Tag: Manufacturing

CNC Hot Wire Foam Cutting Machine

CNC Hot Wire Foam Cutting Machine

Sunday, April 2, 2017 | By | Add a Comment
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CNC Hot Wire Foam Cutting Machine

A CNC hot wire foam cutter is a computer controlled machine used for mainly cutting Polystyrene foam (also known as EPS foam) and similar materials, such as polypropylene (Known as EPP) and polyethylene (known as PE).  The machine consists of a wire running between 2 towers, which is heated via a hot wire power supply, thus melting and cutting the foam into the desired shape.  The towers can move in an X-Axis (right-left) and a Y-Axis (up-down).

Cutting the foam is done in 3 basic steps:
1. Drawing the desired shape to be cut.
2. Converting the shape into G-Code
3. Running the machine with the software to execute the desired shape.

Any CAD software, such as AutoCAD or Corel Draw can be used for drawing the shape, as long as the file can be saved in a DXF format.  There are various CAD files in the market.  More recommended ones include Instant Engineer 14, which can be purchased online for few dollars, DesignCAD, AutoCAD and TurboCAD.  Another CAD software is DevFoam, that combines both the drawing and the G-Code generation.  It is a user friendly application for cutting foam with a 4 Axis CNC machine.

Next step is to convert the shape into G-Code.  The G-Code is another name for the computerized tool by which we tell the machine what to cut and how to cut it.  For the conversion one can use software such as DeskCNC, DevCAD or FoamWorks.
DeskCNC was originally designed for a 3 Axis CNC Router machines.  It was later on modified to enable a 4 Axis foam cutters to run as well.
FoamWorks is known for its simplicity and being a user friendly software.  It is designed to drive a 4 Axis foam cutter via a parallel port of any windows based computer.  It can cut any shape, but works best for cutting RC wings.

For the last stage of running the machine, software such as Mach3 and DeskCNC can be used.  The Mach3 program is a G-Code reader.  It allows you to turn your PC computer into a 4 Axis CNC controller for machining and cutting.  It is an operating system for running the CNC hot wire foam cutter.  It was originally developed for the home hobbyist, and later modified for use for any CNC machine operation for industrial use.

Solidworks Surface Modeling

Solidworks Surface Modeling

Saturday, November 26, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Solidworks Surface Modeling

Hello again my faithful readers, I hope you are all doing well and your holiday festivities are bringing you wonderful tidings of joy this holiday season.  I am still working on patching things up with this website.  There have been a lot of hang ups in getting things smoothed and ironed out with the transfer of my old site to my new domain name, so I hope you will all be understanding and bear with me as these issues are resolved in due time.  I want to thank all of my loyal readers who have remained dedicated and faithful throughout the months since I first began my blog, and I look forward to more prosperous times and continued blogging in the future.  And of course, I bid you all happy holidays and I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday solstice.

Today, I would like to share something new and exciting for all of you drafter/designers out there who may have experience in working with Solidworks, or would like more experience in Solidworks surface designing through tutorials and step-by-step courses.  I have recently been introduced to a great site at solidworks-insight.com which has some wonderful beginner to advanced courses on solidworks design.  For those of you who are craving a more advanced project, there is also an Aston Martin you can download the .PDF instructional files for too!  Of course, nothing this good could be free, and it isn’t.  But for $15, you can learn some impressive Solidworks designing skills with the experience of designing your own Aston Martin!  Yes, you too can enjoy the wonder of what it would be like to be the designer for cars that the likes of secret agent men like James Bond 007 drive as his vehicle of choice!

For those of you who wish to take on an even bigger project, there is even an extensive yacht creation course available at www.yachttutorial.com.  This project will supposedly teach you to become a MASTER at Solidworks design.  However, like I said before, nothing this good could be free, and it isn’t.  The price to acquire the knowledge and skills to become a Solidworks MASTER is a rather large fee, indeed!  But for only approximately $370, you can learn some extremely valuable skills and create something worthwhile in the process.

I, myself, am currently working on an Audi R8 design which I acquired at www.solidworksaudir8.com.  This is a great course and it comes with a downloadable video player and many hours of videos to assist you step by step in creating this vehicle.  But, yes you guessed it.  NOTHING this good could be free, and of course….it isn’t.  But, for $137 you can design your own Audi R8 and be on your way to gaining essential Solidworks skills.

There are a lot of tutorials out there that give you good fundamental skills and knowledge with Solidworks.  However, there are a LOT of incomplete and corrupt tutorials out there as well.  A lot of what you these tutorials teach may or may not be the best and most efficient ways of working with Solidworks.  It would be my suggestion to take the best of what you learn from these tutorials and develop your own tactics in using the tools and quick selections to give you the best advantage in the use of the program, especially when time and speed are of necessity in a professional environment.

3D Printed Architecture

3D Printed Architecture

Monday, June 13, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

3D Printed Architecture

3D printed architecture is quickly becoming a viable method of construction in the near future.  Teams of architects in London and Amsterdam are competing to produce the first habitable printed structure, using technology that could transform the way buildings are made.  Though they all have the same objective, the teams are investigating very different materials and fabrication methods.

