We may have mentioned our love for laser cutters here at oomlout once or twice: we use them to build both our products and the tools for making said products. With the growth of hackspaces throughout the world and the launch of manufacturing-on-demand services access to laser cutters has never been easier, and for the truly dedicated there are even DIY designs and tiny desktop versions. Having access to a laser cutter and knowing how to get the best out of it aren't the same thing, however - but cut-on-demand provider Ponoko has stepped forward with a list of tips for keeping laser-cutting costs down. Many commercial services charge for the time a project takes on the laser, and even hackspaces that give you unlimited access to their laser cutter would prefer it if you kept the cutting time to a minimum both to reduce electricity costs and to give others a chance to play too. With advice ranging from printing on paper then moving to cardboard prototypes, reducing complex details in the design and grouping parts together, it's a great collection of advice for the laser-cutting enthusiast - even if some of the advice is, naturally, tailored specifically to Ponoko's services.
Printing out your design on paper is an ideal way to spot sizing or design errors, see whether holes or tolerances are big enough, and get a general feel for what your final result will look like. You could consider this as a free instant first prototype.