Each 3D printing project is unique in it’s own way. Sometimes you want something to be strong, or finely detailed, or with many interconnected parts. For almost every design need there’s a unique material consideration. Here’s a quick introduction to all the interesting materials you can 3d print with at Hot Pop.

ABS & PLA Plastic

Resolution  3/5  Durability  4/5      Cost   3/5


ABS is a really strong thermoplastic. If you think an object might be dropped or handled (such as a phone case or chess piece) then ABS is the best option. PLA is also a thermoplastic and is very similar to ABS in terms of its physical properties.  The main difference is that PLA is a biodegradable plastic that comes from natural resources such as corn starch. The materials are typically printed on a FDM 3D printer which is very good at producing simple geometries at low to medium resolution, perfect for preliminary prototypes to test out an idea. 




Resolution  5/5     Durability  5/5    Cost   4/5


If you’re working on a project with lots of interconnected moving parts use nylon. With nylon you can make functioning hinges and gears right out of the printer. It’s strong while also providing some flexibility if you print thin parts. Details can be as small as 0.7mm, and it’s available in standard colours.


Resolution  5/5    Durability  5/5      Cost   4/5


Alumide is a mix of fine aluminum particles and polyamide power. This strong material is the perfect solution if you want something printed in metallic colours or with moving parts. Similar to sandstone it has a brittle surface that is somewhat porous, and can be used for fine details (minimum 0.7mm).


Full Colour Sandstone

Resolution 4/5   Durability  2/5     Cost   5/5


Sandstone is the only 3d printing process that allows you to make full colour prints so it’s perfect for figurines or small sculptures with lots of colour. You can get a lot of fine details with sandstone (minimum 0.7mm thickness) and it’s quite strong with a slightly brittle texture.




Resolution 5/5   Durability  1/5     Cost   5/5

For Jewelry and finely detailed parts, 3d printed wax is an excellent way of making moulds. It let’s you work on really finely detailed parts on the computer so you can cast structures and engravings that would be otherwise impossible to achieve with manual methods. Similar to other forms of 3d printing, the wax is melted in the printer and then solidifies once printed. If you’re accustomed with lost-wax casting, 3D printing can help save you a step in the process.



If you have any questions about a 3d printing project you have in mind, get in touch!

Images of rings via Elizabete Ludviks

Functional 3D Printed Ceramics

The most exciting part about 3D printing is that we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible. So many designers and researchers are continuously innovating new techniques and materials that can be used for production. Here we take a sneak peak into the future of 3D printing with three breakthrough stories.

1) Woven Ceramics

3D Printed Ceramics

When Olivier van Herpt, an industrial design graduate from the Design Academy of Eindhoven, started experimenting with 3d printing ceramics there weren’t a lot of options available. The printing beds on most desktop 3D printers were too small and food-safe printing was too costly. So the designer went to work and spent two years experimenting and developing his own 3D printer, extruder and process to make ceramics out of hard clay instead of the usual mix of clay and water (which tended to collapse). With these new tools he was able to design a collection of ceramics that are beautifully woven into various patterns. Rather than trying to completely erase the layers of 3D printing, Olivier highlights them with detailed designs. On top of innovating with functional ceramics, the designer has also done experiments with 3D printed beeswax, prints that respond to sound and environmental sensors, a dripping printer and a drawing machine.

3D printed ceramics

2) Replicating Hair

The hair on our bodies serves so many purposes: it acts like a sensor to the outer world, it helps us feel and touch, it helps to keep us warm. Cillia is a project out of the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab that replicated the various functions of hair with 3D printing. With their new method, the team was able to design hair geometry down to micrometers (that’s smaller than a millimeter!), and as a result the researchers were able to make surfaces that could sense and adhere to other surfaces. The coolest part is that compared to the mostly hard surfaces that have been 3d printed so far, this project shows the possibility for giving 3d printing a softer touch.

MIT 3D Printed Hair


3) Forming Metal Out of Thin Air

We were super excited when the 3Doodler came out a few years ago, giving us a way to do free-form prints that stand on their own in an instant. Recently, the Wyss Institute at Harvard University has come up with a similar technique but now with metal and lasers. These metal structures appear to float in the air without any support material and will allow for more flexibility when designing wearable sensors, circuits and other conductive materials.

What kind of ideas are you dreaming up? Check out the standard 3D printed materials we offer and how it can apply to your next project.

