Vectorworks Pill Bottle

While making my final draft CAD model in VectorWorks I ran into some challenging problems, especially when creating the mouth with two NURBS curves. But before I tackled that, I wanted to get the basic bent shape of the pill bottle like the initial sketch.

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I used the proportions of an actual pill bottle, 2″ x 1.5″ After making a circle the diameter of an actual pill bottle, I extruded it to the corresponding and used the Deform tool to create the bent shape at the top and the bottom.

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Then, using two NURBS Curves I created the shape of the mouth,

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And a bend to the bottom of the bottle.

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I needed to connect both curves to create a single object because I couldn’t extrude two lines without making it a solid shape, but in the process I ran into a lot of problems trying to combine the two end points. I was able to combine one side but VectorWorks would not let me connect the other end no matter what I did.

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I tried to simply move the end points onto each other and combine into surface,

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but I kept getting the error shown above.

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Trying again with the NURBS curve I was able to connect the top end points but then once I tried connecting the bottom ones, I got the following  error.

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Having spent way too much time trying to address the numerous NURBS problems, I started remaking the mouth with angles.

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After playing around with angles, straight lines connecting them, and reshaping them I ended up with two versions of the mouth but settled on the left one.

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Then it was time to down size the mouth to the pill bottle.

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Below is the process for removing the bottom of the model by subtracting a square from the curved piece.

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I realized the curve I put on the back of the mouth was in the wrong shape.

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So I went back in and added the curve in the other direction.

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Positioned it in a place where I thought the mouth should go,

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And voila!

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I was happy with the result, however, I wanted to try and add more curves to the back of the mouth so that the angle wouldn’t look so machined.

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Using the fillet edge tool, the back, curved end of the mouth was effectively softened around the edges.

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I placed it within the new but nearly identical pill bottle and exported my file as an .stl to move it to Ultimaker Cura in order to 3D print.

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With the file saved to High quality I started to print, not noticing until half way through that the top of the mouth wasn’t going to print properly. I kept going none-the-less because I needed to get a prototype primed and painted.

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Once it was done printing I immediately noticed that the mouth was not cut all the way through on the sides.

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Not to mention all the plastic that dripped through the part that failed during the printing.

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I tried getting a picture where you can see the mouth looking funky.

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After slicing away at the stringy part inside the mouth, I placed the cap on top and thankfully, I had measured it just right so that it fit with ease.

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But I didn’t want the logo on the cap so I started to sand it off with a high number grit. It looks white in this picture.

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But it actually looks like this.

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So I tried many other grades of sandpaper.

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And eventually ended up with this. So I’m now considering putting a vinyl sticker on the top or painting it white.

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Now it was time to primer.

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And after an hour or two I spray painted it orange.

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But this is not the exact color I want.

 

I learned a lot for this weeks assignment.

  • I want to try to mill this piece on the 4 axis
  • The model I’ll try to print next will be the first mock up without the rounded edge mouth.
  • I need to fix the model so that it is sturdier when placed on the table (I think the first mock up will stand on it’s own better than this one.
  • I want to try dying delrin after milling on the 4 axis
  • Vinyl stickers need to be designed and placed properly.
  • Pills as a stand and as decor need to be modeled eventually.
  • Need to focus on what orange I want if I’m going to continue to 3d print.

Sculpting The Toy

I changed the idea for my toy since the last assignment. Initially I had an idea to have a bottle of pills and a group of four pills with different personalities, but then I thought the pills would be so small, I wanted to work on a slightly bigger scale.

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So then I changed it to a series of four different pill bottles with personalities based on what the medication creates.

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One of the mock ups, the Prozac pill bottle, made me laugh and I settled on a group of four Prozac bottles, all laughing except for one that’s crying as well. (All housed in a medicine cabinet)

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Since I have experience with VectorWorks, I quickly created two cylinders and pulled them by .5″ and 3″. For this mockup I didn’t include the spring and have since decided that I might not want to take that approach because it could look kitschy.

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Once I placed the two together I realized the body needed to be cut in half so I copy and pasted the 3″ cylinder and created a 1″ and 2″ to create the mouth.

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After creating the mouth I rotated the top half to add expression. It should look like it’s laughing.

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After adding all the shapes together and saving as a .stl I brought my file into Cura.

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This screen shot is for the low resolution print which I didn’t end up with because I wanted smooth edges.

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The whole process took 5 hours. Almost immediately I noticed that the size of the bottle was way too big. I realized that I had haphazardly created the circles in an unknown size that I eyed out.

