Custom Laser Cut Parts – Part I

After much struggles with trying to make some perfectly circular rings for the paddlewheels on my USS Saginaw model, I’m about to try my last resort, custom laser cutting. So, a few months back, I found a company in Nevada that seemed like they might be reasonably priced, and this week I finally broke down to give them a try.

The company is called Pololu (http://www.pololu.com) and they’re located in Las Vegas, Nevada. They actually specialize in robotics and electronics supplies, but they also offer a custom laser cutting service.

I always assumed that such services would be outrageously expensive, but when their website suggested that you can get started with making custom laser-cut parts for only $25, that was enough to get me interested.

There are various requirements and restrictions regarding their laser cutting service. First, there is the art work. They can create artwork for you if you provide sketches, but for something as exacting as shipmodeling, you’re probably going to have to provide the artwork yourself. Fortunately for me, they take not only AutoCAD files, they also take Adobe Illustrator files. Having some past experience with Illustrator, I’ll be seeing how well I can draw up the parts I might need.

Another requirement is that while they can laser cut all kinds of wood and plastics, in terms of metals, they can only cut stainless steel. I was hoping to cut brass, but I’ll give steel a shot. If I’m attaching the rings to wooden spokes, I might be able to use CA. I’m not sure, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I made the artwork and I decided to try adding some fine holes so that I can run pins through the steel and into the wooden spokes to help hold them firmly. It’s all experimental right now, so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Hess-Rings-Stars

I did send the artwork today and they had a problem and asked me to save the file down to Illustrator CS5 (I’m using Illustrator CC, which is the next version after CS6). An email from the guy at Pololu today confirmed that the file looks good and I should expect a quote in the next day or two.

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