was marked with regularly spaced notches in the digital file in anticipation of the weaving process that would follow. The entire piece came together via pin and hole connections, transforming our digital drawings into articulated three-dimensional forms.


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At this point, the digital manufacturing process was complete. We then transitioned to a completely hand-crafted process where the finished triangulating structures became the frame on which we wrapped a thick black warp for weaving. The notches that were designed into the members made it very easy to guide each thread of yarn around the structure. We started the weave by filling in the internal cells of the armature with panels of varying porosity, then moved outwards and began working on an entire garment.


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We explored several indigenous weaving techniques and a myriad of embroidery stitches to create our contemporary version of the huipil, a traditional Guatemalan garb. We chose the huipil for its simplicity and historical roots to contrast the modern fabrication methods used in the piece. We also employed the associated hand-crafting techniques in the creation of the textile. This included back-strap weaving, the colloquial use of a portable back-strap loom, which was secured around the weaver’s waist and attached to a structural element such as a tree or post to create necessary tension. Ozana did this by securing the weave on her studio door!






From start to finish, the making of this piece involved going back and forth in the history of manufacturing. Interestingly enough, the traditional techniques were augmented by the digital ones through computerized manufacturing. By working digitally, we were able to create a three-dimensional framework on which to weave rather than creating a series of 2D patterns to stitch together. The result is a hybrid way of producing 3D textiles that draws from traditional manufacturing while integrating it with budding digital processes. This piece is a part of a larger study on the ritual of making, more developments will follow as we continue to experiment and play with our favorite tools and materials.


Hybridized Cloth will be on display until March 15, 2014 at Craft Ontario as a part of the Hand and Machine show and Toronto Design Offsite Festival. We are running a special 3D Printing meets Craft workshop in the Craft Ontario gallery on March 9th where attendees will be designing and making 3D printed beads for a DIY leather wristlet. Sign up now before tickets are gone!


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Get a peak at all the beautiful pieces at the Hand & Machine show in this highlight reel.


RELATED POSTS |  Eamespunk – Remixing a Classic

Art Installation ROM Canada Toronto


We have been fascinated with the plight of the bees for the last couple of years. A few months ago, when we got the chance to build an installation that tells their story, we jumped at the opportunity.

As the fabricators for the People’s Hive, we approached the project as a system of prefabricated parts (kind of like IKEA furniture) that are digitally manufactured with a laser cutter and CNC router. Here’s how the installation came together.


Peoples Hive Royal Ontario Museum


First, there was inspiration

Earlier this spring, an architect, Janna Levitt, and an artist, Myfanwy Macleod, travelled to Japan to learn about the fine art of beekeeping and how the decline of the bee population has tremendous consequences for our own existence on earth. Two weeks later, the two returned to Canada with an idea.

The intent was to communicate the bottom-up mentality of a hive community to inspire awareness and action surrounding the issue of colony collapse disorder. If the hive mentality can motivate thousands of bees to form an organized network working for a common goal, perhaps it is also a model humans can emulate to solve the problem at hand. A few weeks later, this question evolved to become an art installation, known as the People’s Hive, that would be a part of the Carbon 14 Climate is Culture exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum.


Fleshing out the idea

Matt and I came into the story around the point where the idea of  People’s Hive required transformation into a real-life physical artifact. We worked together with Janna and Myfanwy and drew upon several architectural archetypes – the shed, bunker, and kiosk, as a starting point to bring physical form to the idea of the hive. The final design of the structure was to be covered in a luxurious honey comb pattern and surrounded by 4 child-size beekeepers, designed to manipulate the viewer’s perception and play with the their sense of human scale.


Hot Pop Factory Art Installation Drawing

Hot Pop Factory Art Installation ROM Toronto

Photos above © Ben Rahn/A-Frame


Building the system

In alignment with the bottom-up mentality of the hive, the design and fabrication of the Hive structure started with the smallest element in the piece – the hexagonal panel that make up the honeycomb cladding. Lasercut from 1/8″ acrylic in the perfect shade of yellow, the size of each panel was determined by optimizing the number of tiles that can be cut from a standard sheet of 4’ x 8’ material. These panels, when tiled, became a grid that governed the exact size and shape of the overall structure.