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Once my print had finished it confirmed my thoughts about the size of the bottle. I want it to be true to size and am now considering kit-bashing with the cap or the body.

Another thing I realized was that the position of the bottle as straight up and flat on the table didn’t give a lot of emotion to the laughing that’s supposed to be going on.

I didn’t include eyes in my 3D sketch because I wasn’t sure about what I want to do with them yet.

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The back of the head didn’t work out so well in the 3D print, probably because of the angle of it.

Going back to my CAD sketch, I tried playing around with the Fillet tool and gave a rounded edge to the upper lip.

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But once I tried making the bottom lip rounded I lost the whole head!

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Unfortunately, when I tried to play around with the shape of the body by using the deform tool, I kept getting a “deform tool failed” error.

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I wanted to create an angle at the bottom of the model so I started trying to sand off the material with sand paper by hand. That didn’t work out so well so I moved on to clamping it to the table and bringing it down with a metal file.

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This proved to be laborious and I applied too much pressure at one point and it snapped a bit of the mouth.

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Despite breaking it a little, I learned that I want all 4 toys to have a different bend or angle to the bottom to differentiate them.

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Next, I wanted to try and alter an actual pill bottle.

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After heating the plastic up with a hair dryer, the mouth was cut with an sharp knife and bent back.
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In VectorWorks, I tried making some pill shaped objects but found that I wasn’t getting anywhere trying to make an oval and a round rectangle rounded on the sides but I kept getting a “Edge Filleting Fail”. Even when creating a 3D sphere, I couldn’t find the right tools to manipulate them into a pill shape.

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Finally, taking some modeling clay, I sculpted some eyes to mess around with the expression of the character.

What I got out of this exercise:

1. The scale of the toy should be true to size.
2. Kit-bashing is something I might want to explore
3. Each toy should have a slightly different stance
4. Eyes might want to be closed
5. Details like teeth, maybe a tongue, pills coming out of the mouth should be added
6. Label should be added (need to work this part out)

Edison Lamp Station

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My initial idea for a lamp included a light switch, a rubber mat to rest your phone on, a metal post for sunglasses, and a pocketed area for change.

Once I started drafting this idea in Vectorworks, and became aware of the size limitations of the 4-Axis, I realized I needed to rework my idea. I knew I wanted something functional for my bedside table, and I wanted to incorporate my skill builder into my final. (For the skill builder I made a small charging dock for an iPhone.)

Vectorworks prototypes:

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Once the cherry wood arrived in the mail it became easier to see the dimensions of everything I wanted to mill.

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Because I wanted to maximize the amount of wood I could use I needed to add tabs in Vectorworks to allow the machine to take off the minimal amount on the front and back. This also prompted me to create a third roughing and finishing tool path to ensure the front and back would be milled.

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Unfortunately, the drill bit was not as long as I needed it to be and at one point the callet, collet, caullet however you spell that, ran into the chuck. Oops!

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After restarting the machine due to that error, I was pleased to find I could restart the job without losing all my axies! I edited the tool paths to not mill on either side of the piece.

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Thankfully, the bit was just long enough to be able to mill down to the center on each side.

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Once the 4-Axis started milling the back I saw that the bit wasn’t in fact long enough make the hole for the charger.

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I was a little baffled as to why the machine left such rough lines on the front near the back, but I thought the final tool path would correct that.

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It didn’t unfortunately.

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It left some pretty nasty grooves on the top.

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I thought that maybe if I ran the last finishing step one more time it would get rid of the grooves on the surface.

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So I deleted all the other paths and highlighted the top of the surface where I wanted the machine to mill.

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After milling air for half an hour it finally started to smooth out where I wanted it to.

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But to my dismay, it didn’t smooth it all that much.

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After taking it off the 4-Axis and cutting off the extra wood on the sides using the bandsaw, I was left with some sanding to do. But first I wanted to drill a hole where the bit didn’t go through.

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Hastily, and after 7 hours milling, I slightly damaged the wood around the hole which was frustrating.

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I tried the drill press but it didn’t do any good, so I started filing the area down to make the hole big enough to fit a charger cable.

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Then I got to sanding the sides using a miter guide which made it easy to create an even surface area.

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The finished result looked great!

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Then it was time to discuss how to fit the lamp parts into everything before I lathed the remaining cherry wood bits.

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Ben suggested making a small lamp post and affixing it on the lathe with the chuck and then using the drill to create a hole large enough to fit the guided nipple post — is that what it’s called?

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The cherry wood pieces.

