Typical nutcrackers rely on simple pin hinges to join two handles for the cracking task. However, [adam the machinist] has demonstrated that a single-piece nutcracker is possible by using the flexural properties of the right grade of steel.
The nutcracker is manufactured out of 17-4 PH stainless steel, heat treated to the H900 condition. A flexural spring section at the top of the nutcracker takes the place of the usual hinge, allowing the handles to be squeezed together and the teeth of the cracker to open the nut. Machining the flexural section is first achieved with a series of CNC drill operations on the billet stock, before regular milling is used to shape the rest of the spring section and tool. The video dives deep into the finer points of the CNC operations that produce such a great finish on the final part. It even covers the use of a tiny scissor jack to help hold the handles still during machining.
The result is a highly attractive and desirable nutcracker that looks far more special than the regular fare you might pick up at Walgreens. The all-billet tool is a nutcracker very much fit for a sci-fi set. We’ve seen some other kitchen tools around here before, too, albeit of more questionable utility.
Continue reading “An All-Billet, Single-Piece, Flexure-Based Nutcracker”
At any given time I’m likely to have multiple projects in-flight, by which of course I mean in various stages of neglect. My current big project is one where I finally feel like I have a chance to use some materials with real hacker street cred, like T-slot extruded aluminum profiles. We’ve all seen the stuff, the “Industrial Erector Set” as 80/20 likes to call their version of it. And we’ve all seen the cool projects made with it, from CNC machines to trade show displays, and in these pandemic times, even occasionally as sneeze guards in retail shops.
Aluminum T-slot profiles are wonderful to work with — strong, lightweight, easily connected with a wide range of fasteners, and infinitely configurable and reconfigurable as needs change. It’s not cheap by any means, but when you factor in the fabrication time saved, it may well be a net benefit to spec the stuff for a project. Still, with the projected hit to my wallet, I’ve been looking for more affordable alternatives.
My exploration led me into the bewilderingly rich world of aluminum extrusions. Even excluding mundane items like beer and soda cans, you’re probably surrounded by extruded aluminum products right now. Everything from computer heatsinks to window frames to the parts that make up screen doors are made from extruded aluminum. So how exactly is this ubiquitous stuff made?
Continue reading “Under Pressure: How Aluminum Extrusions Are Made”