Defocused Laser Welding Fabric Proves There’s Many Ways To Slice It

Laser cutters are certainly a Hackerspace staple for cutting fabrics in some circles. But for the few fabrics derived from non-woven plastics, why not try fusing them together? That’s exactly what [Dries] did, and with some calibration, the result is a speedy means of seaming together two fabrics–no needles necessary!

The materials used here are non-woven goods often used in disposable PPE like face masks, disposable aprons, and shoe coverings. The common tool used to fuse non-woven fabrics at the seams is an ultrasonic welder. This is not as common in the hackerspace tool room, but laser cutters may be a suitable stand-in.

Getting the machine into a production mode of simply cranking out clothes took some work. Through numerous sample runs, [Dries] found that defocusing the laser to a spot size of 1.5mm at low power settings makes for a perfect threadless seam. The resulting test pockets are quite capable of taking a bit of hand abuse before tearing. Best of all, the fused fabrics can simply be cut out with another pass of the laser cutter. For fixtures, [Dries] started with small tests by stretching the two fabrics tightly over each other but suggests fixtures that can be pressed for larger patterns.

It’s great to see laser-cutters doubled-up as both the “glue” and “scissors” in a textile project. Once we get a handle on lasering our own set of scrubs, why not add some inflatables into the mix?

Vinyl Cutter Migrates From Scrapbooks To Gaskets

We know it all too well: another smoothly-operating night in the garage easily halted by a broken component. In the late hours of the night, no hardware store will open its doors. And while waiting may reward the patient, creativity may reward those who act now. That’s exactly where [Justin] found himself one evening: with a torn gasket. Not to be dismayed, he turned to his fiancee [Amy] and the two of them managed to design and cut a perfectly fitting replacement gasket on [Amy’s] vinyl cutter in a  mere matter of minutes.

In the video after the break, the two step us through their process in detail. By starting with an image of the existing gasket, they capture a reference image. Some light work in photoshop cleans up everything except the resulting gasket they’re looking for. Finally, sizing “by eye” in the vinyl cutter’s software after measuring an existing dimension gives them sufficient precision to remake a duplicate gasket that’s eye-for-eye indistiguishable from the original.

It seems like we often hear about vinyl-cut gaskets in passing or in the comments, but it’s great to see a team post such a fabulous success story putting them to good use. And in case a plain old’ vinyl cutter blade wont do the trick, why not try running it at ultrasonic speeds?

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Turn By Wire Is A Machinist’s Sixth Sense

It’s hard not to be a little intimidated by the squeaks and whirs that come with your first journey into a machine shop. Here, skilled machinists pilot giant hunks of cast iron that turn metals into piles of chips to yield beautiful parts. But what if machine tools themselves didn’t have to seem so scary. What if using them could feel a bit more intuitive, even, dare we say, natural from the get-go?

Enter Turn by Wire, a unique set of force feedback and machine control concepts applied to a lathe brought to you by researchers [Rundong Tian], [Vedant Saran], [Mareike Kritzler], [Florian Michahelles], and [Eric Paulos] at Berkelely.

Turn by Wire vastly reimagines the relationship between a user’s control inputs and the machine outputs in two ways: (1) by changing the mapping between the hand cranks and machine movements and (2) by changing the haptic feedback felt by the machinist. Since both of these interactions can be defined programmatically, the researchers created three unique ways of interacting with the lathe. First, by defining a tool path in the graphic user interface (GUI), the machinist can use a single hand crank to step forward and back in time along that toolpath. Second, by applying virtual guidelines in the GUI, both the machine and the hand cranks will physically snap to the guide lines when they are sufficiently close. Finally, the hand cranks can be used to teach the machinist a technique by adding resistive forces into the hand cranks depending on movement while a machinist is stepping through a process like peck drilling.

This is a great example of [Tom Knight’s] “just wrap a computer around it!” as mentioned by [Bunnie Huang] when we featured the IQ Motor Modules. It’s a powerful example of how putting a computer between the controls and the machine can correct for real world imperfections, be they in the mechanics of the machine of the operator. For the curious, have a look at [Rundong’s] paper published at UIST and [Vedant’s] master’s thesis.

 

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Tangential Oscillating Cutting Knife Makes Parts From The Ups And Downs

If you thought using a utility knife manually was such a drag, you’re not alone. [luben111] took some initiative to take the wear and tear off your hands and put it into a custom machine tool they call TOCK, or Tangental Oscillating Cutting Knife. TOCK bolts onto your typical CNC router, giving it the ability to make short work of thin materials like cardboard. Rather than apply a constant downward pressure, however, TOCK oscillates vertically at high speeds, perforating the material while cutting through it at a respectable clip.