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The failed drill press attempt.

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The cherry wood prepared for lathing.

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I needed to make a .7 diameter, 1/4″ deep part at the bottom of my lamp post in order to securely glue it into the 4-axis part.

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Once I had the correct size for that part I started shaping the rounded wood.

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Using three grits of sandpaper, I sanded it until it was really smooth.

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And used the drill to easily make a centered hole through the middle.

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After band-sawing off the ends, it was ready to be glued!

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Tightly clamped.

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Now it’s time to wait 8 hours.

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Since I had all this time on my hands to wait, I wanted to utilize one more machine, the Othermill.

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Out of aluminum, I wanted to make a lightning bolt.

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It took me a while to remember that the illustrator file had to be filled in in order to show up in Bantam. While the Othermill was doing it’s job I realized a crucial mistake.

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My charger cable wouldn’t fit!

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So I stared at it for a long time thinking of what I could do to remedy the situation.

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Every now and then glancing over and stopping the milling process to vacuum up the pieces!

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Thankfully Ben had a solution for me. And we carefully drilled a round hole in the bottom so I could thread the cable through.

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The lightning bolt came out nicely, and just required a little scraping off the ends to make it smooth.

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Ben was also kind enough to teach me how to properly wire the lamp so I wouldn’t die turning it on.

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Although the two marked areas in red would be rounded, I think the bolt came out nicely.

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The original Illustrator file without it being properly filled in.

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I realized something wonky that took me a while to sort out when subtracting pieces from the main block in Vectorworks. I needed to use the arrows to have the part I wanted subtracted to be highlighted in yellow and the rest to be highlighted in red or else everything around it would be subtracted.

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What it shouldn’t look like, but what it defaulted to.

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The error I got when improperly trying to subtract the whole shape from the tiny part.

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After waxing on the lathe and by hand in the pocketed areas.

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Felt on the bottom.

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And it’s done!

A Bookshelf

Now that I’ve spent about 7 hours using the CNC machine I’m getting pretty comfortable with it. I’ve learned that the machine definitely is a little crooked because of the flooring, and that the wood I used was bent toward the center resulting in pieces that didn’t breakthrough. Although Mastercad is an ugly interface, I’m used to the work flow now, and I barely have to go back to my Vectorworks file to edit before milling. I definitely didn’t expect each piece to take about an hour to mill. And if I didn’t get sick over break, I would have had enough time to finish this before class. I drastically underestimated the time I would need on the CNC machine, and having everyone using it around the same time didn’t help.

PROCESS:

First, I sketched out each piece on paper to visualize how much wood I’ll need.

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Then I created 3 Vectorworks files, one for the back, one for the two sides, and one for the top and bottom. As you can see below, I didn’t add any pockets on the top and bottom of the side parts, which I realized was a mistake later.

In order to get the dimensions right, I made a tiny model out of paper with the measurements to see how the parts connected.

Bookshelf
Bookshelf

Once I got all my measurements in order I went to Mastercad and started with the pockets for each file and then added contouring. Because I used a single rabbit joint, I set the pockets to be half of the width of the plywood which was .725, so my pockets were set to .363 (that’s with .5 added tolerance). I also double checked that the settings were on Absolute.

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My plywood was cut to about the size of the bed (4 x 4) and screwed into place with 5 screws.

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I realized there was a slight bend in the middle of the wood. Unfortunately, no screws could fix this issue.

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I loaded the “back” piece and after pressing start I realized that I didn’t zero the mill far enough to the left on the X axis. The mill went off the side of the wood, so I loaded the side pieces and re-purposed that piece of plywood for those two parts.

Bookshelf
Bookshelf

Once the side pieces finished I started milling the top and bottom parts. Something strange happened during this process. The piece of plywood was also bent in the middle and this caused the mill to miss the middle of the pocket during the first couple of runs.

Bookshelf
Bookshelf

This surprised me because half way through the process, it started milling the middle in what seemed like an even line all the way from one side to the other!

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Bookshelf

The finished top piece didn’t go all the way through on the other side, but looked pretty good from the front.

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The bottom piece milled the same way the top did, leaving out the middle until creating a heavy line midway through the process.

Bookshelf
Bookshelf

The last piece I milled was the back. I made sure to zero the machine all almost all the way to the left on the X axis. To my dismay, and because of the wood being bent in the middle, the CNC started milling the tab in the middle upper portion of the wood and scraped the middle of it on it’s way over there. I stopped the process and started again, zeroing the Z axis a little higher, but that wasn’t enough either and I ended up with two marks in the middle of my nice piece of wood.

