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Bill Hudson

new cutting tool.

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Apriliadan2000

Very cool that someone has turned the cricut into a modeling tool.

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jackofalltrades

I wonder if it could be used to cut self-stick material to use as a resist for chemical etching?   Accuracy?   Looks like it could be useful.

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WeekendMiniaturist

I have a Gazelle (by Bosskut).  It only cuts as good as the programmer who writes the instructions.  :).  This is the reason I purchased Corel Draw a couple of years ago.  When I was in the market to buy a Cricut type of machine, there was a lawsuit for not using proprietary software, "Cricut's cartridges",  so I sold my cricut on eBay (never used it even 1x) and then purchased a Gazelle.  I'm always willing to pay a little more money for freedom to use my own ideas and not be limited by someone else's programming. 

 

 

Tamra

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karincorbin

The Cricut along with other vinyl cutters are sometimes referred to as electronic die cutters. These machines were developed from the early pen plotters. In the 1970s Hewlett Packard created the HP 7470 mode which instead of moving the paper with perforated holes along the edges used grit wheels. So that printer was really the grandmother of  this generation of cutters. You can today still use these cutters with pens for drawing  or with a holder that contains a small swivel knife. They are also referred to as "drag knife plotters".

 

The Cricut company has done its best to prevent anyone from hacking into the software on the machines as they wish to make their money on the sale of proprietary cartridges. Truthfull there is little point in bothering trying to hack into them as the reolution quality of the cutter is simply not very good.

 

There are quite a few cutters on the market intended for crafters which allow anyone to use their own design files. The entry level craft cutters are fun to play with but ultimately their resolution is not up to fine scale modeling needs. Having used a few of them I find they can not accurately cut very small arc and circles. They also do some rounding up of numbers due to the stepper motor's limitations. Backlash is also an issue on these lower cost machines.  Additionaly because they are intended for beginners with little technical background or experience they are dumbed down and the user is shut out of the ability to fine tune many aspects which can improve the quality of cuts produced.  Those additional control features are available in the mid level price range of machines. The entry level craft cutters have a price range of  around $100.00 to $400.00.

 

The next level up of electronic cutters are more robust machines that use better quality components. Another advantage is you can obtain parts for the machines should one of the components on them fail. You gain more accuracy as well as speed and often an increase in pressure which will allow for cutting of thicker materials. In addition you will also be enabled to fine tune more of the parameters of the cutters. They also bring with them more choices in the blade designs and holders. With this level of quality you can begin to reliably cut small arcs and circles. Some of these machines have encoding in the firmware to assist in that task. Generaly they are still using stepper motors but a few of the mid range cutter do have servo motors in them. There are many discussion on the internet about the differences in the two types of motors so I won't go into it here, however servo motors are typically going to give higher resolution cutting. 

 

One thing you will want if you plan on cutting anything more substantial than medium weight cardstock is a machine with at least 700 grams of pressure.

 

It is important to realize that in the machines the knife itself  is being dragged along rather that being physically controlled and moved by gears. There are some cutters that have knife holder mechanisms that are physically rotated to change the direction of cutting but the price point of those puts them in the class of machines used in manufacturing and that takes them well beyond the price of a laser cutter. The disadvantage of a drag knife becomes most obvious on acute angle cuts. In those situations the knife can't swivel quickly enough to create the sharp points. There are some ways of dealing with this such as when preparing the cutting files you want to use a program that allows for node direction control. This will allow you to have the knife dragged along so it exists at the acute point and is then lifted up by the machine rather than being pulled around through the valley or apex. Then the line on the other side is also directed so that it too follows a path where it too approaches the valley or apex to exit the cut in the same way. Cutting very small rectangles can also be an issue if the cutting path is directed to follow around the permimeter as the knife may not have time to realign on the path after coming around a corner. The end result could be a lopsided rectangle as the knife has little chance to straighten out along the line segment. So basically a drag knife cutter will always have some limitations to its accuracy of cuts due to the fact that the knife direction is not mechanicaly controlled. That said they are still very useful tools for cutting paper and cardstock without leaving the scorching or smoke residue of a laser cutter. You can get excellent cuts with them but don't expect them to handle very small intricate, closesly spaced sharp pointed designs. There is also a limitation of how thin a section can be without tearing from the stress of cutting and removing the object from the adhesive coated cutting mat. In other words you can't reliably make thin window mullions for smaller scale work on one of these machines.

