Loving Open-Souce One Anonymous Function at a Time.

Trophies for Day in the Dirt

Each year we go and race in the Day in the Dirt down south race. It is a terrific event put on by RedBull. This year I decided to make commemorative trophies for my brothers and nephew. I'm happy with how they turned out and for Send Cut Send for doing the machine work.

It started as a quick sketch in onShape. I exported the two files as DFXs and uploaded to SendCutSend.

I order one frame in 0.250" aluminum, three in 0.250" steel powder-coated white, and one in 0.250" steel powder-coated red. This is how each of them arrived from SendCutSend. It only took some RedBull cans in various flavors and some epoxy to get them all assembled.

Here is how the prototype in aluminum turned out. I think it looks good and was a fun excuse to expriment for other subtractive maching processes.

Learning a New Skill: CNC

I have been a huge fan of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. It is great for functional items like brackets, mounts, and replacement parts to fix a vacuum. The only problem, is that most people don't actual want stuff made out of plastic.

Switching over to subtractive manufacturing, and step back 50 years in time, brings us to CNC. CNC is an elegant technology in the sense that it is fairly simple, robust, proven to work, and incredibly flexible. The biggest problems with it are having to learn all the related woodworking sills and that most people don't want coasters any more than they want plastic widgets.

So why spend the time and money to learn it?

First, it is a robot cutting things that I design in a digital space. All of the annoyances of measuring, sawing, measuring again, goes away when it can be designed digitally first.

Second, it is a stepping stone to doing parts fabrication. Graduating up to machining metal is the real goal. The skills I'm learning now will directly translate up the to larger machines. Doing carbon fiber composite work needs molds and some molds are easier to CNC than to 3D print.

Third, working with wood is surprisingly satisfying. There is a whole community of people who woodwork and even casual acquaintances would rather talk about a nice slab of maple instead of hearing about the new LWPLA filament.

Looking at the image at the top of this post, the object itself is more interesting than the same shapes 3D printed. It just seems like more effort and skill were required. It did require more effort and skill and that is the whole point.