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Author Topic: Could you cut Balsa with this?  (Read 3792 times)
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Woodster
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« on: January 11, 2013, 08:16:46 AM »

http://www.cardcraft-uk.co.uk/cricut-mini-personal-electronic-cutter-machine-p-8277.html

In the description it says:

"Cuts a wide range of materials—including cardstock, vinyl, vellum, fabric, chipboard, and even thin foils"

Bit skeptical but if someone else would like to try one ...  Grin
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Bredehoft
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 09:11:14 AM »

I would be skeptical.

One review said it requires multiple passes to cut thicker material.

Also, I did not see that you could access the machine outside of their proprietary on-line "craft room" application.

I guess this type of machine is relatively popular with the crafters and scrapbookers.

--george
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Crabby
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2013, 09:15:52 AM »

Scanning the product description leads my to think it only works with "Cricut" files, you may not be able to create custom files with it such as wing ribs etc.... but it is interesting to think that someday we may be able to cheaply deny our hands, fingers, and minds, of the joy of creation!
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DaddyO
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 09:27:17 AM »

I suspect it couldn't old fruit (Looks like a cheapo 'vinyl' cutter, of which I have a lot of experience) Stuff like rubber sandblast material can be cut with difficulty, but whilst you might see the supplier do this with a demo machine in the real world you wouldn't try it and expect good results

Sorry to be a party pooper  Embarrassed
Paul
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Woodster
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 09:40:14 AM »

Pretty much what I thought. Always worth asking others though in case I had my pessimist head on when I saw it!
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lincoln
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 10:51:27 PM »

I am not the right person, but I'm guessing a good electronics hacker could make this work as a computer controlled machine that you could use with dxf files or something. If you're making small models out of good balsa and keep the blade very sharp, seems like almost anything would cut balsa. Certainly it's easier to cut than cardboard.

I suppose electronics hackers aren't very easy to come by, but you could check Instructables.com. Maybe someone has already done this.

The part I'd dread in a project like this is making the software work.
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Woodster
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2013, 06:33:11 AM »

So I suppose the answer is it may well cut Balsa, just only heart shapes or leaves etc! Shame. Still I suppose laser cut kit supplies can breath easy a little longer.  Grin
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Robmoff
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2013, 07:04:55 AM »

Just spent an hour or so researching these cutters on the net. My conclusions:-
What they call chipboard is not what you might use to make furniture, it’s a mountcard for picture framing!
•   Max thickness seems to be 1mm
•   The ‘design’ software allows you to import elements and arrange them, you pay for packs of elements.
•   There are models that cut up to 13” wide roll type materials, and they will import BMP and JPG files for you to modify, but still have the 1mm max thickness and cost over £600.
•   Cutting blades are EXPENSIVE.
I won’t be buying one!
Rob
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Woodster
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2013, 07:28:07 AM »

Thanks for taking the time to research this Rob. I won't be buying one either. Lets hope something more suitable comes onto the market in due course.
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Tilou
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2013, 07:05:35 PM »

I have a Craft Robo.
Cutting balsa 0.8mm is only possible with 10-12 passes, but after 20 ribs the blade is shot...and the mechanism of the machine doesn't like it Undecided Undecided
Cricut is a little bigger but...
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One cut
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2013, 04:22:26 PM »

Definite NEGATIVE on using the Cricut for cutting balsa.  My wife has one and for scapbooking and such it is good.  Not for balsa wood.
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Dimeflyer
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2013, 04:47:48 PM »

Glad I caught this discusion -I will not bother looking it up !
George
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FLYACE1946
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2014, 08:32:58 PM »

Here is a question with a serious twist:

I need to cut 1/16th Ply and wonder if the Midwest Products Easy Cutter Ultimate will get the job done. If not capable of this please advise what will cut into 2X3 inch squares. Really am curious. Scissors broke in my hand a few minutes ago. The tool is supposed to cut up to half inch sticks but since that is balsa I don't know what to expect.

I went to two stores and called 2 more before finally finding the 1/16th plywood I needed.

Thanks for any help . I really want to know today.
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2014, 10:16:35 PM »

Someone on another forum mentioned using a Tile Cutter for cutting plywood
up to an 1/8 thick.  Might be worth looking into.

Skyraider
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FLYACE1946
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2014, 11:16:44 PM »

Thanks for the tip. I was able to cut the ply with some heavy duty kitchen scissors. Then I was able to finish the job by sanding off the cornes and can go on now with the rest of the project.

There must be some limit since the Midwest tool would not provide enough pressure to cut the 1/16th plywood.
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BCFlyer
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 03:01:27 PM »

For 1/16 ply the methods are sort of in the middle.  As you found out a set of heavy shears or tin snips will cut the plywood but it doesn't leave a clean edge.  Similarly multiple passes with a knife will score the wood through.  But it's slow and a little risky if you need to move quickly.

A table saw with a "zero clearance" insert around the blade works well.  But not everyone has a table saw handy.  The tile saw would work but you'd want to get a toothed blade since diamond blades don't cut wood worth a darn.

A small battery operated skill saw set and held upside down with a thick plywood auxiliary table can be a pretty quick and easy table saw if the amount you need to do justifies the work and time.
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BCFlyer
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2014, 03:16:40 PM »

This thread got me looking at the Cricut.  Like many of you have found the Cricut is limited as to files it can be fed.  But I saw references to a Silhouette Cameo machine.  Checking into it I found that the software is far more adaptable to user generated files. 

