Archive for August 2013

ParadroidAbstractMix81min.mp3.mp3

http://sc-fa.com for more info

laser cutter design portability

I’ve had my full spectrum engineering gen5 hobby laser for about 8 months, and I’m enjoying using it. I’m not a total newb to using a laser. I had a couple months of intensive usage at Tech Shop years ago.  After that, I bought a CNC Router, and after that a 3d Printer.  I tinker with a lot of different things.

Over the years, I’ve seen a range of design files that people have shared.  For the 3d printer, typically you’d go to Thingiverse to get and share designs that you can use in your device.Thingiverse has some design files for CNC routers…   Some things make sense to share for a 2.5D personal manufacturing device.  And I guess if you’re making 2d things with the laser cutter, then of course you can share all kinds of clip art and whatnot.

A 3d printer is fairly straight forward.  The output is handled by the media you’re printing with. Your slicing software just accounts for everything and spits out machine code to do the right thing.  And things usually go well and you end up with what you were trying to end up with.

If you’re making 3d things from 2d media with the laser cutter, things get more complicated. If you pick up someone’s design on thingiverse, it’s designed for a specific thickness sheet good to cut the shapes out of.  If the design has finger joints or cross braces or is a box of any kind, it has to be designed with parts precisely cut to fit with whatever you’ve chosen to make your project out of.

Exhibit A:

The iPhone 5 stand by Kip

iPhone_5_Stand_by_Kip_-_Thingiverse-2

I like this design. A lot. It’s clean, thoughtful, and looks like it would take all of 10 minutes to cut out.  The description says it’s cut from 4mm thick plexiglass.

I guess “plexiglass” is the same thing as a sheet of acrylic.  So I’d go with a sheet of acrylic. I just went out to my garage and measured easily 20 pieces of acrylic, and NONE of them are 4mm thick.  So if I threw a 4.75mm thick sheet of acrylic onto the laser and ran this file as-is, none of the joints would fit because they’re expecting a thinner material.  So it would be a total waste of time and materials.

So, I’m here to do some wishing.

I wish there was a 3d cad program that would let me draw an abstracted design without specific thicknesses until I know what material I have in my hand that I’m going to use in my project. For the iPhone stand above, we know there are 4 pieces.  So if my wish came true, I could say “here’s the overall dimensions, this piece should have this critical angle, this edge should not be programmatically variable, but the rest of these pieces are dynamic.

iPhone_5_Stand_by_Kip_-_Thingiverse

Oh. I guess that would be a parametric cad program. Anyone ever heard of a parametric cad program aimed at designing for a laser cutter?

moar life!

The laser is working well enough to feel good about my ability to reliably make cases. This is good. I need to assess what parts I have and what I can do in the short term. There’s been a lot of thought going on inside my head about what’s next. Not sure what I’m going to do yet, but believe me, I have beatseqr on the brain again.