Hot Pop Factory Fabrication Toronto

Hot Pop Factory Laser Cutting Toronto

The plywood shell that the honeycomb panels are fastened to was precision cut on a computer controlled milling machine. We then built the stud framing to fit inside that shell. This process may seem a bit backwards, but it allowed for the most accuracy so that the prefabricated panels can tile perfectly on each face of the structure.


Every component of the Hive was designed and built to assemble with bolts and connectors on site. We put in the effort to design each component so that it can easily be transported, installed and disassembled for future exhibitions. The hard work completely paid off! Check out this time lapse of the installation process.


Hot Pop Factory Art Fabrication Toronto

The project was a fantastic success and will be on display at the ROM until February 2014.


RELATED POSTS | Eamespunk – Remixing a Classic | Behind the Scenes: People’s Hive

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We had such a blast at this year’s Toronto Mini Maker Faire! For this special weekend event, we revisited one of our favorite childhood activities, finger painting, and updated it to our digital age with a Leap Motion, some 3D printers (of course) and a little bit of home-made code. The result, is the 3D Printer Finger Painting booth!

Over the course of two days, we watched the bewildered faces of hundreds of kids, parents, grandparents and friends as they waved their fingers over the Leap Motion micro sensor, and saw their doodles instantly appear on a digital monitor. The best part of all, is seeing those doodles come to life in 3-dimensions on our 3D printers as funky, abstract sculptures. Read on for a review of our Leap Motion experience.



We are passionate about finding the creative applications of 3D printing. We’re enamored by how 3D printing can empower people from all walks of life to shape the world around them and the products they own. Right now the tools used to create content for 3D printers are often rather archaic and unintuitive for those who are not already experienced 3D designers. The projects that are exciting us most at the moment involve finding new means of interacting with these machines that break down these barriers.

We knew that Makerfaire would be a busy place with many kids in attendance. Our mission was to create a fun and easy way for people to generate their own 3D content in just a few seconds without any training. Since 3D printing is a new technology we find its very helpful to get people comfortable with it by tying it to a familiar metaphor like Finger Painting or Kissing Booths. This allows people to approach 3D printing on familiar terms without being overwhelmed by the technology itself.

We used the Leap Motion, Makerbot Replicator 3D Printers and a couple of regular old desktop computers. We tied them all together by writing our own software in Processing. The program we wrote allows people to generate colorful 3D models on the screen using their fingers and the Leap Motion. We then exported these models to the 3D printers using standard file formats so that they could be reconstructed in real-life.

The response at Maker Faire was fantastic! It drew crowds throughout the weekend. I think the most rewarding part was seeing how many people were able to use it without any instruction – especially kids. Our favorite finger painter was a little boy who was convinced that clapping his hands and spreading his little fingers out like a fan resulted in explosion of cubes on the doodle screen. It was really the speed of his motion that the program responded to, but he was having so much fun creating with his big clapping gestures, all we could do was sit back and smile. We loved seeing how different people approached the sensor and learned to self-navigate our program on their own terms, bringing their own personality.

What’s nice about the Leap is that casually interacting with the computer becomes a very low cost investment of time and attention for a passer-by at a busy venue like Maker Faire. People don’t have to waste time fumbling around with a keyboard and mouse – this is a big part of why we chose it for this event. For 3D printing in particular the Leap is especially interesting, because unlike a mouse, which moves around on a 2D plane, the Leap is specifically equipped to interpret 3D input. This helps alleviate one of the major pain points in getting new users to create 3D content, which is navigating 3D space on a 2D screen with a 2D input device.


3D Printed Leap Motion

3D Printed Heart Leap Motion

3D Printing Finger Painting Leap Motion

Hot Pop Factory Maker Faire Leap Motion



We’ve been busy BEES… busy working on an exciting new project that will be installed as apart of Carbon 14, an exhibition exploring the scientific and cultural aspects of climate change, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto! People’s Hive is a dream collaboration with Myfanwy Macleod and Janna Levitt. It has been months in the making and we cannot wait for everything to come together. Here’s a little sneak peak of the working progress.







Today, we finally loaded up the van and moved all the parts into the museum. Our little honey comb project sleeps in a gallery corner tonight, install starts tomorrow! Stay tuned for the big reveal!