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Eventually, I had to bring the Z axis much farther up so the bit could pass the middle bent section without hitting it. That resulted in my entire piece not breaking through to the other side.

Bookshelf
Bookshelf

I had to do something about the fact that most of my pieces didn’t breakthrough so I grabbed a hand tool to take off the edges of some of my pieces.

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That left me with quite a bit of sanding to do. I made sure to not sand down the pockets like I did when I practiced making my joints.

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The sanded pieces looked pretty good after a while, aside from the back piece which had the two track marks in it.

Bookshelf
Bookshelf

Then it was time to glue the pieces together. I started with the top and bottom and glued it to the back with 4 90 degree clamps.

Bookshelf

Once I had both sides clamped there wasn’t much more I could do because the CNC was booked until the next day when I had 3 more hours in the evening to finish the shelves and two doors. That was around the time I got a text from NYU saying they would be closed the next day due to a snowstorm. I left the top, bottom, and back pieces for the snowday clamped together for a strong hold.

Jointery – 2nd Try

While thinking about what I want to ultimately do for my midterm, I realized that it would be a good idea to try and perfect the joint I’ll be using in order to save time. A double rabbet joint should suffice for the credenza I’ll be adapting from this work plan.

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I ran into a few problems when attempting this type of joint. First, I created two identically measured pieces in Vectorworks and brought it into Mastercam and then to the CNC machine. I laid down the wood only to realize once I had everything set and I was about to press “start” that I had aligned the wood improperly on the bed.

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I needed to set it up so that the blank area of the wood was along the X axis not the Y. So I re-positioned it and then I was all set to go.
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After about 12 minutes here’s what I ended up with:

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Not a great fit, I know, but it allowed me to see where I needed to subtract from each piece.
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I went back to Vectorworks and Mastercam and made my adjustments.
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By the end of that run cycle I ended up with two pieces that fit together almost perfectly!

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When I looked at the two pieces fitting together very closely I realized that in Vectorworks I didn’t round the corners on the inside of the pockets which could be why they weren’t sitting entirely flush.

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Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with the progress I had made and what I learned from taking the time to really get this joint down. I’d like to know how I can figure out the math behind this without having to make two identical parts first.

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Jig & Coin Mill

My goal for this assignment was to engrave an “S” into a coin. At first I thought I might want to carve my own coin from aluminum but once I realized that I couldn’t get the 90 degree angel’s I wanted from an 1/8th inch bit I thought it may be cool to carve into a Euro instead. I chose an “S” for my wife’s name Sadie.

To begin, I fit my 1/8″ bit to the Othermill and then had to remember to download the Delrin custom tool library for brass because Euro’s are made of a combination of brass and nickel in the middle of the coin where I’ll be engraving.

Once I put together the file for the Delrin rig in Vectorworks I couldn’t figure out how to export it as an .svg file in order to import it to Bantam. I asked around and realized that I needed to bring the file into Illustrator in order to re-save it….and then it took me a good 15 minutes to figure out what to export it as. Turns out you need to export it to an .eps file in order for Illustrator to read it.

Once I did that it wasn’t entirely obvious whether I should keep the art board that automatically came with the .eps file once I imported it. After importing the .svg file from Illustrator I did not get what I expected in Bantam. After deleting the square I made outside the circle and adding a bit of a stroke to the circle constraining the art board to the size of the circle, I was able to get things looking the way they should.

I set the advanced properties on Bantam Tools to cut in the inside because I feared that leaving the settings as they were on default would cut the circle larger than I wanted.

I’m having a lot of trouble getting the “S” to show up in the Bantam program. It seems like it’s only taking the art board because I’m getting an outline of the board but not the “S”. The problem was that it was saving as a text file which wasn’t being read properly by Bantam so I had to rasterize the S to make it an image in Illustrator. I resized the image and set the engraving so it would engrave the middle.

Of course I took the jig off the bed which entirely ruined the point of making a jig so I quickly put it back and made another circle on the other side of the Delrin so I could make a precision “S” in the coin. I’m pretty happy with the results although I would have liked it better if it didn’t make a crazy noise and I had to stop it 3/4 of the way through the process once I stopped it to clean the debris.

I tried making it again with another 2 Euro but it immediately sounded bad once the bit hit the material so I halted production.

I really like using  the Othermill and could’ve spent many more hours experimenting with it if I didn’t have to share the machine!

 

CNC Milling a 2 Euro Coin from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.