Existing 3D printers are only able to produce homogeneous materials that have the same properties throughout. But graded materials would be useful for printing architectural elements such as beams or façades that mimic bone, which is hard on the outside but spongy on the inside.  But gradients are hard to produce with the current generation of 3D printers, which rely on armatures or gantries that can only move on three axes such as back and forward, side to side, and up and down, and which must lay down material in layers, one atop the other.  They also require complex support structures to be printed at the same time to prevent the printed objects collapsing under their own weight.

In traditional 3D printing, the gantry size poses an obvious limitation for the designer who wishes to print in larger scales and achieve structural and material complexity.  Research is being done in investigating ways of printing with additional axes of movement, by replacing the gantry with a six-axis robotic arm.  This will allow “free-form” printing at a larger scale and without the need for support structures.

Today’s material limitations can be overcome by printing with responsive materials.  Gantry limitations can be overcome by printing with multiple interactive robot-printers.  Process limitations can be overcome by moving from layering to weaving in 3D space, using a robotic arm.  Robotic arms can be used to print in traditional materials, such as plastic, concrete or composites, or employed to weave or knit three-dimensional fibre structures.  Researchers are also exploring how the high-performance fibres excreted by silkworms and spiders could be produced artificially.  In the future, buildings may be constructed by swarms of tiny robots that use a combination of printing and weaving techniques, called “swarm” construction.

CNC 3D Printing for Parts

CNC 3D Printing for Parts

Thursday, April 14, 2016 | By | Add a Comment
A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Le...

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Leonhard Building at Penn State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nederlands: Presentatie van de 3D printer op d...

Nederlands: Presentatie van de 3D printer op de Wikimedia Conferentie 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CNC 3D Printing for Parts

When learning about what manufacturing machines suit your needs as a parts designer or creator, there seems to be a universe of factors to consider when finding the best machines to meet your needs.  For those of my fellow readers that have relatively little or no knowledge on these machines, I would like to briefly describe the functionality as well as the fundamental differences and highs and lows of CNC/3D printing for parts.

CNC mills can work on a huge variety of materials: metal alloys (e.g. aluminum, steel alloys, brass, copper), softwoods and hardwoods, thermoplastics, acrylic, modeling foams, machining wax (for creating a positive model for casting).  You may need different cutting tools for different materials, but the tool-to-machine interfaces are usually standardized – so the tools can easily be exchanged.  This way, you can utilize a CNC mill to manufacture prototypes in the same material that will be used for the final product – so you can immediately start testing.

Desktop 3D printers are usually restricted to a few materials, typically thermoplastics (PLA, ABS, sometimes nylon) or resins. Thermoplastics can be mixed with other materials such as ceramics, wood, metal, but the workpieces produced on a 3D printer will not be as robust as workpieces cut from a block of metal or wood.  As thermoplastics and resin 3D printers use completely different methods, a resin printer cannot handle thermoplastics and vice versa.  These machines are far from perfect and the ability to create precision parts depends on a variety of factors.  In practice, dull or damaged cutting tools, worn mills or faulty data delivered by the CAM software may result in inaccurate workpieces.  Precision in 3D printing is far from perfect and many parts can have many flaws and errors in their creation.  Some 3D printers promise very high precision but fail to deliver it from time to time.  Precision also relies on the capabilities and skills of the programmer/user, and there is a lot of learning and trial and error that goes along with using these machines.

Comparing speed is difficult as CNC mills and 3D printers are typically used for different workpieces and materials.  However, 3D printing jobs often take hours to complete, whereas CNC milling jobs with comparable size and complexity normally do not take more than an hour.  CNC mills are typically faster when chipping away material from a solid block than 3D printers that build objects layer by layer and occasionally have to slow down to avoid printing problems.

Depending on the material used, CNC milling can get extremely noisy.  Cutting metal or wood using a large-diameter tool (to quickly remove large parts) can be ear-deafening.  The rattling noise from a desktop 3D printer without casing is like a gentle waft in comparison.  When cutting wax models, the noise from a CNC mill is hardly perceptible, however.  When working on a metal or wood block, a CNC mill also vibrates heavily and you wouldn’t want to have it on the desktop near you (even if you wore ear defenders to block of the noise).  Vibration normally is no issue when 3D printing.

CNC milling means cutting away material using a rotating tool.  So, as a result there is a lot of material spurting away, and that may be quite sharp (e.g., splinters of wood or metal).  Not all CNC mills are fully enclosed when working on a block of material, so things can get quite messy.  And with enclosed mills, you have to clean up the mess inside, once the workpiece is finished.  3D printing is not messy by design.  When something goes wrong, however, you may need to remove thermoplastics from your printbed.  But that is nothing compared to cleaning up after CNC milling.  By design, there is less waste in 3D printing as this technology only requires the material needed for building the workpiece.  In CNC milling you need a block of material that has at minimum the size of the workpiece and a lot of material has to be removed and often cannot be recycled.