The only trouble is that it's still limited to 0.8mm maximum thickness.  But the options for cutting out tissue and film markings would be amazing.  I just need to figure out if I'd use one enough to justify the cost.

With all the hobby options for things like thin plywood puzzles and building doll houses and scale furniture I wonder if we could urge a company of this sort to come up with a similar router cutter that works for plywood and hardboard up to 3mm thick.  Such a machine could cut balsa up to the same 3mm and allow us to produce parts pretty quickly and easily.
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C/L Gee Bee
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2014, 07:07:05 PM »

Weigh the options:  How much are laser blades?
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Dave Andreski
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2014, 07:15:50 PM »

Weigh the options:  How much are laser blades?

Sorry,
What's a 'laser blade'?
Thanks,
Dave
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randoloid
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« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2018, 07:00:15 PM »

I've got the Cricut Explore Air and "think" I've finally perfected cutting 1/16 balsa-  I draw original files in Adobe illustrator, export as a SVG file.  My tips are similar to most-  

  • Do Crosscuts first
  • The order of the cuts will follow the order of the layers (from bottom to top)
  • Shapes even follows the order of the points drawn to make the shape... so plan accordingly - Make all crosscuts start from the same side and line them up for efficiency.
  • The machine doesn't do well with corners or tight turn angles. --I add a very small radius curve into tight turns.
  • For notches I only make the cross cuts, and finish the with the grain cut by hand.
Quick sketch added to aid my poor description but will most likely confuse you more Wink
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Re: Could you cut Balsa with this?
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retired1
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« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2018, 12:35:13 PM »

Brother makes a scan and cut  where you can scan in any design and then cut it or multiples of it. It will cut thin leather and most cloth. They say that it will cut cork, but have not seen it do that.  It would take more than one pass to cut 1/8th inch or so balsa. Depth of cut is adjustable.  You can import from a computer also.
Negatives--The listed cost is a bit high for anybody but serious builders.  The knife does wear out with ese and is around $20 for a replacement.
Wife is not hot about me using hers for balsa, but if I get serious, I will just buy my own knife.
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DaleH
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« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2018, 03:57:33 PM »

I certainly do see the attraction to being able to accurately create parts from your own computer files as I have been there but I sincerely believe the craft machines are too light duty for what we'd be asking from them. Even if they work out for small indoor models, wouldn't it be nice to cut the odd piece of 1/8 balsa or even light ply?

When I felt this "urge" I went straight to the laser cutters. Too much money and then there's the venting, learning a new technology from a standing start, etc. Next, I looked at CNC routers. Too big, too expensive, but there was a lot online about building hobby sized ones from scratch. I built the one in this book, "Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) 1st ed. Edition" from Amazon. The book gets you a cheap to build from local materials, decent (not the latest or even slightly cutting edge technology here) and surprisingly accurate CNC router that is certainly good enough for our hobby work. I bought a cheap 4 axis (cheaper than a 3 axis one at the time which meant some spare components-just in case) CNC kit on eBay from China and installed LinuxCNC on a cheap PC (had to have an old time parallel port for timing reasons) and set out to learn about how this is all done.

I won't lie. The learning curve was very steep. First off, there was no info with the electronics kit on how to wire up all the components. The book was only of limited help as it described different components than what I had. I finally found a usable wiring diagram online and that got me through that stage. Let me tell you that from my perspective, there is a lot of detailed work involved to get it all done. It helped to screw everything to a base of MDF and to keep it all as neat as possible for troubleshooting later on. And there will be trouble to shoot, trust me.

Once it was all wired up and I booted up LinuxCNC and had a basic configuration saved, it was a huge thrill to see the motors spin and the gantry move (albeit only manually) for the first time. Now it needed to be calibrated on each axis. It took awhile but eventually with a fair bit of trial and error but I eventually got to within a small fraction of a mm for accuracy. Then there was the software for CAD/CAM. I was lucky to find QCAD/CAM which could output simple 2D cut files on my Mac and then I'd transfer them to the Linux box in the shop for cutting.

I will admit that I wasted lots of scrap balsa and foam in the beginning and I still do screw up now and then but nothing beats seeing dozens of absolutely identical wing ribs being produced with no effort or fuss.

Admittedly, I usually use the CNC router on larger projects but I have used it to cut out peanut scale parts (with a 0.2 mm bit!) that were just perfect. Remember that the time it takes to create cut files from your plans will be about the same as sitting down and just cutting then out. This is especially true of small planes like peanuts. However, if you design your own planes in CAD and/or need multiple sets of parts (club builds and the like) then a CNC machine will save you tons of time.

Having said all of that, if anyone is so inclined and is willing to persevere, I highly recommend following up on those "urges" with whatever kind of machine interests you.

My two cents worth. Good luck!
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2018, 08:01:09 AM »

I started out using a craft cutter (Sizzix) and it would cut 1/16 balsa with no issues except cross grain cuts to make notches didn't work great.  I still use the craft cutter for decal work but I got a low power (2.5 watt) laser cutter and it can cut up to 1/8" probably more just never needed to cut anything thicker.  The low powered lasers do a much better job with cross grain cuts so it will make really tight fitting notches.  It will cut plywood as long as it is "laser approved"  the glue can be a problem.  I have cut 1/8" plywood....it takes about 4 to 5 passes. You can get a low power laser for under $200 in a kit form.  I have also purchased a 3d printer and my next project for it is to build a small CNC router that will use a dremel for the router.  I am getting the plans off of Thingiverse and it looks like the design will work pretty decent.....I still need to make out a parts list to figure out how much it would cost as you can buy kits in the $200 range.
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