TOCK’s oscillations are driven by a radially symmetric cam mechanism, allowing the blade to completely pivot full circle while still performing the oscillations. While traditional inexpensive methods for bolting a blade to a CNC machine passively swivel along the path they’re directed, [luben111] has taken the generous extra step of powering that axis, commanding the blade to actively rotate in the cutting director with a custom script that converts PLT files to G-code. The net result is a tool that preserves a tremendous amount of detail in cumbersome thick materials, like cardboard. Best of all, the entire setup is documented on the Thingiverse with CAD files and light instructions. A few folks have even gone so far as to reproduce their own!

It’s great to see some dabbling in various disciplines to produce a working machine tool. As far as knives go, we’re starting to see a good spread of other utility knife augmentations and use cases, whether that’s a traditional CNC retrofit or a solid attempt at a homebrew ultrasonic mod.

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Jubilee: A Toolchanging Homage To 3D Printer Hackers Everywhere

I admit that I’m late to the 3D printing game. While I just picked up my first printer in 2018, the rest of us have been oozing out beautiful prints for over a decade. And in that time we’ve seen many people reimagine the hardware for mischief besides just printing plastic. That decade of hacks got me thinking: what if the killer-app of 3D printing isn’t the printing? What if it’s programmable motion? With that, I wondered: what if we had a machine that just offered us motion capabilities? What if extending those motion capabilities was a first class feature? What if we had a machine that was meant to be hacked?

One year later, I am thrilled to release an open-source multitool motion platform I call Jubilee. For a world that’s hungry for toolchanging 3D printers, Jubilee might be the best toolchanging 3D printer you can build yourself–with nothing more than a set of hand tools and some patience. But it doesn’t stop there. With a standardized tool pattern established by E3D and a kinematically coupled hot-swappable bed, Jubilee is rigged to be extended by anyone looking to harness its programmable motion capabilities for some ad hoc automation.

Jubilee is my homage to you, the 3D printer hacker; but it’s meant to serve the open-source community at large. Around the world, scientists, artists, and hackers alike use the precision of automated machines for their own personal exploration and expression. But the tools we use now are either expensive or cumbersome–often coupled with a hefty learning curve but no up-front promise that they’ll meet our needs. To that end, Jubilee is meant to shortcut the knowledge needed to get things moving, literally. Jubilee wants to be an API for motion.

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Perler Printer Pushes Pixel-Art Like No Sprite Artist Could

There’s something oddly soothing about the practice of laying down Perler Beads on a casual weekend to make your favorite classic Nintendo characters. But seriously, why use our grubby hands like a caveman when we could leverage a machine to do the heavy-lifting for us? That’s exactly what [knezuld11] did! They’ve built a 64-color Bead Sprite Printer including an automatic cooking feature for fusing the result. (Video, embedded below.)

From the top, up to 64 unique bead colors are stashed into cartridges at the top. A bulk agitator does the work of passing these beads into tubes for the lower-stage bead selector. At this level, beads colors are serialized into a single tube that feeds into the output “nozzle.” The entire process of directing the bead pattern is driven by a Python script that takes images as input and approximates their colors to the available bead palette. When the bead “printing” is done, the machine ramps up its heated bed and cooks the bottoms of the beads, fusing them together in a way that [knezuld11] says works actually better than the typical ironing method.

We simply love how feature-complete this system is. While [knezuld11] mentioned that the Bead Sprite Printer was an attempt at beating a world record, we imagine that there are dozens of other ways this machine could lead to some whimsical engagements. Quite frankly, we’d love to see this machine at an Artist Alley making on-demand art.

If you managed to spill all your beads from sheer excitement watching this video, fret not! This automatic bead sorter from our past is just the thing to help you out.

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Literal Stretch-Sensing Glove Reconstructs Your Hand Poses

Our hands are rich forms of gestural expression, but capturing these expressions without hindering the hand itself is no easy task–even in today’s world of virtual reality hardware. Fret not, though, as researchers at the Interactive Geometry Lab have recently developed a glove that’s both comfortable and straightforward to fabricate while capturing not simply gestures but entire hand poses.

Like many hand-recognition gloves, this “stretch-sensing soft glove” mounts the sensors directly into the glove such that movements can be captured while hands are out of plain sight. However, unlike other gloves, sensors are custom-made from two stretchable conductive layers sandwiched between a plain layer of silicone. The result is a grid of 44 capacitive stretch sensors. The team feeds this datastream into a neural network for gesture processing, and the result is a system capable of reconstructing hand poses at 60Hz refresh rates.

In their paper [PDF], the research team details a process of making the glove with a conventional CO2 laser cutter. They first cast a conductive silicone layer onto a conventional sheet of silicone. Then, with two samples, they selectively etch away the conductive layer with the unique capacitive grid images. Finally, they sandwich these layers together with an additional insulating and glue it into a hand-shaped textile pattern. The resulting process is a classy use of the laser cutter for the design of flexible capacitive circuits without any further specialized hardware processes.

While we’re no stranger to retrofitting gloves with sensors or etching unconventional materials, the fidelity of this research project is in a class of its own. We can’t wait to see folks extend this technique into other wearable stretch sensors. For a deeper dive into the glove’s capabilities, have a look at the video after the break.

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