 

In terms of something of decent quality that can accurately cut materials out of cardstock you might want to consider this desktop sized servo motor cutter that just came on the market. This is being marketed by a reputable company that provides good customer service. The lower priced option of this machine has a laser pointer that can be used to manually locate registration for contour cutting, the higher priced version has an optical eye to help located the registration marks for that task.   This link is to the model with the manually located registration mark, it is only about $100.00 more than the Silhouette cutters but is a far superior machine and a large step up in quality above the typical craft cutters which is why I am providing the link to it.  http://www.uscutter.com/TITAN-15in-Table-Vinyl-Cutter   The automatic optical eye version of this machine which can scan to locate the registration marks is a couple of hundred dollars more. The reason you do want to purchase a machine that has contour cutting abillity is you can cut around the perimeter of graphically printed items. There are machines that will both print and cut but they are much more expensive and will not handle thicker cardstock materials.

 

As to an earlier mention of cutting materials for resist yes these cutters can manage such things. Much though depends on the material itself. You can cut many types of thin films and if the machine has enough pressure using multiple passes you can even cut thin leather, stabliized cloth, veneer wood, very thin annealed metal, thin cork, some types of rubber stamp materials, vinyls of many types and thin styrene. It is more difficult to cut soft materials that have spring back to them, in those cases of somewhat stretchy material such as leather you need to increase the "overcut function" so that at the end of the cutting path the knife exits at the correct intersection of lines rather than leaving an uncut bit of material that got slighty stretched out ahead of the knife blade.

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Guy Gadois

Karin,

 

Another cutter to consider....just FYI

 

I looked up the specs for the USCutter 15" model and its maximum cutting force is 710 grams. One I have used is the Silver Bullet from That's Scrap company. I had the 13" model which has a cutting force of 1250 grams. It will cut 1/8" Basswood and 1/4" with two passes..

 

Regards,

Guy

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karincorbin

Thanks Guy,  I bought a Silver Bullet 18" model about a year ago. (By the way they don't sell a 13" cutter, they do have a 15" model) Its been a reliable machine, I have already put a lot of hours of cutting time on it making thousands of little buildings. I primarily cut cardstock of varying thickness on it for the little miniature buildings that I sell as pre-cut kits in my Etsy Store.

 

I cut my drag knife machine baby teeth a number of years back on a 10 foot wide and 30 foot long machine with a vacuum hold down table that was being used in manufacturing to cut patterns from carbon fiber pre-preg. It was the class and size of the longer machines shown in this video clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0DSOUDYadk

 

Photo below is of my Silver Bullet 18" cutter with its bright orange extension tables. This orange stuff is called Kydex plastic, I think safety orange was specified for the original job the leftovers came from. I raided the scrap pile and there was enough of it to make my table tops which is why they are bright orange, a happy color. We designed a Delrin support bracket kit for the extension tables. You supply your own tabletop material. My partner has that kit available if anyone decides to get a Silver Bullet, it creates a much sturdier table than the one offered by That's Scrap.

 

sb%2Btable.jpg

 

micro%2BOT%2Bhand.jpg

Karin

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Bill Hudson

Nice looking machine and I like your little buildings if I haven't said so before.  I do envy all you who have mastered computer aided stuff. I still use a drafting board and pencils etc. but I would like to learn CAD mainly because finding drafting supplies is hard now days and the drafting table takes up too much space (it mostly serves as  catch all when not in use).  CNC sounds interesting but I am back in the old school and take pleasure of fabricating up a part from scratch. 

