Week 2: 2D cutting

When given the assignment to design a press-fit construction kit out of laser-cut parts, I immediately thought how cool it would be to make something that could be reconfigured into many different animal shapes. Unfortunately, it now seems that it was going to take too long to handle the two competing goals of having something be very modular and make cool, specific-looking things. I started out by designing a few squares withthe right-shaped cutouts in the sides for press-fits.

A pile of laser-cut partsFirst parts: My original attempts involved mostly square parts, whose simplicity made them good as a first iteration.

The laser cutter in action.

The laser cutter: Here, cutting the first example parts.

For this project, I designed my parts in Solidworks and cut on the big laser cutter in Stan's shop in the Jefferson Lab basement at Harvard. Although the cutter was very fast, designing the parts took some time so it took me several iterations of the parts to complete my construction kit.I lucked out in terms of designing the slots the first time, as my best guess at the right width was pretty close to right-on. Now that I've finished I can say that my slots are not deep enough for a very solid press-fit, but the width of the slots are pretty much perfect.

I attempted to make an animal out of these, and realized that flat round joints were better than square joints, and that I should really make ball joints to the extent that I could. This allowed the first animal I made to come together ok:
The first animal

The first dog: It's almost a little cute. Definitely could've used some more realistic joints, and especially more of the 8-slot round ones.

The second animal.

The second animal: Although larger, this dog had the downside of starting to fall apart due to the weight of the cardboard being too much for the joints.

After going back into SolidWorks to rethink my parts, I attempted two things that I could tell were necessary after my first attempts with squares: Bigger ball joints and long straight pieces. Both cut fine, and allowed me to put together a much larger, more interesting animal, a dog with a curved back and multi-jointed legs. I also built a tent-like thing, but one of my ball-joints printed wrong and so the top of the tent is a little wonky.

The full construction kit

The completed construction kit: It was big enough that I could've built even more things out of it, but I could've used some more ball joints.