Ariel Ekblaw - HTMAA Portfolio

Computer-controlled cutting

This week, we explore rapid prototyping with a laser cutter and vinyl cutter. For the press-fit construction kit assignment, I have designed a modular labyrinth game, where the maze can be redesigned at whim. While making this initial prototype, I developed a follow-on idea of how to apply the labyrinth game model to space exploration--by modeling a Hohmann Transfer as a marble maze!

Below, you can find some initial sketches for the basic labyrinth board, and the concept for a Hohmann Transfer board. I focused on fabricating the former, but look forward to cutting the orbital board at some time in the future!

Labyrinth Sketch

To create a dxf vector file for the laser cutter, I returned to SolidWorks and made use of several parametric design tools. In order to minimize the number of dimensions I would need to change while testing for kerf and press-fit tightness, I used the "Linear Sketch Pattern" tool to pattern the surface with the tab holes for the divder walls. For other features, I used mirroring or cloned blocks, again, to keep the inputs parametric--to change an entire array of objects, I need only go back to a single input feature (in most cases). You can find the SolidWorks sketch file below:

Testing kerf width for the laser cutter turned out to be relatively straightforward, thanks to the group work and general consensus on both the laser cutter specs and the cardboard flexibility. My main adjustment to the initial drawing model was to reduce the length of the walls so that they did not intrude on adjacent parts. You can find examples of the laser cut products below:

Finally, the assembly! The game works as intended, the wall tabs fit snugly into their holes, and the game is dynamically re-arrangeable. I have included three different puzzle arrangements as examples, below:

Vinyl Cutting

The assignment for vinyl cutting was to simply produce something. Keeping with the space theme, I selected a snippet from the Star Trek opening monologue and vectorized a line drawing of the Starship Enterprise. You can see an intermediate stage of the vinyl cutting process here, where the text is weeded and attached to the transfer paper, and the Enterprise is mid-weeding. The second photo shows all pieces, ready for transfer to a smooth, clean surface.