Tuesday, March 23, 2010

At Last: a Robot to Do My Bidding

Well if not my bidding, at least it can do my whittlin' for me. A little while ago I picked up a Craftsman Carvewright, a computer-controlled carving machine that can carve patterns into wood, foam, and a variety of plastics:


After reading and re-reading the owner's manual, I finally went ahead and built a test project. I grabbed a small scrap of mahogany and set up the machine to carve a handful of pictures and some text onto it. Here I am looking happy about it:
Shiny New 1
I made it a point to include as many small details as I could. It managed to cut them all, but since the ball-nosed carving bit had a 1/16" tip, I was making it work a lot harder than it was designed to. While there were some problems with some of the smaller details on some of the pictures, the text came out great:
Shiny New
Having found the limitations of the device, I started making pieces and parts. Here's a rough draft of the replacement insignia I'm making for my father's RatRod built from an International Pickup truck:
Testing the Machine
For those of you who don't know, "Cornbinder" used to be a somewhat common nickname for International trucks. I didn't know either.

I'm also using it to make a few parts for the HALO project. Here's the prototype for the inner thigh part:
Inner Thigh Prototype

Now I'll be painting this piece and making a silicon mold to pull copies in urethane foam rubber. Painted black, they'll look like so:


There's also a function that lets me import 3d models, slice them into pieces that can be carved from flat stock, and make parts that can be stacked and glued together to make a 3d object. I'm building up to be able to make one of these:


Done right, this thing will be about six feet long. Fun!

In the meantime, I'm still trying to think up a name for my new robot shop assistant.

Stay tuned...

2 comments:

  1. Can you integrate the 3D slicer program with Google Sketchup? Just started learning it this week and it is pretty cool.

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  2. Yes I can. Google Sketchup saves files in its own unique format (called ".skp") but I've found a conversion plugin so I can turn them into the .stl files that the Carvewright software can import.

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