Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Coonskin Signage

These were made on my home made HB2 CNC router using 
Vectric Aspire software and a few other computer control programs.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Future Fabrications

Here's an unusual take on how we might build things in the future: The subversive Danish creative collective known as N55's Spaceplates. The idea is that we would have the proverbial shit-ton of sheet goods delivered to our home, and we'd break out a domestic CNC, download some plans and have it start carving up modular units that we'd then put together.

N55 in collaboration with Anne Romme and Sam Kronick are prototyping a new building system called SPACEPLATES based on the geometry found in animal shells like the sea urchin. Its a low cost way of creating approximated double curved surfaces in a statically well defined way, minimizing the material use. When the system is ready, persons should be able to " print out" a SPACEPLATES construction ( a home, a greenhouse or a larger communal building), using materials like PC or aluminum and a CNC- router. (Even a small table version- cnc router will work).

CNC / CAD /CAM links

Pixels in Plywood

A Finland-based artist going by the name of "Tomi" has created pixel art using an MDF-based CNC router to drill holes of different depths into stained plywood. The resultant halftone images take about an hour to produce and contain roughly 3,000 "pixels:"

Tomi is part of the DIY CNC movement, and if you're curious to see pictures and details of both his work and the machine's set-up, you can check both out here.


Ok, so it's actually just a combination of a wall-sized CNC-routed halftone and a climbing wall—a scaled-down scalable surface, but it's a noteworthy DIY project nonetheless. For $200 and "not more than a day" of savoir-faire, 3-axis routing and elbow-grease designer Christoph Schindler (half of Zurich-based "furniture architecture" firm Schindler Salmeró) built the "Fitz Roy Climbing Wall" as a birthday gift for his son.
We used a 2500 x 1250 x 15 mm plywood-board and painted it. The hole pattern for the image and the holes for the climbing holds were drilled with an old CNC 3-axis-router. Although the pattern looks complex, there was no scripting involved and everything was prepared with standard software tools.

For those of you who have said resources, Schindler's provided detailed instructions of the entire process:
First we selected a nice image, in our case we decided for an image of Fitz Roy in Patagonia. Then we created a surface with the "heightfield from image"-operation in Rhino, choosing a height of 3mm (see below). The milling is done with "Plunge Roughing," a standard CAM operation. In Plunge Roughing, the tool makes a series of plunges to remove cylindrical plugs of material. To get our pattern, we chose for an usual large distance of the plunges. The selected tool is a 6 mm-Ballnose-Tool. To use the radius of the ballnose for different hole diameters, the height difference of the surface equals the radius of the tool (this is were the 3mm come from). If the paint is applied before milling, the holes and the white background contrast sharply.
 After this operation, the triangular grid of holes for the climbing holds are prepared, as well with the router. Then the plywood is turned and the T-nuts are fixed with a hammer... we have a total of 97 holes and started with a set of 15 climbing holds. The position of the holds can be altered any time and there are enough T-nuts to get more holds or fix other gear like a rope.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Profiled metals for marine customers

Independent multi-metal stockholder Aalco can also offers customers in the marine industry a full profiling service using a 3-axis CNC router.
Aalco stocks an extensive inventory of aluminium, stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze and nickel alloys in all semi-finished forms covering a wide range of grades/alloys, shapes and sizes - both industry standards and special or bespoke items for particular applications or individual requirements.
The Aalco service offer to the marine industry is further enhanced by a 'MultiCam' 3 Axis CNC Profiling Router, complete with a 9m x 2.44m vacuum table, which is installed at the Southampton Service Centre. This gives Aalco the capability to offer customers, commercial suppliers, boat builders & subcontractors a full profiling service using the latest CNC technology. Aluminium bespoke components can be profiled to customers’ drawings & supplied as single parts or in kit form. Components can be engraved with identification marks and datum lines for ease of manufacture.
Jeremy Chase, Product Development Manager for the CNC Profiling Centre comments;
“I have worked in the marine industry for 34 years and as a previous customer, had always been impressed by Aalco’s ability and willingness to work with customers as a key part of the supply chain”
“Now that I have had the opportunity to move to the supply-side I am able to bring knowledge and experience from a customer perspective to make the best metals supply service even better”
To reinforce the company’s ability to service the marine industry, Aalco stocks 9000 x 2000 and 6000 x 2000 Dual Certified 5083-O LRS/DNV 3.2 and also 5083 H321 DNV 3.2 material in various gauges.
Aalco provides customers with a cost-effective single source for all their metals requirements, together with a comprehensive processing service which includes polishing, coating, blanking and 'cut to length'
Marine industry customers include the MOD, commercial shipbuilders, repair yards and the rapidly expanding offshore energy generating industry.