CNC milling is the better solution when manufacturing workpieces that need to be extremely robust and precise and/or heat-resistant.  3D printing has more exotic fields of application: It can be used for bioprinting, for printing food, for building purposes, and it can be used in space (e.g. on the ISS or in future space missions).

Pricewise, getting started is less costly with 3D printing: You can get decent 3D printers for about $500, while the CNC mills featured on Kickstarter recently start at $2,000.  Technology in these machines however is rapidly advancing and new developments are continually being rolled out including a machine that has the functionality of a CNC machine, 3D printer and laser cutter/engraver combined.  So, if you want the best of all worlds, you may want to wait a little while to purchase a machine to cater to all your needs.

Making Molded Helmet Designs

Making Molded Helmet Designs

Sunday, April 3, 2016 | By | Add a Comment


Making Molded Helmet Designs

Another recommended accessory for the cosplayer or semi-cosplayer at heart, is, of course, the helmet or head wear.  This often requires making molded helmet designs of your own creation in order to fit your unique alter ego.  Maybe Bruce Wayne wouldn’t care if he were to reveal his identity as Batman as long as his job get’s done, but for the sake of his protection, along with some cool gadgets in his helmet, it is safer for him to don the bat helm.

So, how does the helmet wearing cosplayer or semi-cosplayer go about creating their own headpiece.  Well, there are several ways of doing this, such as creating a CNC manufactured or 3D printed helmet of course.  I am not going to go into great detail about the processes, but I will talk about a process which I am familiar with which involves creating a clay molding for preparation of creating a casted helmet, much like the helmet in the video above.  This way involves hardening clay around a replica of your own head which can be a lifecasting of your head or something that could be used in place which is the same size and formation of your head.

When purchasing a clay for the mold, it is wise to go with NSP clay which is sulfur free clay, since sulfur will react with the curing chemicals in the rubber that is used for the mold, causing the clay to warp and the silicone not to cure properly.  Other clays that may be considered are oil based clays as well.  Always make sure that your floor is protected with some type of floor cover to prevent stains or ruining any carpeted area.

Once you have the clay, then you can start builiding it up in block like formations on the head replica.

Once you have built the clay up to represent the basic blocking of the subject, you can start sculpting it down to get more accurate shapes, contours, and details using finer and more precise tools.

Symmetry on both sides of the helmet is very important for a good looking helmet, just like a good looking head in real life, and I’m sure all the ladies would agree with me there, right?  You can use mineral spirits and a paint brush to smooth out areas and make sculpting easier and cut down on sanding time at the end of the project.

Once you’re satisfied, what you want to do is prep the sculpture for the molding process.  It is good to go over the entire sculpt with a few layers of primer to seal up the clay really good.  It will also take out any small scratches that the brush may have left.  So, now you should have a wonderfully symmetrical molding prepared for the casting process.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about creating a sculpted helmet design, and for more information on casting and casted designs, please take a look at the video above and stay tuned to the same bat website for more blogging on helmet creation in the future!

Robotic Cosmetics Design

Robotic Cosmetics Design

Saturday, April 2, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Robotic Cosmetics Design

In the accessorizing of the semi-cosplay group of dark electronic, science fiction lovers that I affiliate with, a common theme is robot or cybernetic add-ons such as robotic appendages and electronic, lighted body features in robotic cosmetics design.  There are specialty websites that are geared towards the hobbyist that have sections of DIY or do-it-yourself wearable components that you can use to aid in the design of your own custom attire.

Researchers are continuing to develop robotic like designs to aid disabled people and the elderly in rehabilitation and assisting functionalities.  A recently devised hand exoskeleton called the Assisted Finger Orthosis, is a hand exoskeleton can be customized for an individual using 48 parameters. The battery-powered device uses small linear motors that can be programmed to move the finger as part of a rehab process.  Parameters can be set for finger movement, the range of motion and the frequency.  Each finger on the exoskeleton has eight rigid parts and pins that can be made using a 3D printer.

Someone interested in these type of accessories can either pay for the individual parts through the developer’s means of selling the parts, or they can also decide to design and make it themselves.  This could be done using computer aided drafting and design programs such as AutoCAD and transferring your design to a 3D printer or CNC machine for your own custom made parts.  Many cosplayer and semi-cosplayer designs are now being made this way.

In order to get an individual effect that is unique to your cosplay make-over, then one must have unique designs to add to their attire.  This takes a matter of instruction and learning about a range of technology and other topics including electronics, drafting, design, CAD, CAM, CNC manufacturing, 3D printing, fashion, sewing and materials which would be best suited for your accessories.  If this is something you are interested in, or are considering doing, then you will need to learn these things as well as keeping up on the latest developments as well as the practices and processes of designing your own custom cosplay, or semi-cosplay design.  Take a look at the above video regarding an Iron Man robotic hand an arm accessory and lights that some innovative designer created to give you some inspiration.