Extrusion is a process for forming materials by forcing them through an opening, which can allow for complex shapes. Aluminum extrusion beams are what most of us are probably thinking of, but plenty of other things are made from extruded material like pipe, heat sinks, and even macaroni. Extrusion can also be used for modelling clay to create uniform sections of rounded clay as a starter material for producing other pottery, and [Justins Makery] has built a custom extruder to do just that.
The build starts with welding together a metal frame to hold the press, and uses a wooden wagon handle to drive the extruder. The handle can be moved up or down the frame to increase the range of motion thanks to a custom bearing and slots cut into the frame’s post. The piston mechanism itself is built out of aluminum plate with a cylinder loosely fitted to it to allow for easy cleaning, and the top of the piston uses a loose-fitting plastic cap cut out of an old cutting board.
With everything in pace, the extruder can make cylinders of clay of any desired thickness thanks to swappable dies. While it doesn’t produce the end result of the workshop directly, it definitely helps to provide the potter with clay of uniform dimensions used for building other pieces of pottery, much like how aluminum extrusions are used to build all kinds of other things as well.
Continue reading “Extrusion For The Pottery Shop”
Many of us have been asking for some time now “where are our robot servants?” We were promised this dream life of leisure and luxury, but we’re still waiting. Modern life is a very wasteful one, with items delivered to our doors with the click of a mouse, but the disposal of the packaging is still a manual affair. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to summon a robot to take the rubbish to the recycling, ideally have it fetch a beer at the same time? [James Bruton] shares this dream, and with his extensive robotics skillset, came up with the perfect solution; behold the Binbot 9000. (Video, embedded below the break)
Continue reading “This Is The Future Of Waste Management”
Having a 3D printer or a CNC machine available for projects is almost like magic. Designing parts in software and having them appear on the workbench is definitely a luxury. But for a lot of us, these tools aren’t easily available and projects that use them can be out-of-reach. That’s why one of the major design goals of this robotics platform was to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible.
The robot is called the OpenScout and, as its name implies, intends to be a fully open-source robotics platform for a wide range of use cases. It uses readily-available aluminum extrusion as a frame, which bolts together without any other specialized tools like welders. The body of the robot is articulating, helping it navigate uneven terrain outdoors. The specifications also call for using an Arduino to drive the robot, although there is plenty of space in the robot body to house any robotics platform you happen to have on hand.
For anyone looking to get right into the useful work of what robots can do, rather than spending time building up a platform from scratch, this is an excellent project. It’s straightforward and easy to build without many specialized tools. The unique articulating body design should make it effective in plenty of environments. If you do have a 3D printer, though, that opens up a lot of options for robotics platforms.
If you’re looking for the perfect excuse to buy that big, beautiful Bridgeport mill, we’ve got some bad news: it’s not going to be making perfectly square end cuts on aluminum extrusion. Sadly, it’s much more cost-effective to build this DIY squaring jig, and search for your tool justification elsewhere.
There’s no doubting the utility of aluminum extrusion in both prototyping and production builds, nor that the versatile structural members often add a bit of class to projects. But without square cuts, any frames built from them can be seriously out of whack, leading to misery and frustration down the road. [Midwest Cyberpunk]’s mill-less solution uses a cheap Harbor Freight router as a spindle for a carbide endmill, riding on a laser-cut acrylic baseplate fitted with wheels that ride in the V-groove of — you guessed it — aluminum extrusions. A fence and clamping system holds the extrusion firmly, and once trammed in, the jig quickly and easily squares extrusions that have been rough cut with a miter saw, angle grinder, or even a hacksaw. Check out the video below for a peek at the build details.
We love the simplicity and utility of this jig, but can see a couple of areas for improvement. Adding some quick-throw toggle clamps would be a nice touch, as would extending the MDF bed and fence a bit for longer cuts. But even as it is, this tool gets the job done, and doesn’t break the bank like a mill purchase might. Still, if your heart is set on a mill, who are we to stand in the way?
Continue reading “Square Cuts On Aluminum Extrusion, No Mill Required”
While we don’t often see them in the hobbyist community, 3D printers that can extrude gels and viscous liquids have existed commercially for years, and are increasingly used for biological research. [Ahron Wayne] has recently been working with such a printer as part of a project to develop a printed wound dressing made of honey and blood clotting proteins, but for practice purposes, wanted to find a cheaper and more common material that had similar extrusion properties.
The material he settled on ended up being common toothpaste. In the video below you can see him loading up the cartridge of a CELLINK INKREDIBLE+ bioprinter with the minty goop, which is then extruded through a thin blunt-tip needle by compressed air. After printing out various shapes and words using the material, often times directly onto the bristles of a toothbrush, he’s come up with a list of tips for printing similarly viscous substances.
First and foremost, go slow. [Ahron] says the material needs a moment to contract after being extruded if it’s going to have any hope of supporting the next layer of the print. Thick layer heights are a necessity, as is avoiding sharp curves in your design. He also notes that overhangs must be avoided, and though it probably goes without saying, clarifies that an object printed from toothpaste will never be able to support anything more than its own weight.
In addition to the handful of legitimate DIY bioprinters that have graced these pages over the years, we’ve seen the occasional chocolate 3D printer that operated on a similar principle to produce bespoke treats, so the lessons learned by [Ahron] aren’t completely lost on the hacker and maker crowd. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll one day find yourself consulting this video when trying to get a modified 3D printer to lay down some soldering paste.
Continue reading “3D Printing Toothpaste In The Name Of Science”
It may seem overwrought, but The Drama of Metal Forming actually is pretty dramatic.
This film is another classic of mid-century corporate communications that was typically shown in schools, which the sponsor — in this case Shell Oil — seeks to make a point about the inevitable march of progress, and succeeds mainly in showing children and young adults what lay in store for them as they entered a working world that needed strong backs more than anything.
Despite the narrator’s accent, the factories shown appear to be in England, and the work performed therein is a brutal yet beautiful ballet of carefully coordinated moves. The sheer power of the slabbing mills at the start of the film is staggering, especially when we’re told that the ingots the mill is slinging about effortlessly weigh in at 14 tons apiece. Seeing metal from the same ingots shooting through the last section of a roller mill at high speed before being rolled into coils gives one pause, too; the catastrophe that would result if that razor-sharp and red-hot metal somehow escaped the mill doesn’t bear imagining. Similarly, the wire drawing process that’s shown later even sounds dangerous, with the sound increasing in pitch to a malignant whine as the die diameter steps down and the velocity of the wire increases.
There are the usual charming anachronisms, such as the complete lack of safety gear and the wanton disregard for any of a hundred things that could instantly kill you. One thing that impressed us was the lack of hearing protection, which no doubt led to widespread hearing damage. Those were simpler times, though, and the march of progress couldn’t stop for safety gear. Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: The Drama Of Metal Forming”
T-slot extrusions used to be somewhat mysterious, but today they are quite common thanks to their use in many 3D printers. However, it is one thing to assemble a kit with some extrusions and another thing to design your own creations with the material. If you ever had a Play-Doh Fun Factory as a kid, then you know about extrusions. You push some material out through a die to make a shape. Of course, aluminum extrusions aren’t made from modeling clay, but usually 6105-T5 aluminum. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be an official standard, but it is so common that there’s usually not much variation between different vendors.
We use extrusions to create frames for 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines. But you can use it anywhere you need a sturdy and versatile frame. There seems to be a lot of people using them, for example, to build custom fixtures inside vans. If you need a custom workbench, a light fixture, or even a picture frame, you can build anything you like using extrusions. Continue reading “Getting Started With Aluminum Extrusions”