Sometimes there are moments when an engineer has to use whatever materials they have to hand in order to complete the job on time. Such a situation arose at the RevSpace hacker space in Den Haag, Netherlands, as they were the assembly venue for a conference badge.
Their problem was that the badge PCB had no solder paste stencil, and the solution was to laser cut one out of an unexpected material. The backing paper for self-adhesive vinyl sheet has properties not unlike those desired of a stencil, so they tried laser-cutting one from that material. The result was a robust stencil that outperformed the Mylar they had previously used, enabled the manufacture of 350 boards.
They think that the polymer layer on top of the paper may be silicone, and found that the laser didn’t unduly melt the edges of the cut. We’re not sure we’d feed random unknown plastics into our cutter, we’re guessing they have good quality ventilation. It’s mounted into a plywood jig in much the same way as a conventional stencil might be.
The badges were destined for WICCON, a Dutch conference from an organisation for women in cybersecurity. Sadly we’ve not seen a completed one so we’re not sure what it does, however we’re pleased to hear they were completed before the event. That’s a hurdle all badge designers will know well.
Level data was extracted from the game’s original WAD data files using code written in Rust. Maps are described by multiple “lumps” within the WAD file format, each containing information on vertexes, walls, and floors. This data was scraped and converted into SVG files suitable for laser cutting. [Theor] then built a visualizer that could display what a stacked-up laser cut map would look like in 3D, to verify everything worked correctly. With that done, the map could be laser cut without worries that it would come out a jumbled, janky mess.
[Theor] kept the finished product simple, creating the map as a stack of blue acrylic pieces. We can imagine this tool being perfect for creating a high-quality diorama though, with some work done to paint the map to match what the player sees in game. If you happen to take that approach, don’t hesitate to notify the tipsline!
A tidy workshop is much more likely to be a happy workshop, and one that better supports the practice of making. Organisation is key to maintaining tidiness over time, and for that, you need storage. [Wesley Treat] needed some more space recently, and set about building a serious storage unit using laser-cut parts.
The key to the build lies in the elegant steel flanges used to make the drawers. These were designed in CAD, with a DXF cutting file exported and sent off to OSH Cut for laser cutting and bending, in much the same way one would send 3D printed parts off to Shapeways or PCB files to JLCPCB. The drawer flanges are then joined with steel angle and fitted with plywood bases and sides. The drawers are then given CNC-engraved nameplates for a nice aesthetic touch. Once finished, the heavy duty drawers slide on wooden rails built into the walnut frame.
It’s a great example of how farming out a single piece of a larger project can lead to a quicker build and better final results. Producing 12 flanges by hand in the home shop would take longer and likely have far more variability. For those that only have a 3D printer at home, farming out production for metal parts is a good way to do heavy-duty projects without having to invest in an entire machine shop.
Lasercutters are amazingly versatile tools that can help you build all manner of complicated structures if you can break them down into a series of planar parts. [David] had spotted artworks at the Smithsonian which caught his eye, using planar shapes with interesting repeating patterns. Wanting to make similar works himself, he set out to create software to help make it possible.
The result of [David]’s work is the Polygonia Design Suite. It’s a tool that aims to make creating geometric patterns for lasercutting easy and simple. The web interface designer has a wide variety of options for drawing shapes and patterns, and the frame size can also be controlled. [David] demonstrates these features with all manner of creations. The project’s Instagram page features basic rectangular panels with inset cubic and triangular motifs, all the way up to an ornate octahedron built from many panels held together with 3D printed clips.
If you’re in the mood to create some geometric lasercut artworks, check out the tool online. The first 3 exports are free, with a variety of subscription models available for heavy users. We fully expect to see an explosion in fancy lasercut homewares at the weekend markets in years to come.
Lasercutters are fantastic tools: they’re highly useful for making flat things, or even flat things that you later bend! This makes them particularly well suited for making gears out of flat stock. [sharvfish] needed to get his hands dirty with producing some gears for his automaton, and decided to share what he learned in the process.
The gears in question are cut out of MDF board, which is readily usable on all but the feeblest lasercutters you’ll find in the average makerspace. The first problem faced was when producing gears with low tooth counts – depending on the exact geometry used, teeth with lower counts can tend to jam easily. For [sharvfish]’s gears, 6 teeth seems to be just a touch too small to work well. Other issues cropped up around the kerf of the cuts affecting the gear mesh and the use of pins to improve the coupling of the gears to the shaft, which [sharvfish] expands upon in the video. There’s also a cheeky cephalopod cameo, too.
It’s always interesting to see the unique challenges faced in the undertaking of a project; we could see six more lasercut projects this week, and we’d likely see six unique problems the builders faced as well. It’s a great insight into the build process and it’s great when makers share their journey as well as the finished product. Video after the break.
The Assistive Technology challenge of the Hackaday Prize received a large number of projects addressing many socially relevant problems. Mobility and transportation needs are a big challenge for those with limb disabilities. Not every country has proper, state-subsidised health care systems, and for many people in third world countries, devices such as wheel chairs are just not affordable. [Alessio Fabrizio] and his team developed TooWheels — an Open Source DIY wheelchair which can be customized and built using low-cost, local materials around the world and is one of the winners of the Assistive Technologies challenge round.
Originally conceived as a sport wheelchair, it has now evolved to answer different needs, due to feedback from the users and the community involved in the project. [Alessio] designed the project to be built from materials and resources easily available to any DIY maker at today’s Fab Labs and Makerspaces. The team have provided a detailed BOM to help procure all the required materials, instruction manual and drawings for assembly, and all the CAD files with customization instructions. Already, teams in Ecuador, India and Italy have replicated and built their own version of the TooWheel wheelchair. This confirms that the project is well documented and allows anyone around the world to download the plans and follow instructions to build their own wheelchair.
The wheelchair is built from CNC cut plywood sheets, aluminum pipes and bicycle parts and wheels. This makes it substantially cheaper compared to commercial wheelchairs, making it especially relevant for people in third world areas or where health care is not subsidised. The ease of customization allows fabrication of different wheelchair designs for sports, off-road or city use. The team is looking to bring this low-cost design to people around the world and are keen to collaborate with teams around the world to make it happen.
It’s hard not to be a fan of LEGO. The humble plastic bricks from Denmark enabled many a young engineer to bring their architectural and mechanical fantasies to life. But one limitation was that you were stuck using the bricks LEGO designed. Thankfully, [John Sokol] has come up with a way to laser cut his own LEGO-compatible bricks, and provided the tools so you can do the same.
After hacking an OpenSCAD script to generate just the top pins of the block, [John] exported an SVG into Inkscape so that he could scale the pins properly before exporting a final PNG for the lasercutter. Using RDWorks, [John] was able to find an engraving setting that worked well with dry-erase whiteboard MDF — an unusual material for a brick, but functional nonetheless. The key here is that the engraving setting takes away just enough material to create a raised pin on the part, without cutting all the way through the MDF or burning the surface.
Despite some damage when removing the work piece from the laser cutter, the part mates up well with the official LEGO brand parts. We’d be interested to see how the MDF cut parts hold up over time compared to real LEGO bricks made in ABS, which seem to last forever.