Butterfly

I had a friend apply her much-more-artistic skills in decorating one of the models, and this is what she came up with.

Goes to show what someone with talent can do!

Jeanené is an artist and does facepainting for markets among her other creative outlets. She can be contacted via email at nanni.com.au@gmail.com or on 045 206 1416.

Photos by Kara Rasmanis

Butterfly plans from MakeCNC.com

English Manor Dollshouse

First attempt at a larger build of one of the MakeCNC buildings.

Made from 6mm MDF, it took a bit to assemble- friction really increases dramatically with the larger sizes.  

The result is quite impressive.  Feeling inspired to make some of the others.

Acrylic Snowman

While the MDF snowman worked out nicely, and it looked ok painted up, I wanted to get back to trying my hand at making some models from acrylic.

Given that Christmas is rapidly approaching, I thought I’d tackle the snowman again, and see just how well the CNC, along with a new set of router bits specifically for plastic from toolstoday.com would work out.

Just an aside for a second.  I have just gotten an iPad Pro, and while writing the article, have used one of the pro’s features of being able to run a second program simultaneously, and on screen at the same time.  Awesome feature! 

  
I also found a better supplier of plastic sheet goods, so that will be great (and dangerous to the wallet).  They also sell acrylic ‘glue’, and it is a vast improvement over using Superglue.

I still have some processes to work out to make things run smoother on the CNC process of working with acrylic, but for the most part it went very well.  Acrylic is pretty flexible when it gets thin, even worse than MDF it seems, if that is even possible.  So I found myself supervising the whole job while it was machining.  I was using an upcut bit, and perhaps that also has a lot to do with it.  While chip clearance is important (especially with a material that can melt), lifting the piece is not the best way of ensuring it is stable.  I still don’t have revolution speed control, so am still running the bits slower than I would like, and again that is probably a real factor.

Still, the result is a great snowman. Looks awesome (especially with Kara Rasmanis wielding her camera)  

 Next one to tackle – an acrylic AT-AT (Imperial Walker) in greys and black plastics. And there will be video, just once I have a better idea of just how to manage this material!

Xmas is here already?!

No idea where that year went.  Good grief.

My wife and daughter have been having a bit of fun painting up the Santa’s Workshop (from MakeCNC)

xmas-1.jpg

xmas-2.jpg

My first time, I hit a bit of a snag, as I used the 6mm plans by mistake and still cut it from 3mm MDF (which is the model above).

Since then however (and despite the warning to the contrary), I’ve been quite successfully making the workshop from 3mm MDF, using a 1/16″ router bit from Toolstoday.com.

It is a fun kit to assemble (and paint if you have the patience).

As you can also see in the first photo, I gave Frosty a treatment as well, using an airbrush for the most part (he was already fully assembled that made it a bit tricky).  My suggestion for him would be to assemble the hat, then paint it, but then paint the rest of the snowman while still in pieces.

I used acrylic paint for this job, which goes on quite well on MDF, although MDF is like working with rough cardboard.  Doesn’t pay to rush the painting either, but seeing as the year has finished before I realised it had begun, I did anyway just to get the job done.

I am still in two minds about painting the models – they do look good painted, but equally, they offer a different quality in their raw state.  Like looking at a scene and deciding if it is better depicted in a colour photograph, or a black and white one.

Certainly for the Xmas decoration aspect, the painted model wins hands-down.  Next time I’ll have to think about how to run some fibre optic lighting through the place!

I obviously have a young daughter – while painting Frosty, I kept getting an adapted line running through my head from a certain movie

“Do you want to paint a snowman?”

 

A Snake in the Grass


Careful where you walk……

Photo by Kara Rasmanis.  Pattern from makecnc.com, cut on a Torque 9060 CNC using 1/16″ router bit from toolstoday.com

There is no fate

At least not till next year, as the school fete has come to an end.  After 8 or so hours, a bit weary, but it was fun.

Quite an interesting learning curve – got a lot right enough, but there is always more than can be refined, if I ever intend to do this again!  I do have one other planned fete coming up in November, but that is about it.

Fun seeing the kids’ reactions.