Images via: Olivier van Herpt, The Tangible Media Group and The Wyss Institute

laser engraved materials

Design something cool and then get crafty with the materials! Once you’ve drawn up your vector file for laser engraving we have so many options when it comes to what materials you can use. You can engrave on surfaces that are hard, soft, and even foods like ham! Keep reading to learn about the rich palette of materials available at Hot Pop.


Cut ✔️    Engrave ✔️   In stock ✔️   Customer supply ✔️ 


Our most popular material and one of the most affordable and versatile. Plywood cuts quickly with an attractive finish. The edge takes on a golden-brown look, engraving and scoring operations have a similar effect on the surface of the material. We stock Baltic Birch plywood in 1/8″ and 1/4″ thicknesses. We strongly recommend this species as other plywood types contain adhesives which don’t cut as well in terms of speed and cut quality.

Laser engraved wood gives a natural but finished look to anything you are designing. Recently we’ve worked on beautifully engraved illustrations and handwriting, as well as engraved gifts and signage, but the possibilities are endless! 

laser engraved wood


Cut ✔️    Engrave ✔️   In stock✖️   Customer supply ✔️ 


If you’re looking for a more premium finish, or have a slaw of wood you’d like to work with, consider hardwood for engraving. You can supply it in sheet for (less than 3/16″) for cutting and engraving, or you can supply it as an existing product like a gift box, baseball bat or cutting board. To add a bit of local flavour to your project, Hot Pop has also teamed up with Leaf so designers can use urban wood from Toronto. Thousands of Toronto trees die of natural causes each year, and the city saves this material so designers and artists can reuse it in new ways.



Cut ✔️    Engrave ✔️    In stock ✔️   Customer supply ✔️ 



Also known by the tradename Plexiglass, acrylic is another very popular material for laser cutting. This is a rigid plastic material with a premium looking high gloss finish. Acrylic is available in many different colors and finishes which makes it great for applications like signage and displays. Laser cutting is the best way to cut this material as you end up with an extremely high quality ‘flame-polished’ edge inherent to the laser cutting process.

We’ve see it used to make really professional packaging, signage, point of sale displays, jewelry and even ornaments. Engraving on acrylic is a great way to introduce a polished and colourful retail look to your projects.




Cut ✔️     Engrave ✔️    In stock✖️    Customer supply ✔️ 


Great for use in luxury tags and accessories such as bags, wallets, scarves, etc. Laser cutting is a fantastic way to cut intricate designs in leather products, as well as logos and other branding for labels and tags. Leather is such an interesting material to work with because it’s both soft and durable. Because of the material’s softness, laser engraving is the best way to making precise markings without causing damage. 

Thick Card

 Cut ✔️      Engrave ✔️    In stock ✖️    Customer supply ✔️ 


Though most papers can only be laser cut, really thick card can also be engraved. Laser engraving can be a cheaper alternative to embossing for stationary or tags, and is also an excellent way to add finer details or textures to designs such as architectural models, premium wedding invitations, and paper based art work. 




Cut✖️    Engrave ✔️    In stock ✖️   Customer supply ✔️ 

Although we do not offer metal cutting, we can engrave onto most types of metal. Stainless steel and aluminium work especially well. We can also mark on coatings such anodized finishes for a fantastic two-toned look on your product. Laser engraved metal gives a sharp look to professional and corporate gifts. We’ve recently seen it used for bottle-opening business cards. 

laser engraved metal business card


Cut ✖️    Engrave ✔️    In stock ✖️   Customer supply ✔️ 

Designers don’t often realize that glass can be engraved, even if there’s a slight curve to the surface. Engraving glass is an easy way to make elegant signage or to brand and label containers for packaging.


Laserable Rubber

Cut ✔️     Engrave ✔️   In stock ✔️    Customer supply ✔️ 

One of the best kept laser engraving secrets is rubber! Laser engraved rubber is most commonly used to design stamps for branding and crafts. We’ve seen these stamps used to create business cards, put patterns on fabric, and to design wrapping paper. Because rubber is flexible it’s also a great way to test prototypes, and we’ve even seen it used for jewelry prototyping. Rubber can be laser engraved to create custom gaskets and other protective parts.


laser engraved stamp

Natural Stone and Concrete

Cut ✖️    Engrave ✔️    In stock ✖️   Customer supply ✔️

We offer engraving services for stone which renders beautifully, especially if your stone product has a smooth or polished surface. The engraving leaves a rougher textured finish which contrasts beautifully with the surface of most stone products. We’ve seen engraving used to brand construction companies, but also in personal projects such as custom chess boards.


