A3: Laser Cut Tablet Stand

Laser cut tablet stand 1: with a book
This is picture of the final prototype, made from chipboard. Here it is holding up a book instead of a tablet, since that’s all I had the time. However, by using the book, it’s also easier to see more of the stand, since it’s smaller than the average tablet.

Assignment A3 is a laser cut object. The limitations on our object are as follows:

  • must be cut from a single sheet of 18″ x 24″ chipboard (which my class provided)
  • must not use any glue, tape, or other fastening materials to assemble and use
  • must be able to be dissembled into pieces that can be stored flat and transported (as in a backpack)

We had the choice between a couple of things (a laptop stand, a phone stand for shooting videos, etc.), but in the end I went with a tablet stand. I called it the “Butterfly” design, since one of my peers told me it looked like a butterfly.

(If you would like to see larger versions of any of the images, just click the image.)

The Design

Some of my inital tablet stand ideas 1

Some of my inital tablet stand ideas 2
These two images show some of my initial brainstorming sketches. As you can see, I played around with a lot of odd shapes at first.

When I first started brainstorming for a design, most of the ideas I had were complicated and had too many parts. I was also trying to incorporate odd shapes– half-circles, even half-hexagons (more commonly known as trapezoids). But after a while of this I realized something crucial: I need to stick to my core principles.

And one of my core principles is that, many times, simpler is better.

In designing my tablet stand, I wanted two things:

  1. to increase the stability of my design (especially when considering the flimsiness of the material being used), and
  2. to limit the number of pieces used in the design for easy assembly and transportation

This lead me to the butterfly design. In the case of my tablet stand, form follows function.

butterfly design for the tablet stand
These are the dimensions I used for the “butterfly” design for the tablet stand. Each measurement was calculated to fit the dimensions of an iPad.

Composed of two roughly triangular pieces with feet and interlocking slits, the tablet stand is easy to assemble and disassemble. The cross in the middle of the stand also helps support the tablet. In the end, I only used up less than half of the 18″ x 24″ chipboard rectangle we were given.

In creating the tablet stand, I made multiple size calculations before mapping out my design digitally (as you can see from my sketches). Math is one of my specialties, so it was very enjoyable. I calculated he relative size of each triangle using the measurements of my friend’s iPad, and based the viewing angle on how I usually tilt my screens when I’m sitting at a table.

Afterwards, digital renderings were created using a combination of Adobe Illustrator and Rhinoceros.

tablet stand in adoble illustrator
I used Adobe Illustrator to create the design with exact dimensions, then imported it into Rhino.

I also added a hexagon logo to each piece, just for fun.

The Prototype

V1: Cereal Box

cereal box tablet stand triangles
I cut these pieces according to the dimensions I calculated. They are an exact size.
cereal box tablet stand
This is the assembled stand, made of cereal box material. Because the material is thin, the slits do not lock well.

Before laser cutting the chip board, I first tested out my design using a cereal box. The cereal box version was able to support the weight of the tablet on its own, although a bit shakily, since the cereal box cardboard tended to fall flat if the slits weren’t aligned properly, due to it being very thin material. However, seeing that the design was successful, I went ahead and laser cut the chipboard.

V2: Chipboard

chipboard tablet stand traingles

chipboard tablet stand
This is the final prototype, made from chipboard

I ended up adjusting the thickness of the slit, since my chipboard’s thickness fell between 0.06″ and 0.065″ when I took measurements from multiple spots. In the end I went with a slit thickness of 0.065″, resulting in the table stand in the pictures.


chipboard tablet stand with tablet 1 chipboard tablet stand with tablet 1

Analysis after testing

Did it work? Yes. The stand was able to support a tablet, and achieved my initial goals of providing stability and minimizing the amount of pieces needed.

Feedback on my design from my peers was very positive. Many people liked the simple design, and appreciated its sturdiness. At one point, I did wonder if the design was too simple. But in the end, I still stand by simplicity as one of my core principles.

However, if I were to do this again, I might make a few changes, based on my actual laser cut prototype. I think that the slits could have been made a bit thinner. I went with the outside estimate (0.065″) to be safe, and it held up, but the joined pieces were a bit more loose than I would’ve liked. It is fine the way it is, but a tighter lock would give me peace of mind. Then again, if the interlocking slits were made too tight, a user might have difficulty assembling the pieces, and it could result in wear along the slit line, making the design more fragile. In the future, I could play around with the thickness of the slit, something I could not test by using cereal box material.

Another change I might make would be to make the curved feet just a bit larger/deeper, so that the tablet can be held even more securely, even with a case attached.

Also, I got a comment from one of my friends suggesting that the viewing angle should be steeper. While the angle is suited to my own preference, it would be interesting to do more research on what the ideal viewing angle for a tablet would be, barring the addition of any adjustable elements.



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