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Author Topic: Craft Cutter used to cut balsa - proof of concept  (Read 4304 times)
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pedwards2932
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« on: June 09, 2015, 09:42:16 PM »

I purchased a Sissix Eclips a few months back and did a few experimental cuts of 1/16 balsa and it seemed to work.  I got the ECAL (cuts a lot) software with it.  The cutter was $200 and software about $50.  You can scan a plan or get a plan from the gallery.  What I did is scan a plan that I had and cropped out just the wing ribs.  I cleaned up the edges of the scan with GIMP (free photo editing program)  Then you open the ECAL software and it has a trace feature which traced all the rib outlines and makes it into a svg that the cutter uses to make the cut.  If you look at the picture of the Eclips you see a platen that has a sticky surface.  You stick the balsa on the platen then use clear packing tape and tape the surface of the balsa (this keeps it from splitting).  I ran the cut pattern twice first cut was light maybe 1/64 second pass was about 3/64.  I didn't make a third pass because I figured I could use an exacto and make the final cut.  This worked great very easy to follow the cut.  It would go to 1/16 with the blade I had in but I didn't think I needed to.  It takes it about 2 minutes to make one cut pass of all the ribs you see in the picture.  I laid them over the plan so you could see how accurate it was.  I know it isn't laser but I only have $250 in the set up.  The ribs you see took about 5 min to cut with the machine and a couple of minutes to get them out with the exacto and do a quick edge sanding.  Let  me know what you think.  This machine can also be used to cut out decals and vinyl  cutting so you can use it for more than just balsa.
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Craft Cutter used to cut balsa - proof of concept
Craft Cutter used to cut balsa - proof of concept
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rgroener
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2015, 01:18:06 AM »

Thats interesting, thanks for sharing.
It could be also useful for cutting the lettering. Esprecially with small sizes. I always find it hard to cut them accurate by hand.
Roman
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2015, 06:37:32 AM »

The software is pretty good for that.  The cutter has a laser that picks up registration marks you add to your print then it will cut exactly around the edges of whatever you have printed.  It does a great job with decals as you can set the depth of cut very precisely so it only cuts the decal not the backing.  The balsa cut really cleanly.  The only issue is it is really designed to cut 1/32" max with the blades from the manufacturer but as it uses Roland cutter blades you can get the 60 degree cutter and it will cut 1/16".  With that blade you have to be careful with the cuts because the blade sticks out enough to drag across the balsa  when it moves from one rib to another.  I didn't make the cutter put in notches except on one rib and it worked for it but I think if you made a lot of notches it may cause issues.  When I get ready to do some formers I am going to see how well the notches work.  Overall I am really pleased with the result...I went essentially from a picture of ribs to a cutting pattern in a matter of minutes.  Once you have the project set up it is just a matter of loading it and putting the balsa and hit start and 2 passes and you have it.
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2015, 07:51:34 PM »

Haven't seen much interest in this but here are some screen shots of the process of taking a scanned section of plan and converting it to a cut file.
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Re: Craft Cutter used to cut balsa - proof of concept
Re: Craft Cutter used to cut balsa - proof of concept
Re: Craft Cutter used to cut balsa - proof of concept
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George770
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2015, 04:24:03 PM »

What you have come up with is cool. Can you post a video from initial concept, and during production? Would be great to see on youtube.com

Great job!
George770
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RolandD6
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2015, 05:18:36 PM »

I have taken note of what you are doing and look at similar equipment whenever I visit a craft shop. The Brother m/c seems to be the most common whenever I look but it is not clear to me if it would be totally suitable. It has a built in scanner so that crafts people do not need  computer. It is also rather expensive at circa A$400.

Currently I am dealing with a new 3D printer so I am not looking for further expenses or challenges in the near future.

Paul

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pedwards2932
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2015, 07:11:24 PM »

I got the Sizzix online from Amazon.....you can buy it directly from them as well.  I got the Sizzix because of the amount of pressure it applies (650 grams).  The KnK Zing was a little stronger at (750gms) but it was closer to 400 when I found the Sizzix for 200.  Quick search on Amazon and you can get a new one for 275.00 used for 205.  Mine was considered used but the owner never opened the box and I got it for 200.  The amount of pressure it can exert is important with balsa. I can't find any cutting pressure listed for the brother but I did find this:

Unlike the Silhouette CAMEO, Sizzix eclips and pretty much every other personal electronic cutting machine on the market, the Brother ScanNCut does not give you a direct interface for cutting SVG files. This means that you cannot connect the machine directly to a computer.