Wild & Wonderful

Cut ✔️     Engrave ✔️    In stock ✖️   Customer supply ✔️

We’re constantly adding more things to the list of what can be laser engraved. The only way to find out what works is to give it a try. We’ve laser engraved lots of unexpected things like bread, fruit and even ham! If you have a new material in mind that you’d like to experiment with get in touch.


So, what will you be laser engraving?

Designer Projects: The Juicepunk, Swaine Street and Daneson

laser cutting toronto

Every year The Stop Night Market fundraiser brings together talent from Toronto’s culinary and design scenes including over 70 chefs, 20 beverage providers and 35 locally designed food carts. As designers who have been involved in cart design and building in previous years, we love how the event brings food and design together in a way that the entire city can enjoy. So much creativity and hard work goes into the delicious food and innovative designs. Here are some of our top tips for making stunning displays that will stand out in the crowd and last all season long. 

Go 3 Dimensional

With rapid prototyping tools, designers can really get creative with 3D form. The two food carts above by Dialogue 38 and Ingrain are excellent examples of using depth and volume to add character to a display. It not just a table or a food cart, it’s a whale to present sea food or a topographical landscape to focus on a geographical place.

stop-night-market-final-3Carts by Chanel Dehond, Encounters of the Human Kind and Outsider Spatial

Get Graphic

Planning for a pop of colour or a head-turning pattern are both great ways of making your display stand out. If you have a precise pattern or like to plan out your designs digitally, direct to board colour printing might be a good way to go. Try digitally printing  CMYK colours directly onto the materials like wood and acrylic, and then laser cutting design components or branded elements ready to install. It’s the perfect way to give your display a polished and festive look.

stop-night-market-final-2Carts by MarkUp and TANK

Think setup and teardown

Items that flatten, slats that slide, and hinges that fold will all make for an easy setup and teardown. The displays each year always turn out so beautiful, so making sure they can be used again is really worth the effort.

laser cut display car

We’re so excited to see what everyone will come up with for this year’s Night Market!

Since everyone involved is donating their time and resources to the cause, we would like to do our part to support the talented individuals who are likely paying for their projects out of pocket. All participating teams can get 10% off laser cutting, laser engraving and 3d printing to help them make really awesome displays. Ready to get started?

laser engraving toronto


Images via: The Festographer/ The Stop Community Food Centre, Mark Simmons Design 

event laser cutting toronto


There are so many exciting local art and design events coming up this season. Here are some of our favourites:

1. Luminato (June 10 – 26)

For the past ten years Luminato has been one of the largest art and performance events of its kind featuring over 11,000 artists from all around the world. The event takes place at the Hearn, an abandoned generating station. The massive industrial space will be full of art installations and one of a kind performances. Check some of the event gifts we made for them over the years.

2. NXNE (June 13 – 19)

North by Northeast is a seven day summer music festival and conference that covers everything from music to visual art, comedy and film. The festival takes over the city to include some of the most interesting downtown venues such as clubs, parks, boats and Dundas square for screenings, live shows and art installations. Check out the lineup for NXNE.

3. The Stop Night Market (June 14 – 15)

Every year The Stop Night Market fundraiser brings together talent from Toronto’s culinary and design scenes including over 70 chefs, 20 beverage providers and 35 locally designed food carts. This two night event combines stunning designs with great food, what could be better?! See some of the great designs from previous years. 

4. Maker Festival Month of Making  (June 15 – 17)

Maker Festival is one of Toronto’s craftiest events that combines art, tech, and everything in between. This year the event is going to be a full month long. The main exhibition featuring over 100 makers will be at the Toronto Reference Library, but there will also be over 80 satellite events to attend!

5. Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (July 8 – 10)

The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit is Canada’s largest juried outdoor art exhibition featuring the work of over 350 artists. The entire event happens at Nathan Phillips Square and brings in over 100,000 visitors.