Android CNC controller

[Matt] is the proud owner of a JGRO-based CNC router and he’s been working on a way to control it without a computer. What he came up with is a way to drive the CNC machine using this Android tablet.

A big part of the hack is the CNC controller that he’s using. The TinyG is a board that can take commands via USB and convert them to instructions for up to six axes. In the video after the break [Matt] shows off a direct USB connection as the control method. This is the most interesting part to us, but the system can also be run through the network with the assistance of a computer feeding commands to the TinyG. This second method means the Android controller would be wireless.

A trio of repositories host the code [Matt] is using. From the demo it looks like the Android app has no shortage of features.

Friday, June 1, 2012

CNC Router can build a house

If it’s true that those with the biggest toys win, a few lucky engineers over at EEW Maschinenbau in Germany just earned a gold medal; they have access to a gigantic CNC machine that is large enough to machine a house.

This machine was originally built to manufacture molds for fiberglass wind turbines that are over 50 meters in length. Because building a 50-meter-long CNC machine wasn’t overkill enough, engineers at EEW Maschinenbau settled on a design that is 151 meters long, or almost 500 feet. Of course the HSM-Modal, as this machine is called, can only make parts 151 meters long in the x dimension. The y-axis has a span of 9 meters while the z-axis goes from 0 to 4.25 meters off the ground. Large enough to build cars, ship hulls, and even houses out of a single block of material.

There’s a bunch of technical documentation on the EEW website and a PDF going over the specs. Not only can this gigantic mill machine molds much like an embiggened desktop CNC router, this thing can do drilling, sawing, grinding, plasma cutting, and even extrusion just like a Makerbot.

If you’ve got the cash, EEW Maschinenbau will build you one of these gigantic machines. We can’t imagine how much that would cost, though.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rocking Chair for two

I’m sure a rocking chair is not what you’d expect to see from a technology program. But Chairish, Annelie Berner’s rocking chair for two is the work product for a class called Design for Digital Fabrication. Using CAD software, Annelie went through many design and prototyping iterations. Eventually, she cut the design out of plywood with a computer-controlled (CNC) router. The pieces are held together with threaded rod and nuts to make a chair for sharing.

Sign board

Visitors to the ITP spring show were greeted by a sign designed by Trent Rohner.

CNC / CAD /CAM links

CNC Router carved wall panel

CNC Router carved wall panel designed in ArtCAM

Bamboo magazine rack

Bamboo magazine rack created by ArtCAM Express competition winner, Youseff Benzaoui

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A custom designed lithopane lamp with a rotating shade

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cup Holders

Cup holders from Advanced Wood Production Class. Both pieces were cut by a CNC Router from a 2'x 4' piece of wood and fit together without any glue or fasteners. The cup holders are designed to easily fit a beer bottle, those red plastic cups or  glasses.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Technology challenges the master violinmaker

Most people consider Italian violinmaker Antonio Stradivari the greatest violinmaker of all time. He’s getting some competition from technology. Today, on Engineering Works!.
A team of modern violinmakers and a doctor is using technology the 18th-century luthier never dreamed of to measure and duplicate – almost exactly – violins built by the master.
The doctor, a radiologist, or specialist in medical imaging, also is an amateur violinist. He came up the idea of using computed tomography, or CT, imaging to get exact three-D images of one of the 500 or so Stradivari violins that have survived to today. The CT scan produced more than 1,000 images of the 300-year-old violin.
Then they converted the CT images to computer files that programmed a computer numerically controlled, or CNC, router. The
CNC router is a machine tool that can shape new violin parts to almost exactly the dimensions of the originals. The scans also show the density of the wood in individual parts. This allows modern violin makers to use different woods to match the density of the original. The newly made parts seem to match the originals.
One of the best things about this approach is that the original instruments aren’t disassembled or damaged. The researchers say the imaging is so detailed that it could also be used to identify individual instruments and track repairs to them over the years since Stradivari made them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

CNC Router Cut CD Ninja Stars

Behold, the CNC cut CD ninja star!  At one point I believed I had invented the CD ninja star, but a quick search of Google proved me very wrong.  As far as I can tell though, this is the first one that is cut with a CNC router, so maybe that’s something.

