3D Printed Circular Prototype Performance Prop Captivates Circus Spectators

When mathematically inspired maker [Henry Segerman] conspired with circus performer and acrobat [Marcus Paoletti] to advance the craft of acrobatics in round metal objects (such as cyr wheels and German Wheels), they came up with a fascinating concept that has taken shape in what [Henry] calls the Tao-Line.

Similar performance devices go in a straight line or can be turned on edge, but the Tao-Line is far more nimble. This is because the Tao-Line is not a continuous cylinder, but rather is made up of numerous circular shapes that allow the Tao-Line to be turned and inverted at different points in its rotation.

While a circus prop might not be your average Hackaday fare, it’s noteworthy because the Tao-Line started off as a 3D printed prototype, which was then turned into the metal fabrication you see in the video below the break.  It’s an excellent example of how modeling complex shapes as a physical product- not just a 3D model on the screen- can be helpful in the overall design and construction of the full scale piece.

If you’re looking to build something that’s under the big top but not quite so over the top, you might enjoy this mixed-media digital clock. Thanks to [Keith] for the great tip. Be sure to submit send your cool finds via the Tip Line!

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Homemade Metal Band Saw

As the channel name implies, [Workshop From Scratch] is building a growing list of tools and machines from scratch. His latest edition is a heavy-duty metal band saw.

As with all his tools, the frame consists of thick welded steel components. The blade runs on a pair of modified belt pulleys and is driven by a motor with a worm gearbox. The blade tension is adjustable, and so are the pair of blade guides. To slowly lower the blade while cutting, [Workshop From Scratch] added a hydraulic piston with an adjustable valve to limit the lowering speed. When it reaches the bottom, a limit switch turns off the motor. The saw is mounted on a heavy steel table and can rotate at the base to cut at different angles. A heavy-duty vise, also built from scratch holds the workpieces securely in place.

Judging by the amount of steel he cuts for his projects, we imagine this saw will be a welcome addition to the shop. It’s impressive what he is able to build with just a drill, angle grinder, and welder. Many of the other tools used in the video, like the magnetic drill press and hydraulic vise are also his handiwork. Continue reading “Homemade Metal Band Saw”

Magnetic Motorized Plasma Cutter Track

Affordable plasma cutters are becoming a popular step up from an angle grinder for cutting sheet metal in the home workshop, but cutting long straight lines can be laborious and less than accurate. [Workshop From Scratch] was faced with this problem, so he built a motorized magnetic track for his plasma cutter.

Thanks to a pair of repurposed electromagnetic door looks and adjustable base width, the track can be mounted on any piece of magnetic steel. The track itself consists of a pair of linear rods, with the torch mounts sliding along on linear bearings. A lead screw sits between the two linear rods, and is powered by an old cordless drill with the handle cut off. Its trigger switch was replaced by a speed controller and two-way switch for direction control, and a power supply took the place of the battery. The mounting bracket for the plasma torch is adjustable, allowing the edge of the steel to be cut at an angle if required.

While limit switches on the end of the track might be a preferable option to prevent sliding base to hit the ends of the tracks, the clutch in the electric drill should be good enough to prevent damage if the operator is distracted.

[Workshop From Scratch] is really living up to the name of his YouTube channel, having built many of the other tools used in the video himself. Just a few examples are the XY-table, hydraulic adjustable workbench and  hydraulic shop crane. Continue reading “Magnetic Motorized Plasma Cutter Track”

Giant Blacksmith Vise From Start To Finish

In any proper workshop you want to be able to securely hold a workpiece, whether it’s a tiny PCB or a heavy piece of forged steel. [Jason Marburger] from Fireball Tool needed a really large heavy-duty vise, so he built himself a massive 1490 lbs / 676 kg floor-standing blacksmith vise from scratch.

Blacksmith vises are designed to take a lot of heavy abuse, such as holding heavy pieces of steel that are being hammered. [Jason]’s vise stands about 3 feet tall, and the main frame components were cut from 1 5/8 inch (41.3 mm) steel with a water jet cutter. The jaws are operated with a large hand wheel connected to a lead screw. Bearings on the lead screw allow the hand wheel to be spun like a flywheel, allowing it to be quickly opened and closed. The weight of the moving jaw keeps the lead screw under tension, eliminating any backlash. This allows for really fine control over the holding force, which [Jason] demonstrates by carefully clamping a tiny screw. With the hand wheel alone the vise can exert 12880 lb / 5800 kg, but a hydraulic lift was also added, boosting the force to 30000 lbs. The deep throat allows a large object to be clamped, and the jaws can also be offset to clamp something to the side of the vise.