When I get some free time I will take a video of the cut process...... it really goes pretty fast......I want to try some more complicated cuts to see how it handles it.  I am pretty busy right now though.   It is definitely not laser but the cuts seem pretty clean to me.  You can also get a pen holder for it and it will draw as well, haven't tried this but it would give you a way to print directly to balsa.
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OZPAF
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2015, 07:34:59 PM »

An interesting approach to handling small part production. does the balsa travel pass the knife or does the knife track over the sheet balsa? Also you mentioned that you cover the balsa with clear tape to avoid splitting. Do you think that there would be problems with handling soft balsa or perhaps C grain?

John
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2015, 06:40:16 AM »

The cutter blade works much the same as a printer.  The cutter movers left and right on the x axis and the platen which carries the balsa moves on the y axis forward and backward.  The blade is in a holder that is spring loaded and the depth is controlled by rotating a sleeve on the blade holder.  In the cutting program you can set how fast you want it to cut and how much pressure to apply.   It also allows you to set the offset of the blade depending on which blade angle you are using.  I am using a 60 degree blade which allows for up to 1/16 inch cut it is not the standard blade which is 45 degree and will cut up to 1/32 inch.

So far is has cut any balsa I have used (it is designed to handle chip board which I think is harder than balsa).  Since balsa has a grain it seems to work better if you make a score cut first.  I have tried 3 cut passes on harder balsa and 2 cut passes on softer.  I think after I play with it for a while I will be able to determine what settings work best.  It really makes a cut pass faster than what I estimated probably under a minute and it on takes a couple of turns on the blade depth and you can run the second pass.  I can cut out that set of ribs in a couple of minutes.

The reason I used the tape is it seems to hold the balsa firmly and I am not getting any splitting when I do that.  I have also tried cutting foam with it and wasn't very successful but I didn't use the tape.  The other thing the tape does is it gives a smooth surface for the blade holder to ride on.
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Greg Langelius
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2015, 08:55:31 AM »

"I didn't make a third pass because I figured I could use an exacto and make the final cut."

You may be able to skip the Exacto cut if you simply flip the balsa over and block sand the back side of the cut balsa sheet. This could also have a desired effect of making all the parts somewhat lighter in weight.

Greg
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2015, 09:10:36 AM »

Yes I have done that on Guillows kits and it works.  I was using contest grade scraps on the rib cuts and it was light and fairly easy to cut.  I want to try putting cut outs in the ribs to lighten them to see if that works as well.....if it does that would be pretty cool.  It would be pretty easy to add them in GIMP or you can actually use the graphics program that comes with ECAL to do it.  I really want to make it easy to do and since it works with a scanned image it may be just as easy to hand draw in the cut outs and scan.
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2015, 09:31:27 AM »

There are several reasons I have tried this method as opposed to laser or CNC.  One was the expense.  Ready made units were way above my budget.  If I built my own it is still fairly expensive and prone to problems.  You have to integrate with software that may or may not work properly or be really difficult to use.  The ECAL software allows you to use a regular old jpg and will trace and make a cut as simple as that. You can draw your parts by hand, scan them, have it cutting without ever using a CAD program. Another reason is because of the flying area I have I really like to stick with smaller planes under 30" wingspan so 1/16" depth of cut does just about anything I need. 

Also I have an interest in building with foam and while I haven't gotten it to cut foam properly it will cut stiff cardboard which I can affix to foam and use it for a wire cutter guide and it works perfectly for this.  Finally it has the ability with registration marks to cut our decals perfectly......I haven't tested this completely yet but since this is one of  the things the machine was designed to do I can only assume it will do that great.
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BBailey
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2015, 07:50:28 AM »

WOW ... that is fantastic. I've been trying to follow a DIY 3 Axis CAD/CAM Cutter that connects up to most Drawing Software. The guy only has the 3rd install of the project posted but it costs $1500.00, and it took 7.5 minutes to cut a 36"x4" balsa sheet of ribs. They were pretty good but still needed a little cleaning. The bed would take 60"x60"x5"piece of work and would do light metal as it used a router as a motor
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2015, 09:48:07 AM »