The picture to the right is, unfortunately, a result of placement, not the actual star sticking in the dartboard after a throw.  Not that this wasn’t attempted.  The shuriken in the upper left was a result of one of the points breaking off.
Not the sturdiest weapon in the world.  After cutting off another point to make it symmetric, it’s flight is still impressive if incredibly random.  I tested it out in the house (not recommended) where it arced around a wall nearly poking my wife in the eye.
Cutting was done with an engraving bit from ZTW at a depth of cut of .010″ per pass.  I didn’t offset anything, but just drew it and cut as an engraving.  The CD was fixtured the same way as the last HDD clock that I did, but one difference was that the zero of the X and Y axes were on the edges (shown by the green and red lines in the CAMBam picture after the break), not the center.  This allowed me to line everything up based on an edge instead of estimating the center of it.
It seems that things cut much better if started from the side with a picture.  Things seemed to delaminate from the other side, but this could also be a result of using an industrially-written CD instead of writeable media.

Mold cutting using cnc router

George Leone, Student Project Facilitator at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA, recently sent us pictures of a project that students from the Human Powered Vehicle Club designed for the ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge. The human powered vehicles have been known to reach speeds of approximately 55 mph.

 Precision Board Plus PBLT-6 mold being routed

After testing the sheet-metal prototype, a mold was cut from Precision Board Plus PBLT-6 using their “hot-rodded” ShopBot CNC router.  They then vacuum-bagged the molds for the bodies using a room-temp cure system. The molds were coated with Duratec for an ultra-smooth surface. Once finished, the Carbon/Kevlar bodies were fitted over a composite or Chrome-Moly frame.
The bikes are 100% built by students unless the technology is WAY beyond the capabilities or ingenuity at Cal Poly. This is also an all-volunteer club, and students do not earn credits for participation.
George has been working with composites for over thirty years. He enjoys working with Precision Board Plus because “it allows students to take their vision and turn it into reality quickly and easily, whether they are using Surform files and sandpaper or a CNC router. It’s low-dust, green chemistry composition coupled with its favorable carbon balance and renewable resource content appeal to the stewardship concerns of our 21st century engineers in training.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Incredible CNC milled columns designed with Processing

These astoundingly intricate columns by Michael Hansmeyer were designed in Processing using a subdivision process before being CNC milled slice by slice from 1mm ABS plastic. Yes, I did say 1mm.
As you might imagine, this means that each column has an enormous number of layers, 2700 in fact. Each column has a core of wood and iron to keep all those layers in place and support what must be significant weight.

Creating long-range wifi links with CNC cut

This project was designed to provide WiFi to small communities in Afghanistan and Kenya using off-the-shelf wireless routers for a total cost of $60 per unit. While the design was originally intended to be made with CNC routing, the locals quickly started making more by hand.

Wonderful onion dome structures — the Zome

Rob Bell, a maker with a professional background in software development has creates interesting temporary structures with Sketchup Pro and a Shopbot CNC Router. His clever joinery details allow the structures to be assembled without the use of tools.
More images and video after the jump…

Bell demonstrates the usefulness of code when designing. To save time creating geometric forms, he makes Ruby scripts to generate the geometry. He has released several scripts including Zome Builder for Sketchup.
Emphasis on testing ideas is key to how Bell designs, he suggests to “Start small and make small prototypes so you don’t waste your time, material or your money.”

Bell has some encouraging advice for people who are makers in other fields – “The type of skills and thinking that make someone a good software engineer are the same skills that make a solid craftsman, designer and builder.”

Brilliant new multi-material desks from Because We Can

With wood, resin, CNC tools and Talent, Oakland’s incredible furniture studio Because We Can turns out another masterpiece.

