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Steampunk Deathstar - Dingbat
November 12th, 2012
08:01 pm

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Steampunk Deathstar

Just playing around with my laser cutter.

Design is by Crab at Thingiverse

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(18 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:girfan
Date:November 12th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
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That is very cool! How large is it?
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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
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About the size of your head. It's made from a couple of square feet of 3mm MDF, but nearly all of it's cut away. The thin bits are only about a mm wide.
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From:petrichor_1
Date:November 12th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
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That's lovely! How does it work then? (i've never actually met a laser printer) - you see a design free on the internet that you like, pick a laserable substance slightly bigger than your design, and just press go and sit back whilst it death-stars before you? Or is there (as i suspect) slightly more work involved than that?

Also, have you tried the little mini sandbeast that they printed out on qi? That was fab.
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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
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This is a 2D laser cutter, not a 3D printer. You feed it sheets of something (mostly wood or plastic) and it slices them into flat pieces. Then you can assemble the pieces.

I've been uploading pics on facebook and I've stuck a few of them here too
http://codesmiths.com/dingbat/lj/201211%20laser/

This sphere is confusing because it's 3D, and the wood is turned sideways. The snowflakes are a bit more obvious.
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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
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Installing the Epilog Legend 36 EXT laser cutter in my laser workroom

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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
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Cutting in progress


A sheet of cut snowflakes


Chads left behind after you lift away the useful bit


Finished snowflakes

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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Joe 90's christmas ornament. C-shaped pieces glued radially into a toothed wheel.



Pieces for the big girder sphere.

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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
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Laser cut wood is pretty common these days, so you'll have seen plenty of it, even if you didn't realise. The burned edges are a giveaway.

The girder sphere is a weird thing. The pieces are cut flat, but because they're cut so thin, thinner than the sheet thickness, they barely look like they're laser cut and more like they're moulded. The finished sphere hasn't been painted at all, those brown "surfaces" are actually the cut edges.
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From:quercus
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:49 pm (UTC)
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There's a web site called Thingiverse out there, where people upload their own designs. They're freely (mostly) licensed under GPL or Creative Commons licences, so you can download the designs and use or extend them yourself.

Mostly I need to do the legwork and do my own design work, but at the moment I'm just getting the hang of how to work the machine.
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From:petrichor_1
Date:November 12th, 2012 11:49 pm (UTC)
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Ah, yes - i do know the difference, honestly, but for some reason my brain inserted '3D printer' over what you'd said when it saw the 3D shape.
This is totally great, and if i had any money at all it would be very wanty indeed...

p.s i like the ghosts of snowflakes past that are left behind
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From:quercus
Date:November 13th, 2012 01:10 am (UTC)
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They're quite spendy. I didn't spend the new price for my machine, but it's due a regular tube service and even that is a couple of grand. It's much better (much!) than the cheap Chinese machines that are around though. I want to make a business out of this.

If you've anything you'd like cutting...
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From:quercus
Date:November 13th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
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Oh, and I want a 3D printer too, but production of those has been delayed after Hurricane Sandy and I've too many geek toys at present to find time to work out how to use them.
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From:petrichor_1
Date:November 13th, 2012 07:06 am (UTC)
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What's the limitations on the substances you can cut? I see lasered paper everywhere at the moment, but If it leaves scorch marks on wood, does that mean it's a more powerful version than the type used for paper? Or can you tone it down to sculpt from chocolate? Would it cut metal, and if so how thick? (Thick enough to cut a weather vane for instance?) sorry, hope you don't mind the questions, i'm fascinated.
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From:quercus
Date:November 13th, 2012 12:31 pm (UTC)
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It cuts by burning, so you need stuff that burns. Without exploding or killing you.

Wood. MDF is great, so is plywood. Solid timber will engrave, but it's a bit directional for cutting. Tends to smoulder lengthways.

Plastics. Lots of plastics. Perspex is really nice - the edges come off flame-polished. I'm doing sparkly Christmas ornaments in clear and mirrored (Cardiff steampunk Christmas market - we'll be there as Atelier Fabry-Pérot). It won't do cheap white UPVC though, because the fumes (hydrochloric acid, with a dash of dioxins) would trash the machine.

Paper. I've already made animated greetings cards and business cards. Coloured paper hides the scorching, but good quality paper (mineral filler, not much cellulose) and careful settings can give a clean cut too.

Metals it won't do. They can be lasered, but those are bigger machines. I can write on metals though - anodised aluminium (silver through the coloured anodise) or on stainless, by fusing on an enamel marking paint.

Glass and stone can be surface engraved.

Leather. Oh yes. Steampunk LARPwear. We went to TORM at the weekend just to shop for leather stock.

Chocolate is probably a job for a 3D printer (yes, people are doing this). I can do personalised Laser Toast though.

Last time I did weather vanes, I used a plasma cutter on steel. Worked very nicely and I made an Irish Setter, with lots of feathery tail detail. Plasma cutting is often easier and quicker if you first made a plywood or MDF stencil. I can laser those stencils pretty easily, so it's an easier route from CAD to steel.
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From:petrichor_1
Date:November 13th, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm...interesting. Wonder if you could make an art deco style lampshade by cutting six filligree panels to slot together with coloured glass behind? But mdf would warp after a bit, so probably not suitable. Will think on.

Plasma free hand cutting? Or do you program a plasma cutter? And where can you hire plasma cutting time? (Not seriously after, just wondering.)

On a completely separate subject, i don't suppose you'd know where I could get a flat square of metal somewhere between 9-11"? I have made a magnetic chessboard and need a board.
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From:quercus
Date:November 14th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
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Yes. You could do MDF, you could do steel, you could do copper. Bristol is full of coloured glass - two places sell glassworking supplies, and I've a friend underneath St Nicks Market who makes panels.

MDF would last OK, especially if you used Valchromat (posh MDF) instead. Brace the panels against each other and it wouldn't warp. I even discovered "Outdoor MDF" last week (guaranteed 20 years!), but the price is crazy money.

Plasma cutters are usually hand-held, but there are big CNC ones in factories. jarkman has one, that's the one I use. Helpful chap, lives up the Valleys, and is generous with visitors who aspire to slaughtering bulk steel. We haven't tried the laser cutter / MDF stencil / plasma combo yet.

Steel is easier to get than it is to cut to size. Old fridges or kitchen white goods are a favourite, and they're ready painted. Otherwise plasma it, next time you're over in the West. 8-)
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From:zornhau
Date:November 12th, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Ooo. Amazing!
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From:valkeerie
Date:November 13th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)
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Impressed (I'm referring to my emotional state, not the technology you are employing).
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