Silversark put together an amazing fashion show on Friday to showcase pieces she made inspired by church architecture and her trip to the Netherlands. This is something I cooked up for a background piece for the show.
The design work took several months and the actual creation of the piece took about a week, working 12-16 hours a day. The frame is made from CNC routed aspen (thanks, Jason H.!) which is a rather “fuzzy” wood and required two days to hand finish, including the use of a set of needles files to smooth out the inset edges.
The acrylic panels were hand-stained with Gallery Glass stain and simulated liquid leading. They’re not quite finished yet, but I plan to complete the staining within the next week.
Recently, I’ve been doing some work sandblasting. Because Pi Day was coming up (March 14 – 3.14), and I just happened to have a stack of Pyrex pie pans handy, I thought I’d go ahead and try making my own custom Pi Pans.
I started by designing a logo in Illustrator. Well, that’s not quite right. I actually did an image search for “Pi”, saved a .bmp, and then TRACED it in Illustrator. Once in vector format, the image can be re-sized and have the stroke and fill colors changed, all non-destructively. When I was happy with the logo, I printed one out on plain paper. Then, I cut it out and taped it to the back of a pie pan. This gave me a real-world mock-up to make sure I liked what I had BEFORE going through the trouble of making a vinyl stencil and sandblasting.
Next, I exported my image as a .DXF file, and then opened it in Silhouette Studio, the software that runs the CNC vinyl cutter machine. In studio, I made sure the image was still scaled correctly, then positioned it where I wanted it on the 12″x12″ cutting area. The last thing I did before cutting was to FLIP the image. Since I would be sandblasting on the BACK of a glass pie pan, the image needs to be flipped so it is viewed correctly from the front.
The Silhouette Cameo cutter cuts out the pattern quickly and automatically, taking about a minute for the whole process.
I removed the vinyl, and cut it into quarters, as I was able to fit four stencils on a single page. I then peeled away the “Pi” logo, leaving the vinyl around it. This is because I am making a stencil. I want the sandblaster to hit the glass where the vinyl does NOT protect it. This will etch the shape of Pi and leave the glass around it clear.
I used transfer tape to place the Pi logo stencil on the back of the pie pan, and then removed the transfer tape. Next, I covered the rest of the back of the glass with regular masking tape. At this point, the pie pan is ready for sandblasting.
I put the pan into the blast cabinet and set the pressure regulator to about 70 PSI. Anywhere from 60-80 works pretty well. Higher pressure than that can start to cut into the vinyl. I simply held the pie pan in one hand and pointed the sandblaster gun at it with the other. It’s much like spray painting – just pull the trigger and try to give a nice even coat.
Once done sandblasting, I pulled the pan out of the cabinet and peeled away all the masking. Next, I washed it with soap and water in the utility tub and then dried it.
The finished effect turned out pretty well. The Pi is a very prominent white frosted character on a clear background. Most people catch the visual pun of “Pi Plate” right away.
Besides the Pi Plate, I also came up with “Apple Pi” and “Raspberry Pi” designs based on popular computer company logos. Both of those turned out very well.
By that time, I was starting to feel pretty confident in my stencil design and sandblasting skills, and I wanted to make a “Cherry Pi” logo, but realized that there is already a great pattern for that – the album art from Warrant’s 1990 album “Cherry Pie”.
I spend some time in the vector software painstakingly tracing the artwork into a simplified vector. Next, I made a cutting from vinyl. All of the fine lines were tricky to peel off with a pair of Xacto knives. Once I finally had the finished stencil applied to another pie pan, it was time to sandblast.
After that, I simply peeled off the masking to reveal my WARRANT CHERRY PIE pan. My wife’s birthday happens to be March 14th – Pi Day. She’s a fan of late 80’s/early 90’s rock, so gave her the CHERRY PIE pan (with a home-baked cherry pie in it) as a Pi Day/Birthday gift. She got a kick out of it.
How about you? Have you ever personalized some glassware through etching? A “Please return this pan to….” etching sounds like a good idea for pot-lucks! If you have done some etching, post a photo or link! Otherwise, send your ideas for other cool glass etching on up cycled kitchen-ware!
With a lot of hard work from Ed H. and Steve P. our 4′ x 8′ CNC router has achieved a milestone, instead of the X axis sitting on the ground it has taken a leap up and is now mounted, ready for the Y and Z axis to be mounted to it along with the electronics and motion control.
I am nearly done with a custom bracket for my Hitachi router that I will mount onto the end of our Kuka industrial robot arm. I cut everything out in foam first to check out the whole scheme and save wear and tear on the cutting bit.
The software chain I used to accomplish this was lengthy. I designed all of these pieces in 3D in Solidworks, created a Solidworks 2D drawing, saved that as an AutoCAD drawing, brought that drawing into Vectric’s Aspire, then created machine code that the Makerspace CNC router used to cut the pieces from a sheet of foam.
Finally, once I was satisfied that everything would cut correctly, I switched to 3/4″ thick Baltic Birch plywood. This is a “nicer” grade of plywood than the stuff that is used in day-to-day building construction work. This wood is stronger by virtue of a greater number of plies, and it also looks nicer. I happened to have a sheet left-over from a previous project, so it was all good!
The idea was simple: make something to help keep track of our supplies so we know when we’re running low on the essentials. After weeks of kicking the idea around and various rough doodles, this project finally took shape. Two days after the first cut on the laser cutter, it was complete.
Made from multiple layers of acrylic, cardboard, and wood, the “Milwaukee Makerspace Consumables Super Analog Status Board” is a clipboard-sized device with nine sliders installed in enclosed slots. Sliding the tabs right displays more green to indicate “full” or “lots” and sliding left reveals the red acrylic below to indicate “empty” or “low.” The user can carry the board around the Space with them as they check on supplies and when done, a large hole centered at the top allows the board to be hung up and displayed on a wall.