6. Made in Canada Etsy (September 24)

Made in Canada Etsy day will be happening in Toronto at OCAD University. The pop-up event is a great way to check out the work of local artisans and designers 

Are you an etsy seller? List up to 20 items on Etsy for Free by going to this link by using promo code “HOTPOPFACTORY”


Luminato event gifts

As the weather warms up, event season sizzles! For some great guest engagement ideas in the summer ahead, we’re taking you backstage to one of our favourite annual events — Luminato Festival’s Big Bang Bash.
For the past ten years Luminato has been one of the largest art and performance events of its kind featuring over 11,000 artists from all around the world. Every year before the festival begins, the donor’s gala celebrates the many people who support festival. Here’s a sneak peek behind how we conceptualized, designed and created the guest engagement experiences for the event.

Laser Engraving Toronto

Start with research

A great place to start when designing something fresh for an event theme is to build a collage of visual influences. For the 2014 Luminato donor’s gala festival art director Jorn Weisbrodt developed the theme of Berlin subculture throughout the decades. To design the event gifts we researched Berlin design in everything from cultural to architectural references from the early 1920s to 80s. We mixed influences from art deco, bauhaus and Berlin punk rock to come up with gritty leather and reflective acrylic designs that were really elegant but also matched the industrial feel of the Hearn.

Luminato Event Gifts Sketches

Laser Engraving Leather Bracelets Toronto

Make it custom

For your special guests, upgrade your  VIP swag by adding a personal touch such as a custom engraving. Nothing wows event guests more than finding out that something was made specially just for them. For Luminato we topped off the beautiful leather designs with custom monograms. The customization was done for guests before the event and so required some coordination with the event team on guest lists and confirmed attendees, but the results really pay off.

Luminato laser cutting Toronto

Luminato Laser Cut Toronto

Luminato Laser Cut Toronto

Make it interactive

It really adds to the fun when guests can build and customize their own gifts. The theme for the 2015 gala was industry vs nature so we combined them to make DIY flower presses with laser cutting. Each guest got to make their own unique flower press by picking the flowers and greenery to make their own piece of green art, and finally tightening the plates together. Adding in that element of customization and DIY was a huge hit and our station was packed all night.

Luminato laser cut toronto

Luminato laser cut toronto

Stay true to the cause

A great place to look for gift inspiration is to remember what you are celebrating in the first place. For the 2015 Big Bang Bash,we wanted to focus on what Luminato is all about — the performances! Each flower press gift had one of ten quotes from plays in the festival’s lineup. After putting it together guests were able to take home a little memento from the festival and their favourite plays.

Luminato laser cut toronto

Luminato laser cut toronto

This year we’re planning for another exciting round of the donor’s gala which precedes the Luminato from June 10th to 26th. You’ll have to wait until after the gala to find out more, but in the meantime check out the exciting lineup of artists and performers they have for this year.
Images via: George Pimental and Hot Pop Factory

laser engraved wood scrabble

We love when clients come up with crafty gift ideas! Mark Simmons is a talented local designer whose work has been influenced by his time abroad. After doing a Master’s in sustainable design in Sweden and then spending some time working in Berlin, he moved to Canada to start Lumbürr Co – a lifestyle brand of handcrafted wooden products built for a day out in nature. The brand combines the natural woodsy aesthetics of Canadiana with a hint of Swedishness. Recently, he created a fun self-directed project where he redesigned a Scrabble board game with a nautical theme – perfect for a weekend at the cottage.

laser cut board game

Originally the nautical board game was meant to be a one-off for a family member, but after a photography studio in Brooklyn saw some images of it online, Mark was asked to make 100 custom sets as a holiday present for their clients. As a result, Mark changed the theme from nautical to photography, and also redesign the game board to suit the laser cutting manufacturing process through little alterations such as making custom tile holders. For this second version, Mark also added a bit of colour to the designs. To make that happen we printed the colours directly onto the wood using digital colour printing. After the CMYK colour was done we laser cut the wood, Mark put the finished packaging and handmade details together.

laser cut board game

The cool part was how easily production was scaled– whether he was making 1 or 100 sets the process stayed the same. Also in terms of aesthetic, laser cutting was a great way of making a custom project that balanced the DIY made-by-hand look with the quick turnaround time of mass production. The clients got a very novel gift with costs that were comparable to less interesting corporate gifts. The kits were such a hit that Mark told us he will be making even more redesigned games this year. To see more of Mark’s unique projects check out his awesome design portfolio.

laser engraved wood

Images Via: Mark Simmons


Before the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum opened in 2015, the museum hired the talented team at Reich+Petch Design to do everything from the museum planning and exhibition design to the graphic design and promotional campaigns. To create a unique and wow-worthy campaign for the museum the team at Reich+Petch focused on the area’s unique paleontology history. 

