The Web's Geekiest Papercraft Projects
If you routinely lust after expensive technology that you can't afford, we can help. ...Help you print out views of your gadget of choice and then glue them together into a paper replica, anyway.
Papercraft is an art form and a hobby that involves cutting up heavy paper or card stock and gluing the pieces together (unlike origami, which consists of folding sheets of paper). Papercraft projects can range in complexity from beginner-level (think "papercraft playing card") to extremely advanced; you can even use Adobe Photoshop or papercraft designer app "Pepakura" to turn your 3-D models into own papercraft projects.
Of course, if you're a little less ambitious, you can find tons of premade papercraft designs on the Internet that are ready for printing out and cutting up--and we've rounded up nine of the geekiest, most tech-oriented designs for your viewing (and building) pleasure.
So gather up the scissors and glue, and get ready to make some awesome paper models.
Note: Some of the models presented here are posted online in PDF format, while others are posted in PDO format. To view the PDO models, you'll need to download the free Pepakura viewer.
Also, don't forget to check out 8 Creative Weekend Printer Projects for more printer arts and crafts.
MacBook Air Papercraft
Just because you can't afford Steve Jobs's favorite toy doesn't mean you can't have your own tiny, paper-thin, light-as-air laptop. This MacBook Air papercraft model is actually very simple to make. Simply cut out the papercraft model, fold, and glue.
The papercraft replica includes its own tiny Manila envelope, so you can experience (or simulate) that "OMG IS THIS REALLY A NOTEBOOK?!" moment again and again. There's even a parody ad on YouTube for the "MacBook Paper" that you can show off to your friends.
IBM ThinkPad Papercraft
Do you miss your big, blocky, black IBM ThinkPad? Well, if you do, rejoice: Now you can make your very own official papercraft ThinkPad!
The Japanese Lenovo Website has posted papercraft templates for a number of ThinkPad models, including the ThinkPad T Series, the ThinkPad X Series, and the ThinkPad X Series Tablet. The instructions are in Japanese, but the illustrations are pretty straightforward.
For good measure, here's a more detailed ThinkPad papercraft. Unfortunately, its instructions, too, are in Japanese.
Photo courtesy of the Lenovo Photo Library
That's right...for people who just love flash drives, here's a life-size version made of paper? This simple model doesn't require any complicated folding, so it's a great project for inexperienced papercrafters!
Without question, building a papercraft USB flash drive will earn you a true geek card, straight away. (You might have to print it out yourself, though.)
The iPad is expected to reach consumers by April 3, but maybe you can't wait. Maybe you need to have a magical wonder-tablet in your hands right this very minute. Well, we can't help you there. But we can point you toward a simple, sexy papercraft iPad model by Hisashi Imai, that may get you through the next couple of weeks.
If you tend to prefer less cutting and more folding, consider Jess Silverstone's papercraft iPad (download the front here and the back here). And if you'd rather capture the moment than the gadget, here's a papercraft tribute to Steve Jobs's iPad speech.
That's right, gamers: This one is for you.
Who needs gadgets when you can bring your favorite video game characters to life with papercraft? The Unofficial World of Warcraft Papercrafts site has a number of (somewhat challenging) papercraft projects to choose from, including Kaelthas (right), Thrall (center), and a female Night Elf (left).
These are fairly advanced papercraft projects--probably not the sort of thing a novice should undertake right away. If you'd like to see more such productions, check out the Unofficial World of Warcraft Papercrafts' Flickr stream.
Photo courtesy of the Unofficial World of Warcraft Papercrafts site
Android Robot Papercraft
It's about time we showed our favorite not-being-evil (or not?) company some love--and since no one seems inclined to take on the challenge of constructing a papercraft version of the Google logo, how about the Android robot! This adorable little green droid, which comes with its very own Google stand, is the eighth version that its creator has come up with. For best results with your model, he creator recommends using "Sulphite A4" or "Sulphite 40" paper.
Nintendo DS Papercraft
If you're a fan of tiny consoles, you'll probably love this tiny handheld console--the Nintendo DS Lite. The model, designed by Sonicscape Jun of "papercraft gadgets" fame (regrettably, many of his models are no longer available), is scarcely bigger than a paperclip.
The template is available in both blue and white, and features a tiny Nintendogs game cartridge and a tiny pocket for the tiny cartridge.
For more Nintendo handheld fun, check out the papercraft Nintendo Gameboy Color.
Nintendo Wii Papercraft
Brad4ds, from FX Console, brings us this awesomely detailed mini Nintendo Wii papercraft, which includes box, Wii-mote and wrist strap, and instruction booklets. That's right, this papercraft project omits nothing, right down to tiny versions of the Quick Start Guide, Nintendo Power Subscription, and Wii Registration Form--talk about detail!
Unfortunately, the template isn't finished yet. So far, only the Wii, Wii stand, and Wii sports disk (with jacket) have been realized.
Tux the Penguin
Linux fans have waited patiently while we spotlighted Apple, Microsoft, Google, and even Nintendo papercrafts, so now its their turn. This Tux the Penguin project is a little blocky, but it'll make an adorable mascot for your desk. Though the model is a bit harder to make than, say, the USB facsimile, it is nonetheless considerably simpler than the World of Warcraft papercrafts. And Tux is so cute that even non-Linux users may be tempted to give this project a whirl.
Photo courtesy of Siobhan at NicePaperToys.com
Make Your Own Papercrafts!
After seeing all of those awesome papercraft models, you must be itching to get started on your own--so what do you need?
First, you need a template. You can create your own using Pepakura or Photoshop, or you can use one of the templates we linked to. Second you need a reasonably good inkjet printer. If you don't already have one, check out our current chart of Top 5 Inkjet Printers.
Then, you'll need materials for the project (paper, card stock, cardboard, plywood, polymer plastic sheets, and metal are all acceptable) and tools. If you're working with paper products, a paper knife and a metal ruler are all you need. If you're working with plastic sheets, plywood, or metal, you'll need heavier cutting tools (check with a hardware store).
Finally, you'll need glue (art glue, super glue, and epoxy adhesives all work) and acrylic paints (if you're not printing your model templates in color).