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karincorbin

Nice looking machine and I like your little buildings if I haven't said so before.  I do envy all you who have mastered computer aided stuff. I still use a drafting board and pencils etc. but I would like to learn CAD mainly because finding drafting supplies is hard now days and the drafting table takes up too much space (it mostly serves as  catch all when not in use).  CNC sounds interesting but I am back in the old school and take pleasure of fabricating up a part from scratch. 

One thing I know for a fact is pleasure can be derived from many things we do. That it is about attitude, it is not about what we are making and how we make it. We can choose to take pleasure ... or not.

 

If you want to learn CAD download a program and work your way though the tutorials. There are always tutorials available. Many of the programs are for 2D drafting. I prefer to begin my design in 3D then generate the 2D drawings from that. Being a model maker who is creating real life 3D and also knows how to draft in 2D you will be comfortable with both types of CAD programs.

 

Karin

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Bill Hudson

I need to find  good entry level program for mac with simple instructions. Years ago I had a drawing program called Free hand mostly for art.  The thing I liked about it was that it had several layers to work in. I was getting fairly competent with it but it was not a drafting type drawing program. When I upgraded my computer there was no upgrade for the program.  I'm not sure it even exhausts any more.  There was a time when I was fairly fluent in Dos and had a PC.  NowI am nearly incompetent in puters.

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karincorbin

Bill, I took a quick look at some CAD programs for the Mac. I am keeping in mind that you will need a fair amount of help in learning it but want something that can do decent technical drawings and that it creates them in the 2D drafting style. That the program you need doesn't have to be and should not be as complicated as the ones used in a professional architect's or engineer's office.

 

There are some free programs around but there is a CAD program, TurboCad that has been around for quite a while. It is in the affordable price range, the 2D version for a MAC when purchasing it from Amazon is right at $50.00. I have not used it myself but I think it might suit your needs very well.

 

The reason I think it could work for you is there are a lot of video tutorials for it on youtube that are meant for beginners who have never used CAD programs before. Some of the tutorials start right at the beginning taking you step  by step through the installation and then begin teaching you all the basics of the functions. There are several different teachers of it on youtube which means if you don't like the way one of them teaches you can try others.

 

Before you buy anything watch some of the videos. See if you think you can handle what they are doing. Then try a free 30 day download that will let you try it  without buying it. You want the program "TurboCad Designer for Mac". Sometimes when you do the free trial software they will offer you discounted prices in an email. Search on Amazon too because often it is a little less expensive by $10.00 or more than buying it direct from the software company.

 

Later on if you decide you would like to try designing in 3D you can upgrade to a version from the company that has both 2D and 3D functions.

 

Karin

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Bill Hudson

Thanks  for the advise Karin, too bad we don't live closer where I could pick you brain. I will look into it.  My main fear is that my short time memory sort of forgets itself once in a while. I was fairly proficient with Free Hand program; it was basically a CAD program.  Sadly it did not up grade to OSX.  I'm not even sure it is available any more. It would d not be much of a step from there to 2D if I remember correctly.  Right now I am trying to tie up several loose ends but I soon hope to get started on 2D.

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karincorbin

Thanks  for the advise Karin, too bad we don't live closer where I could pick you brain. I will look into it.  My main fear is that my short time memory sort of forgets itself once in a while. I was fairly proficient with Free Hand program; it was basically a CAD program.  Sadly it did not up grade to OSX.  I'm not even sure it is available any more. It would d not be much of a step from there to 2D if I remember correctly.  Right now I am trying to tie up several loose ends but I soon hope to get started on 2D.

One of these days I will make it back to Eugene. When I finish fixing up my little vintage motorhome I will be on the Oregon Coast part of the year. Since I will drive around in my home it will be easy to stay a while and give lessons in various things to those who are asking for help. Or take lessons or trade knowledge.

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Guy Gadois

Karin,

 

FYI - Silver Bullet does make a 13" cutter. That is the one I had.