The display stand with the black cloth covering it, is the Centipede XL which I just got back after lending it at the start of the year.  It is perfect for this sort of thing.  I made a top from 6 panels of MDF which were cable-tied together to create one overall top.  This allows me to take the top off and fold it up for storage/transportation.  I made it from 3mm MDF as that is what I had to hand, but 6mm or 9mm MDF would have been better.  As the MDF only has a few holes drilled right at the extremities for the cable ties, I can still then use the pieces on the CNC machine 🙂  It worked very well – easy to transport, easy to set up, and stable.  (Does that make it a stable table?).  In comparison the vacuum-formed tables are reasonably easy to transport (they weight quite a bit more but have much less surface area) and quicker to set up (if you factor in attaching the top).

That gets me thinking – I could come up with a segmented top for the Centipede, which engages with the holes in the leg caps.  That would remove the need for cable ties and make a really rigid (crossbraced) system.  Make a good way to use it as a workbench as well.  Alternately, I could recess out the area where the top of the leg touches the top, so the whole top piece can still be stored perfectly flat.  I’ll work on that, and let you know what I come up with!

Sales were ok, not unreasonable, not as high as I would have expected.  I did a quick gender comparison – ie assuming some models would appeal to one gender more than the other (and those that would appeal more to both).  It is a really rough tool – for example, I chose a swan to be oriented towards girls, and a cobra to be something that would appeal more to boys, and a turtle to be neutrally biased.  That might infuriate some people, but the reality is that if you got a bunch of primary school students and gave them the choice (with no observers, or chance that classmates etc would ever know the choice made), that certain toys would be selected disproportionally higher for one gender over the other.

The analysis is very loose – I did not record the gender of who was making the purchases, or who they were purchasing for, so already there is a lot of interpretation built into these stats.

Toy Variety

Girls liked a lot less variety than boys in the toys chosen.

Of the total variety of girl-oriented toys, sales were concentrated around 41% of the range available.
Of the neutral toys, 53% of the variety available were purchased.
For boys, 75% of the range had at least one sale made.

Kits vs Preassembled models

This data is not very relevant, as the models were only able to be collected at the end of the day, whereas kits taken straight away.  Additionally, there was only one of each type assembled, and between 0 and 10 kits available.

Girls’ purchases were 71% kits
Neutral purchases were 53% kits
Boys’ purchases were 78% kits

Total Sales

Of all the purchases available:

Total sales of girls-oriented models: 20%
Total sales of neutral-oriented models: 23%
Total sales of boy-oriented models: 56%

As very few types sold out completely, this data was not heavily influenced by particular models becoming unavailable.

Other interesting observations – quite a few people looking (kids and adults) – “Wow, these are really cool”, then after checking the price “Wow, these are really cheap” (the vast majority being around the $5-$7.50 mark).  However even after uttering both those comments, the person looking around would then wander off.  Interesting that something that is regarded as “cool and affordable” still does not necessarily result in a sale.

I would have sold more if there was no restrictions on whether the person could buy and take the pre-assembled model, so having two or three of the most popular kits pre-assembled would be beneficial.

It may also be better if there was less variety of kits available, and so people could select the ones they want for purchase, rather than having to ask for them.  While this makes perfect sense (and is how we shop most of the time), it is a lot harder to do this in a market-like scenario with limited space.  Especially with bulky products that have a degree of fragility to them.  Again, if I was doing this on a regular basis, I would be able to justify the additional investment in the multiple storage containers needed to keep everything sorted.  For a one (or two) off, that is less practical.

All in all though, it was a fun evolution, and I’d do it again.

Occasionally!

Episode 118 Lancaster cut video

A quick video of the Lancaster Bomber being cut out.  I don’t want to think how long it took this video to actually get done – so many delays, so few windows of opportunity to work on it!  I decided to cut my losses and just put together what I had, rather than stress too much about really refining it.

Plans from MakeCNC.com

Uses the 45705 V-Groove 60º x 1/2″ Dia. x 1/4″ Shank Router Bit and the 46200 Solid Carbide Spiral Plunge 1/8″ Dia x 1/2″ Cut Height x 1/4″ ShankDown-Cut, both from Toolstoday.com

For better or worse, here ’tis.

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