Why don’t you just die.

As I am finalizing my MagneTag prototype for a small production run, I have been looking into efficient ways to cut fabric.  Right now I trace by hand and and cut with scissors.  I’m currently thinking I may want to make several hundred of these initial units.

With that in mind I am going to try die cutting my design with a shop press.  Since I’m not exactly sure what my final product will look like aesthetically, I am reluctant to shell out a lot of money to have a die professionally fabricated. What’s the fun in that?  I figured I would try my hand at a home brew hacked version.

I laser etched my design into two different substrates: wood and acrylic.  Then a took an old rusty bandsaw blade and hammered it teeth down into the laser kerf.   Then I took a Dremmel and ground a sharp edge into the steel.

An initial test on a manual hydraulic press gave mixed results.  The wood is too soft to keep the blade from becoming embedded; the steel needs to pass all the way through the substrate.  The acrylic seemed to work better, and surprisingly did not break when I tried to use it.

There is still lots of room for improvement, but I’m pretty happy with this first attempt.

DIY Bandsaw Blade Cutting Dies.

DIY Bandsaw Blade Cutting Dies.

Gettin' my grind on.

Gettin’ my grind on.

P.S. This is the 500th post on this blog!

Arduino Programmer Shield

I gotta say I’m pretty proud of my design for a custom programmer shield.  The images below show the Arduino, programmer shield, and a target board (ATTINY85).  I made the boards using the laser cutter method (which you can find videos of on this site somehow).  The target boards slip right into the header pins I bent up for the purpose.   Makes a really handy programming and testing jig!





Belt Made from Raw Metal, Leather, Fire, and Light.

I have to say there are not many things that make me feel better than making something that I am really proud of.  A lot my time at Milwaukee Makerspace is spent lamenting the malfunction of my latest prototype, so I’m in a good mood today.   The belt pictured below was made completely from scratch using technology.  Some of it old, some of it new.  The buckle was drawn up in Sketchup by importing one of those “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters from WWII (Screenshot below).  The CAD drawing was converted to GCODE and fed into one of the Makerspace’s awesome CNC routers.  Using a tiny tiny bit, you can route out a pretty detailed design in carving wax.  The wax buckle was then sand casted into white bronze thanks to Frank (our Makership recipient), who taught us how to do it.  It is noted that the Makerspace if fully equipped to do spin casting with investment, and I tried my best to make it work but failed twice.  I have not given up though, for failure is the path to success.  The casting came out great.  It looked like some medallion from a sunken pirate ship.  It wasn’t until we decided that a pendant of that size would only look good on Flava Flav, that this casting became destined for beltitude.   The last step was to take some scrap metal around the shop and some solder and braise the functional pieces to the cleaned up buckle.

It is common knowledge that The Little Prince is a book densely filled with universal wisdom, written in prose a child can grasp.  Both XiaoQian and I are quite fond of the characters, so we chose to decorate the belt with quotes and animations from the story.  To do this we harnessed the deepest secrets of quantum mechanics to cause a population inversion in an inert gas in order to coerce 25 Watts of coherent light from the atoms.  In other words we laser cut some leather that was lying around, which worked much better than it did even in my imagination.

In the end we have a meaningful and personalized accessory, made with the tools, materials, and people from Milwaukee Makerspace.