 

post-225-0-29527100-1427427571_thumb.jpg

 

Guy

 

 

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karincorbin

It is going to be interesting to see how a Silver Bullet cutter can manage to cut 1/4" basswood when the 1 mm diameter of the shaft of the carbide  knife area is only 5/32" in length before it stops then takes a diameter jump to 2 mm where it is cemented into the wider shaft. The longest beveled cutting edge on any of the knife blades is on the 60 degree blades and it is  2/32" long. Sorry I don't have my metric scale handy. My guess is there will be some compression of the wood along the edges of the cut in order for the knife blade to reach that deep. In other words as there is no kerf created by removal of material.,only a slight compression by the wedge shape of the 1 mm knife edge. The machine will have to force a 2mm round shaft that has no cutting edge into the cut line. It would logically not be able to move at all as there is no knife edge on the round shaft once it punches under pressure that shaft that is wider the the knife blade just below it into the wood. It sounds like an excellent way to quickly destroy the stepper motors on the machine as well as ruin the drive belts.

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Guy Gadois

Simple,

 

Cut half way through- flip material over - reverse pattern.

Guy

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karincorbin

Simple,

 

Cut half way through- flip material over - reverse pattern.

Guy

Guy please educate us on how you accomplished the exact registration of the position of a piece of 1/4" thick wood on a vinyl cutter? Did you create an accessory jig for that? If so it would be helpful to at least have an explanation posted for people to follow.

 

Do you have a design that was made for a custom cutting table support that will prevent a 1/4" thick ridgid material from going into a see saw effect when reaching the cutting strip that is right under the blade? That table would need clearance around the grit rollers but still allow them to touch the cutting mat. A ridged piece of material such as 1/4" thick basswood stuck with repositionable adhesive onto a thin and flexible cutting mat has to be fully supported or else it will want to separate from the cutting mat. If it was not fully supported by a long enough table top then the bass wood could see-saw on the fulcrum point of the plastic cutting strip which would have the potential to snap off the delicate knife tip. There is only a 1/16" clearance between the surface of the material being cut and the point of the knife which allows the knife to raise above the surface of the material between cuts for a change of position. So there is not really any room to allow for any kind of raising of the surface of the basswood during a  see-saw movement.  The means very exacting creation of the surface of a support table structure when cutting rigid materials. That is made difficult by the fact by the structure of the machine which in the area leading up to the cutting strip has a curved surface. The depth of the support table thickness has to become quite thin as it approaches the cutting strip area.

 

However despite any techniques one might use for positioning, indexing, flipping etc the machine still won't cut wood that is of use for fine scale furniture making or items such as window casement and door framing or picture framing as it can't produce a square cut 90 degree surface with a wedge shaped knife blade that leads into a wider diameter round shaft. It has the same types of issues that prevent the use of any cutters with double sided wedge shaped blades from creating wood pieces suitable for precise joining against a mating surface.

 

This video showing a thick mat board being cut shows clearly just how wide of a gap the diameter of the knife structure is going to need to force into the wood. Bass wood is more dense than this mat board so it will require the maximum force the machine is capable of to accomplish this. You can see the deformation of the material that has been created by the machine forcing non cutting edges of the blade shaft into the opening rather than physically removing material from a kerf as would happen with a saw or laser. Of course she is only cutting 1.1mm thickness which is far less than 1/4" thickness but you can see the distortion of the blade on the material since it is not removing a kerf to clear a pathway. Paper is soft and has not grain so it deforms but wood will split under those conditions as the forces take the path of least resistance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9BPg2Ltj6k

 

Of course there is one more important factor that I have not mentioned...wood can split when put under force from a wedge shaped blade. You are not always cutting, the blade has to enter the cut with a straight downwards movement. It wood be best to take numerous shallow depth of cut passes versus trying to cut through in one or two deep passes.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Karin, Why not use a CNC router for 1/4 thickness of wood? 

 

Jack of all trades, I've never tried to cut anything this small on my Gazelle for resist for chemical etching.  I guess the simplest way to test this is to see how tiny of a font I can cut out, or how funny, odd symbols (wing dings) cut with the Gazelle. 