The hardware holding the whole thing together can be loosened and the layers disassembled. The cardboard insert that the text resides on can be swapped out should we decide to change the list of items we want to keep tabs on. The supplies being tracked currently include:
A digital version may or may not be planned for future release.
After a year’s work designing, building, scrapping, redesigning, building, and working through software and firmware issues, the MegaMax 3D printer is now functional. It has some common 3D printing issues like printed objects peeling up off the glass printbed. Tweaked settings in Slic3r, ABS “juice”, and Aquanet hairspray have all been tested with moderate success in attempts to improve adhesion to the printbed. Finally, have_blue gave me a block of foam out of the Stratasys printer to try out and it seems to work better than the other methods and doesn’t require heating the bed! Further experiments to be conducted post-haste.
Hopefully, we can use this as a backdrop for events like the Art Jamboree.
I’ve been toying with the idea of room dividers for a while now. I don’t exactly have use for one, but I think they look neat and it’s basically a blank canvas. Drawing inspiration from my Clockwork Boxes, I decided that a gear motif would best suit the makerspace, thus giving me a new use for the piece: as a backdrop at events we participate in such as Art Jamboree and the various Maker Faires.
There are 3 of us in this photo. Really.
The actual screens were cut out with a large-scale CNC router, while the frame was ripped from 2×4′s, with a dado groove down the center for the screen to slip into. Thanks, Jason H.!!
Assembly went well, although there were a few hiccups. The drill bit wasn’t long enough, so some minor splitting occurred at a couple of spots. The frame was slightly warped and so needed to be clamped and glued before being screwed together.
After allowing the paint to dry overnight, myself, Matt W., and Jason H. assembled this thing just prior to heading to the Art Jamboree at the Hilton in Milwaukee.
I’ve updated Robert Indiana’s iconic sculpture “LOVE” for our times! While “Love” may have been an appropriate sentiment from 1964 to 1970 when the 2D and 3D versions were made, I think that the revised text is more appropriate for the 2000′s and 2010′s. Fear is 8” tall and 4” deep, and while not a monumental outdoor sculpture, FEAR appears fairly sizable on a table top.
Fear, which is solid aluminum and weighs over 7 lbs, was cast last Thursday with quite a few other pieces. The great thing about having an aluminum foundry at the Makerspace is that the whole thing cost about $7! - $4 for propane, $1 for Styrofoam, and $3 for some Rotozip bits. If FEAR were cast in bronze, it would weigh over 20 lbs, which would cost $200 for the metal alone. As it is, we melted down old heat sinks, stock cutoffs and hard drive frames, so the metal is essentially free.
In the spirit of Indiana who made his own font, I drew FEAR up in Inkscape using Georgia Bold, but I increased the height of the Serifs a bit. Shane helped me with the file manipulation and G-code generation (Thanks!), so I could use the CNC router to cut FEAR out of styrofoam. I exported FEAR’s hairline thickness outline as .dxf so it I could bring it into CamBam to generate the G-code. The outer contour of FEAR was selected, and the following settings were chosen:
Feedrates -> Cut Feedrate -> 300 (inches per second)
Options -> Roughing/Finishing -> Finishing
Tool -> Tool Diameter -> 0.125 (inches)
Tool -> Tool Profile -> End Mill
Identical settings were chosen for the inner contours of FEAR, with the exception of General -> Name -> Inside. Then, I just selected “Generate G-code.” Check out the real-time video of Makerspace CNC router running the G-code and cutting out the 1” thick Styrofoam (Owens Corning Foamular 150).
After cutting four 1” thick pieces, they were stacked and glued together. I buried the foam FEAR in petrobond, and then attached Styrofoam sprues and vents. For a more complete explanation of the quick lost-styrofoam casting process, check out this post. Stay tuned for details of our next Aluminum pour, which will be in January in the New Milwaukee Makerspace!
The video shows the last few layers of the calibration cube “printing” at 414% speed (according to my LCD display).
The Bucketworks 3D printing meet-up on 8/12 paid off big-time! Gary Kramlich helped me debug a problem that was preventing me from flashing the firmware on the controller board for the MegaMax 3D printer. After a few tweaks I was able to get it moving.
I have been a member here at the Milwaukee Makerspace for about 15 months now. One of my favorite things to do here is machine architectural reliefs from foam. I studied architectural history extensively at UWM, so I have a lot of influences to draw from.
The first piece I did was 3/8″ deep, since that’s the bit we had at MMS. I first tried a piece with all flat surfaces. It turned out very well, so I tried another piece that has slanted roof surfaces; again, success, so then I did some searching and found a 1/2″ deep milling bit. I did several pieces “on a theme”, taking the first one and making slight modifications. All of these designs are my own creations, I just daydream and think them up.
I have found that I can get 1/64″ details on these pieces. I have recently started using 1″ deep bits, and the results are fantastic! The best part is that the foam is really cheep-cheep-cheep, $25 for a big sheet at Home Depot!
My process is:
1) design in Solidworks (CAD)
2) Export to .STL file format
3) Import into Cut3D, where I generate G-Code
4) Load into Mach 3, the software that controls the CNC router.
5) Let the foam fly!
I started out on the MMS router, which uses leadscrews; my newer Zenbot machine uses belts, and is blazing fast. I can now machine 8 times faster! The largest piece shown here went from about 19 hours down to 2.5 hours.
My next challenge is to get small lines onto my pieces that will represent bricks/mortar, etc. I’ll have to generate different code for that; the milling code runs in 3d, but the “bricklines” will need to be in 2d, so I’m looking forward to that challenge. I’ll be using Vectric’s “Aspire” software for that. More to come!
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