For what I am doing this is going to work.  The parts are easily as good as what Guillows gives you and you can use lighter wood.  What I have found is the Guillows drawings on the plan aren't very precise.  You can either trace them in a program like Inkscape or use tracing paper and trace by hand to fix any problems.  The parts I made with just using the scanned image will work fine with some minor sanding.
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spankbucket
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« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2015, 05:17:06 PM »

I have owned a Craft Robo for a few years. It seems to be (visually/price wise) the same as your Sissix.Huh

I have tried a couple of experiments recently to cut 1/32, 1/16 balsa and 2mm Depron. None of them have worked. It looks like I need to spend more time on this as your results are outstanding. As a half-way house I cut self adhesive vinyl patterns from the scanned plan outlines using the free Silhouette software and then apply them to the material and then cut manually. (the Robo has been reintroduced as the Silhouette).

Frankly I'm jealous of your results!!! LOL!!!!
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2015, 06:11:34 PM »

I couldn't find the cutting pressure on your machine.  The Silhouette Cameo doesn't have much pressure only 210 grams.  The Sizzix does about 650 grams.  Are you using clear packing tape over the balsa?  That is what seemed to work best for me.....that and making the first pass really light maybe 1/64 in.
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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2015, 05:02:43 PM »

What model is your Sizzix?  there are a few models out there and I'm not sure if they all allow you to use a laptop for input.  One model has a remote and some use cartridges.  Not sure which one would be right.  Thanks in advance.
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2015, 12:34:03 AM »

I have the older model with the remote and you can hook it up to the computer with no problems.  The remotes are more for the crafters that don't want to deal with a  computer.  It comes with ECAL software but it is the basic version. It costs about $50 to upgrade to the pro version of ECAL.  The software is the key to making it easy to use.
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Howie911
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2015, 12:23:39 PM »

Thanks for the quick response.  Much appreciated.
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BBailey
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2015, 03:45:48 PM »

I purchased a Sissix Eclips a few months back and did a few experimental cuts of 1/16 balsa and it seemed to work.

I was going to try a similar thing here in the USA. At Jo Anns, a Sewing/Fabric Center they had lessons on a new machine called a Cricket. The Cricket was used to cut Materials for Scrap Booking. It could could cut some deep cuts like for Framing. It was $200.00 and extra software cost extra. Cheap for what it did. It is now the Cricket Company with 2 new Machines, one a nice one that is like $240.00. I just looked at it. It has the same "sticky" board for the bottom. But it feeds from the top back at an upward angle. I would have to modify the machine. They will work for ribs Bulkheads, etc and other smaller items. ANY help is great.
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2015, 06:37:22 PM »

I think the Cricket uses proprietary software and there is no way to use any one elses.  The Cricket company sued ECAL to stop them from making software that would work with the Cricket. I think you have to order cartridges for the machine that will allow you only to cut the designs they have,  you can't really design your own.  That is unless they have changed there way of doing things.
 
Mainly you need one that has sufficient downward pressure...about 600 grams or more.  Then the only other limit I had is the thickness of the material....I think 1/16 is the limit on my machine.
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George770
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« Reply #21 on: December 24, 2015, 11:38:12 AM »

Does the sissix have the ability to work or cut from a 4 x 36 inch long piece of balsa?
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Robmoff
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« Reply #22 on: December 24, 2015, 11:52:03 AM »

Does the sissix have the ability to work or cut from a 4 x 36 inch long piece of balsa?

Yes, and no.  Wink
The material to be cut is attached to a sticky plastic carrier sheet 12X12 is standard 24X12 is an option. But since the path is flat you might get away with an overhang if you provide a bit of support and guidance! Your maximum cut will still be 24 inches.
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George770
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« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2015, 01:47:42 PM »

Does the sissix have the ability to work or cut from a 4 x 36 inch long piece of balsa?

Yes, and no.  Wink
The material to be cut is attached to a sticky plastic carrier sheet 12X12 is standard 24X12 is an option. But since the path is flat you might get away with an overhang if you provide a bit of support and guidance! Your maximum cut will still be 24 inches.


Thanks. 24" will work for ribs and formers. I'm thinking about biting the bullet and getting one. Much as I like to build, I don't mind taking short cuts!

George Albo
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pedwards2932
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« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2016, 08:14:55 PM »

Finally got a chance to do a quick video.  This shows 2 passes and you will see me adjust the depth between passes.  This is just a real quick video but if anybody is interested I will try to take the time and create a complete tutorial.  Here is the link:

https://youtu.be/QRvv4myOlFI
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