The vise was beautifully finished with powder coating and pin striping, which will no doubt wear over time if it’s properly used, but the vise itself should last a few lifetimes. While this isn’t something you can really build in a home workshop, it is always inspiring to see what is possible with a bit more tools, knowledge and skill. The build is documented in a 4 part series (link in first paragraph), but we’ve added a short highlights reel below for your viewing pleasure.

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Heavy Metal Power Bank Uses Tool Batteries

At one time or another, most of us have seen a gadget for sale and thought we could build something similar for cheaper. Of course, we’re almost always wrong. Not about being able to build it, mind you. But when you add up the cost of the materials, the tool or two you almost inevitably end up buying, and the time spent chasing perfection, you’re lucky if you haven’t doubled the original price.

We’re not sure how much money [Taylor Hay] ended up saving by building his own portable power bank. But we do know it’s a gorgeous piece of hardware that’s certainly built far better than the average consumer gadget. The CNC-cut aluminum side panels look like something pulled out of a tank, and while we know some might balk at the 3D printed internal frame, we’re confident you could use this thing as an impromptu step stool without a problem.

Inside there’s 150 watt 240 VAC inverter, complete with a temperature-controlled fan to keep it cool under load. There are also four USB ports providing 2.1 A each, a standard 12 VDC accessory port, and a LED display that shows battery voltage and current being drawn. Rather than come up with his own battery pack, [Taylor] used a 3D printed interface that accepts an 18 V Milwaukee cordless tool battery. Naturally, the design could be adapted to take another brand’s cells if you were so inclined.

Around these parts, we know that a good project doesn’t have to be cheaper or even more practical than what’s already on the market. There’s an inherent value in building something exactly the way you want it that you simply can’t put a monetary price on.

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True Craftsmanship: Pneumatic Powered Drone Wasn’t Made To Fly

From time to time it’s good to be reminded that mechanical engineering can also be art. [José Manuel Hermo Barreiro], also known as [Patelo], is a retired naval mechanic with a love for scale model engines. Using only basic tools and a lathe, he has built a non-flying hexacopter display model, each propeller turned by a tiny single cylinder motor that runs on compressed air. From the tiny components of the valve systems, the brass framed acrylic windows into the crankcases, and the persistence of vision disc on the exhaust, the attention to detail is breathtaking.

One of the six hand crafted pneumatic motors

[Patelo] started the project on paper, and created a set of detailed hand-drawn blueprints to work from. Sadly a large part of the build took place during lockdown, and was not filmed, but we still get to see some work on a crankcase, connecting rod, camshaft, propellers, flywheel, and exhaust tubes. It is very clear that [Patelo] knows his way around his lathe very well, and is very creative with custom tools and jigs. The beautiful machine took approximately 1,560 hours to build, consists of 265 individually made parts held together with 362 screws.

We previously featured tiny V-12 engine that [Patelo] built around 2012. At that time he was 72 years of age, which means he should be around 80 now. We can only hope to come to emulate him one day, and that we get to see more of what comes out of his workshop. Hats off to you, sir.

Forming Sheet Metal Parts With 3D Printed Dies

Using 3D printed forms to bend sheet metal isn’t exactly new. We’ve seen several people create custom dies for their brakes, and the results have shown the concept has merit for small-scale production. But that’s usually where the process ends. A bend here or there is one thing, but the ability to form a complex shape with them has always seemed like asking too much. But judging by his recent experiments, [Shane Wighton] is very close to changing that perception.

The process at work here is, relatively speaking, pretty simple. You print out the upper and lower die, put a piece of sheet metal between them, and then smash them together with a hydraulic press. If everything works correctly, and your CAD skills hold true, the metal will take the desired shape.

Of course, that’s vastly oversimplifying things. As [Shane] explains in the video after the break, there are many nuances to forming sheet metal like this that need to be taken into account, and iteration and experimentation are basically unavoidable. So it’s a good thing you can rapidly redesign and reprint the dies.

Which isn’t to say that the dies themselves didn’t come with their own unique set of challenges. The first ones shattered under the pressure, and it took a few design revisions and eventually a switch to a stronger resin before [Shane] got a set of dies that could form the desired piece. Even still, he’s had a lot of trouble getting the printed parts to survive multiple uses. But he’s confident with some more refinements he could get a repeatable process going, and thinks ultimately producing runs of up to 100 parts on a set of printed dies isn’t out of the question.

Logically, it would seem plastic isn’t an ideal choice for punching and shaping metal. Frankly, it’s not. But if you’re doing in-house manufacturing, the ability to produce complex tooling quickly and easily can help make up for any downsides it might have.

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