 

After reading this thread, I'm not convinced that one machine will do it all for mfg of multiple kits.  I have concluded I need a fairy godmother to buy a laser and cnc router... I am hoping one of the local universities and upcoming art communities will add a cnc laser.  We have 3D printer at the local library... but I'm not exceptionally fond of plastic miniatures, unless they were plastic to begin with.

 

Bill H, are you using CAD to redraw a pattern?  I think if you are using cad to illustrate a project that the learning curve can be frustrating.... many times a pencil and graph paper is infinitely easier.  If, I make a small quantity of 4 chairs,  you would have to twist my arm to get me to create a professional drawing.  If, I have to make 100 kits  for a local event, then I spend time at my computer...  I've never found Adobe Paint, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, to be 'easy', I am always finding something that one program limits me in, and I have to switch, and everytime I switch, resulting frustration.

 

Why do you need CAD vs. a drawing program?  There are several freehand options of software for Mac (versions 8-11) on Amazon.  Upgrading to FreeHand may save you the learning curve of a new piece of software.

 

Wikipedia has some history on Adobe FreeHand, and which Mac O/S works with which version.

 

Tamra

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karincorbin

Karin, Why not use a CNC router for 1/4 thickness of wood? 

 

Jack of all trades, I've never tried to cut anything this small on my Gazelle for resist for chemical etching.  I guess the simplest way to test this is to see how tiny of a font I can cut out, or how funny, odd symbols (wing dings) cut with the Gazelle. 

 

After reading this thread, I'm not convinced that one machine will do it all for mfg of multiple kits.  I have concluded I need a fairy godmother to buy a laser and cnc router... I am hoping one of the local universities and upcoming art communities will add a cnc laser.  We have 3D printer at the local library... but I'm not exceptionally fond of plastic miniatures, unless they were plastic to begin with.

 

Bill H, are you using CAD to redraw a pattern?  I think if you are using cad to illustrate a project that the learning curve can be frustrating.... many times a pencil and graph paper is infinitely easier.  If, I make a small quantity of 4 chairs,  you would have to twist my arm to get me to create a professional drawing.  If, I have to make 100 kits  for a local event, then I spend time at my computer...  I've never found Adobe Paint, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, to be 'easy', I am always finding something that one program limits me in, and I have to switch, and everytime I switch, resulting frustration.

 

Why do you need CAD vs. a drawing program?  There are several freehand options of software for Mac (versions 8-11) on Amazon.  Upgrading to FreeHand may save you the learning curve of a new piece of software.

 

Wikipedia has some history on Adobe FreeHand, and which Mac O/S works with which version.

 

Tamra

I am a trained CNC machinist so yes I might use a CNC for projects. But it is not likely that I would use it for cutting 1/4" wood. Work holding very small parts is the primary issue with doing that. Then there is the issue of grain direction when cutting and the tendency to either leave a rough surface or break the parts. That is why you don't see it being done more often.

 

I don't normally make miniatures with CNC except for creating jigs, fixtures and patterns that I use in conjunction with other tools such as saws, routers, drills and such.

 

I wonder when people are going to quit thinking 3D printers are just for making finished objects and start thinking about how truly useful they are for making those jigs, fixtures and tools? The same thing is true of the laser cutter. This week the laser is being used to cut a template for accurately routing some wood.

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MeezerMama

Karin, You are right!  The real benefit of computer-aided printing/cutting (laser or CNC) for miniatures is in creating jigs and fixtures.  I do this all the time.  For instance, for low volume work acrylic can be laser cut and used as a lathe duplicator template.  And while I suppose some people would pooh-pooh that idea, I think it's more original than buying a fixture that someone else has made.

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karincorbin

For higher volume duplicators and other jig and fixture pieces that can be cut on a laser use Acetal plastic, one brand name of it is Delrin. A bit advantage is that it is a self lubricating plastic and it holds up to surface wear. It cuts very nicely with a laser. We use it for all kinds of projects around the workshop.

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