3d printed dinosaur

The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in little Wembley, Alberta is located five minutes away from one of the most historic paleontology sites in Canada – Pipestone Creek. Way back in 1974 Pipestone Creek became an important dinosaur site when a local school teacher went out for a nature walk and ended up coming across the remains of the yet to be discovered dinosaur species Pachyrhinosaurus. To come up with their promotional campaign Reich+Petch wondered how they could help visitors re-experience that exciting historical discovery. What if each visitor could have their own Pachyrhinosaurus?

dinosaur 3d process

3d printed dinosaurs

To make it happen they had experts create mini 3D models of what the Pachyrhinosaurus would have looked like and then we 3D printed them out at Hot Pop. The coolest part of 3D printing for exhibitions is that it can really bring the museum to life! Along with the 3D printed Pachyrhinosaurus, we also printed out some touchable fossils. Most fossils and bones are too fragile or sensitive to touch since they need to be kept safe from moisture on our hands. With 3D models you can replicate the sensitive remains and then print them out in more durable materials. For the museum this turned the typical “do not touch” exhibition into a “please touch” interaction. 



The beautiful Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is now open for visits, and also just recently won a Canadian Museums Association Award of Outstanding Achievement is Exhibitions for Science! Find out more about visiting the Museum

Philip J Currie Museum

Museum Planning, Exhibition Design, Graphic Design and Promotional Campaign: Reich+Petch Design International
Multimedia Design and Digital Model: The Design Foundation
Client: Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative
Museum Photography: Tom Arban Photography Inc.

Jose Navarrete

Studio Lulo Fusion Chair
Studio Lulo’s founder Jose Navarrete is a creative self-starter. After moving to Canada in 2006, he started working as a draftsman in a furniture factory, sneaking into the frame shop and upholstery room to observe workers take raw materials, process them, and watch what he had drafted a few days ago materialize into a finished product. In 2014, Jose decided that he wanted to make his own designs so he drew some sketches, prepared the 3D CAD models, made a cardboard model for visualization, and had the parts of the frame cut in a CNC machine. After completing his first chair, he enjoyed the process so much that it became motivation to keep making more and more, that’s when he started Studio Lulo.

Studio Lulo Fusion Chair

For one of his more recent creations, the Fusion Stool, Jose used layers of laser cut plywood to build out the form instead of milling a block of solid wood to reduce material waste. Each section of the stool is precision cut, and once all the pieces were stacked into a cascading shapes, the stool was then sanded down and smoothed into one organic, fluid form.

During production Jose enjoys getting everything done locally: “You get to see and be involved in the manufacturing process, which is crucial for us so we can make sure the quality is beyond our client’s expectations. You also speed up your project timelines since you don’t have to wait too long for items to be shipped.” By jumping into new fabrication processes it has improved not only production but also how the business runs from marketing materials to design research. To see more of Jose’s beautiful work visit the Studio Lulo website.


Studio Lulo Fusion Chair

Studio Lulo Fusion Chair

Images Via: Studio Lulo – photographer Jose Navarrete

Uncuffed Leather Olga

uncuffed laser cut leather

UNCUFFED is a beautiful line of leather accessories created by Olga Barsky, a stylist with over a decade of experience in fashion. Olga turned to leather for it’s long-lasting quality, and her collections are  made using hides from local distributors that are by-products of the food industry. Even the offcuts are used again for other accessory projects in the UNCUFFED line like her edgy handmade flower crowns and cage harnesses. Her business, housed in her studio in Church Street Village, also works with local garment engineers and suppliers for each unique look.

uncuffed laser cut leather

Our favourite pieces in her collection are where Olga combined her handmaking skills with cutting edge technology. To create her beautiful patterned leather scarves, she turned to laser cutting to achieve the fine details and precision cuts. The smooth lambskin leather lies flat on the machine and each cut comes out with perfect accuracy. By using laser cutting Olga is able to make designs that would otherwise be impossible. Also, by automating some of the production processes it means she has more time to grow the brand and create new designs.
Last week, Olga made a splash at Toronto Fashion Week in collaboration with Helder Diego. Check out the backstage pics here. To see more of Olga’s innovative accessory line visit the UNCUFFED Leather website.

Uncuffed leather lookbook

uncuffed laser cut leather

Images Via: UNCUFFED – Olga Barsky and She Does the City