Testing A Laser Cut Wrench VS A Forged Wrench

It is easy to not think much about common tools like screwdrivers and wrenches. But not for [Torque Test Channel]. The channel does a lot of testing of tools and in the video, below, they test a new wrench that is, oddly enough, laser cut instead of forged like the usual wrench.

You would expect a machined wrench to be weaker than a forged wrench. We were impressed, though, that there is so much difference between wrenches when you start making measurements.

Speaking of measurements, we would like to see more details of the test setups shown both in the video and in some of the video clips included. We did enjoy seeing the examination of the internal grain structure of both wrenches.

Be forewarned. Watching this video is likely going to send you to the computer to buy some new wrenches, especially if you don’t have 30/60 head wrenches.

The real question is why laser cut a wrench? It doesn’t seem like it is actually better than the forged variant. It is more expensive, but the setup costs for forging are higher. Particularly for a tool made in the United States, forging is both expensive and it is difficult to find time on the limited number of large-scale forges left in the country.

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Custom Raspberry Pi Case Shows The Whole Workflow

If you are a process junkie and love seeing the end-to-end of how a thing is made and with what tools, then watch [Michael Klements] show off his Raspberry Pi case design. His case has quite a few cool-looking elements to it, and incorporates 3D printing as well as laser-cut and clear bent acrylic for a gorgeous three-quarter view.

[Michael]’s write-up (and accompanying video, embedded below) are partly a review of his Creality 3D printer, and partly a showcase of his Raspberry Pi case design (for which he sells the design files for a small fee on his Etsy store.) But the great part is seeing the creation of every piece that goes into the end product. Not everyone is familiar with the way these tools work, or what they can create, so it’s nice to see attention paid to that side of things.

Both the blog post and the video nicely show off what goes into every part. The video opens with unpacking and setting up the 3D printer (skip ahead to 4:58 if you aren’t interested), followed by printing the parts, laser-cutting the acrylic on a K40 laser cutter, bending the acrylic using a small hand tool, and finally, assembling everything. For the curious, there are also links to the exact parts and equipment he uses.

Like we said, it’s part 3D printer review and part showcase of a design he sells, but it’s great to see each of the parts get created, watch the tools get used, and see the results come together in the final product. And should you wish to go in the opposite direction? A one-piece minimalist case for your Raspberry Pi is only a 3D printer away.

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This Spherical Lamp’s Pieces Ship Flat, Thanks To Math

[Nervous System] sells a variety of unique products, and we really appreciate the effort they put into sharing elements of their design and manufacturing processes. This time, it’s details of the work that went into designing a luxury lamp shade that caught our eye.

Top: Finished lamp. Bottom: Partially-assembled.

The finished lamp shade is spherical, but is made entirely from flat-packed pieces of laser-cut wood that have been specifically designed to minimize distortion when assembled into a curved shape. The pieces themselves are reminiscent of puzzle cells; complex, interlocking cellular shapes found in many plants.

As usual, [Nervous System] applied a hefty dose of math and computational design to arrive at a solution. Each unique panel of the lamp is the result of a process that in part implements a technique called variation surface cutting for the shape of the pieces. They also provide a couple of nifty animations that illustrate generating both the piece boundaries as well as the hole patterns in each of the 18 unique pieces that make up each lamp.

As for making the pieces themselves, they are laser-cut from wood veneer, and assembly by the end user takes an hour or two. Watch a video overview, embedded just below under the page break.

We’re glad [Nervous System] takes the time to share details like this, just like the time they figured out the very best type of wood for laser-cutting their unique puzzles and didn’t keep it to themselves.

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An OpenSCAD Library For All Your CNC Cutting Needs

While there’s always the edge case, there’s a strong likelihood that if you’re using OpenSCAD, you’re probably working on a CAD model that you intend to 3D print at some point. Of course that’s not to say this is all you can do in OpenSCAD, but it’s arguably what it does best. If you wanted to make artistic models, or maybe render what your new kitchen will look like, there are other tools better suited to such tasks.

But thanks to lasercut.scad, a library that [Brendan Sleight] has been working on for the last several years, we might have to reconsider our preconceived dimensional notions. Instead of designing parts for 3D printing, his library is all about creating parts intended for subtractive manufacturing. Originally (as the name implies) it was geared towards laser cutting, but the project has since evolved to support CNC routers, vinyl cutters, and pretty much anything else that can follow a DXF file.

This “clip” joint is great for acrylic.