 I’ve been a fan of Because We Can for a long time, so much so that I filmed an interview about their work and philosophy. They’re incredibly open about their business model, methods, and techniques. They’ve even given free lectures on how to follow in their footsteps.

Their latest project is a set of interlocked swiveling tables for a San Fransisco home and I have to say I’m astounded. They’re made from wood and aluminum sheets routed on a ShopBot. The real brilliant part comes in how they’ve etched the surface of the table tops using an engraving bit, and then filled the resulting voids with contrasting resin. The finished table is, I think you’ll agree, stunning. 
They’ve also made a short film about the production of the piece.

CNC routing helps surfing become more sustainable

In a sport that is highly attuned to the rhythms of nature, Mike Grobelny’s Clean Waves design is making ripples toward a greener future.
Typical surfboards contain resins, polyurethane foams and fibreglass, none of which are easy to breakdown or reuse once the resin has cured. However not Clean Waves…
Completed as part of a student project at Auckland’s AUT, product design graduate Mike Grobelny’s board is an uncompromising design and has already caught the attention of many in design circles. Grobelny is a finalist in the Best Awards, the New Zealand design awards, a finalist in the IDEA international design awards competition, and was recently featured in idealog, a NZ business, design and innovation magazine.

Adhering to the cradle to cradle approach of product life cycle design has ensured the consideration of every aspect of the board’s impact on the environment. The design called for the close scrutiny of timber. Grobelny settled on bamboo and paulownia – selected for their fast growth rate and thus suitable for sustainable management. Minimizing the impact and achieving a green board included even the lacquer finish which is biodegradable.
The hexagonal pattern was CNC routed into the timber – increases buoyancy and reduces weight, but maintains the structural rigidity important for carving up waves.

Grobelny’s timelapse design process and use of CNC routing on dual sided compound curved surfaces.A jig is used to hold the milled side in place while the router mills out the opposite face.

Giant CNC’d Scrabble

I suspect this was cut out at MITers or the ShopBot in the basement of the Media Lab, but my knowledge of the MIT CNC machines isn’t as extensive as it once was. There is pretty much unlimited coolness that can be achieved with a giant computer controlled wood router ready to do your bidding.
I also think someone laid the word RAZED on a triple word score for a total of 43 points. Not too shabby.

CNC Routing

Overshadowed somewhat in recent years by laser cutting and 3D printing, CNC routing remains a fabrication technology with enormous potential. It can be used with more materials than 3D printing and creates 3D shapes more easily than laser cutting. These ten examples show this technique at its best.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Beautiful Sign in a Beautiful Location

The designers and fabricators at Sign Design and Fabrication of Dahlonega, GA are true artisans that take great pride in delivering a sign to their clients that both delights and helps the register ring! Their work can be found all over the country, including the Aloha state.

Faux Mahogany and Ash Finish Applied to Precision Board Plus

SD&F was asked to design his sign, inspired by the popular 1970′s police drama named in honor of Hawaii’s status as the 50th state. Originally, the design called for the sign to be constructed of solid Mahogany and Ash, but that proved to be cost prohibitive and these materials are becoming increasingly hard to find. Instead, Wade Parker and his crew chose the superior machining characteristics of Precision Board Plus along with a faux finish to create genuine look of fine wood they were going for.

Sign Artist David Weeks took inspiration from the image of the iconic cresting wave featured at the beginning of each episode of the long-running TV program. “Using Precision Board Plus, we split the sign into three components”, says Wade. “The top level was CNC routed in 1″ Precision Board Plus and rounded off with a quarter round bit. Both this level and the 1.5″ thick oval backboard were primed and faux finished by our artists to look like real wood. This assembly was then mounted to a custom bracket we designed. The top half of the bracket in 2″ Precision Board Plus was permanently attached to the back of the display”.

To complete the effect of the sign, which now hangs in a dimly lit lounge on the Big Island, SD&F installed LED lighting around the back perimeter. Wade and his crew at Sign Design and Fabrication take pride in offering a variety of in-house services including sandblasted signs in high density urethane (HDU) and wood, CNC v-groove routed signs, custom business logo and lobby style displays, sign shields, awards and plaques, and custom architectural monument signs. Check out their website and portfolio at