The library has functions for creating the standard tricks used to build things from laser-cut pieces, like finger joints, captive nuts, and assembly tabs. If it was something you once saw holding together an old wooden 3D printer kit back in the day, you can probably recreate it with lasercut.scad. It even supports a pretty wild piece of rotational joinery, courtesy of [Martin Raynsford].

Don’t have a way of concentrating a sufficient number of angry photons at your workpiece? No worries. The library has since been adapted to take into account a parametric kerf width, which lets you dial in how much of a bite your particular tool will take from the material when it does the business. There are even special functions for dealing with very thin cuts, which [Brendan] demonstrates by assembling a box from sheet vinyl.

Of course, those who’ve used OpenSCAD will know there’s not an “Export for CNC” button anywhere in the stock interface. So to actually take your design and produce a file your cutter can understand, [Brendan] has included a Bash script that will run the necessary OpenSCAD incantations to produce a 2D DXF file.

[Brendan] decided to send this one in after he saw the aluminum enclosure OpenSCAD library we covered recently. If you’ve got your own pet project that bends some piece of hardware or software to your will, don’t be shy to let us know.

a variety of enclosure options

The Many Ways To Solve Your Enclosure Problems

Most projects around here involve some sort of electronics, and some sort of box to put them in. The same is true of pretty much all commercially available electronic products as well.

Despite that, selecting an enclosure is far from a solved problem. For simple electronics it’s entirely possible to spend more time getting the case just right than working on the circuit itself. But most of the time we need to avoid getting bogged down in what exactly will house our hardware.

The array of options available for your housing is vast, and while many people default to a 3D printer, there are frequently better choices. I’ve been around the block on this issue countless times and wanted to share the options as I see them, and help you decide which is right for you. Let’s talk about enclosures!

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See This Hybrid Approach To Folded 3D Printed Mechanisms

3D printers are quite common nowadays, but we’re still far from exhausting new ideas to try with them. [Angus] of [Maker’s Muse] recently got interested in 3D printing small mechanical assemblies that can be put together by folding them up, and also depend on folding linkages for the moving parts. (Video, embedded below.) The result would be lightweight, functional assemblies that would be simple to manufacture and require very few parts; but how to make the hinges themselves is the tricky part. As a proof-of-concept, [Angus] designed a clever steering linkage that could be printed flat and folded together, and shows his work on trying to make it happen.

[Angus] points out that that 3D-printed hinges have a lot of limitations that make then less than ideal for small and lightweight assemblies. Printing hinge pieces separately and assembling after the fact increases labor and part count, and print-in-place hinges tend to have loose tolerances. A living hinge made from a thin section of material that folds would be best for a lightweight assembly, but how well it works depends a lot of the material used and how it is made.

[Angus] tries many different things, and ultimately decided on a hybrid approach, combining laser cutting with 3D printing to create an assembly that consists of a laser-cut bottom layer with 3D printed parts on top of it to create a durable and lightweight device. He hasn’t quite sorted it all out, but the results show promise, and his video is a fantastic peek at just how much work and careful experimentation can go into trying something new.

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Open Source CAM Software In The Browser

3D printers, desktop CNC mills/routers, and laser cutters have made a massive difference in the level of projects the average hacker can tackle. Of course, these machines would never have seen this level of adoption if you had to manually write G-code, so CAM software had a big part to play. Recently we found out about an open-source browser-based CAM pack created by [Stewert Allen] named Kiri:Moto, which can generate G-code for all your desktop CNC platforms.

To get it out of the way, Kiri:Moto does not run in the cloud. Everything happens client-side, in your browser. There are performance trade-offs with this approach, but it does have the inherent advantages of being cross-platform and not requiring any installation. You can click the link above and start generating tool paths within seconds, which is great for trying it out. In the machine setup section you can choose CNC mill, laser cutter, FDM printer, or SLA printer. The features for CNC should be perfect for 90% of your desktop CNC needs. The interface is intuitive, even if you don’t have any previous CAM experience. See the video after the break for a complete breakdown of the features, complete with timestamp for the different sections.

All the required features for laser cutting are present, and it supports a drag knife. If you want to build an assembly from layers of laser-cut parts, Kiri:Moto can automatically slice the 3D model and nest the 2D parts on the platform. The slicer for 3D printing is functional, but probably won’t be replacing our regular slicer soon. It places heavy emphasis on manually adding supports, and belt printers like the Ender CR30 are already supported.

Kiri:Moto is being actively improved, and it looks as though [Stewart] is very responsive to community inputs. The complete source code is available on GitHub, and you can run an instance on your local machine if you prefer to do so. Continue reading “Open Source CAM Software In The Browser”