Tuan Makes Almost Anything


Making Composites: Rat Igloo

With all the other projects, coming up with the ideas was sometimes the hardest part. So hard that it takes more days to figure out than to actually make the thing a reality. Thankfully I didn't have to scratch my head too hard. After seeing some composite pipes and composite bowls in class during lecture, I got the inspiration to do something similar and make a composite igloo for my rats! I already had a set of pipe tunnels for them, so this design is made to replace one part of the tunnel system.

  • Technology: Burlap and Resin
  • Week: 9

I used Fusion 360 to design my project this week. Considering how simple a design it already is, it took me a cinch. Learning from Week 8, I didn't want to make a toolpath and learn that I couldn't even use it, so I stopped at just modeling it.

Trust me, it's an igloo.

I then took my design to lab and asked my TA's what to do next. I had once remembered them saying that the router could mill up to 6" of material, so I made sure that my design was only 6" max. I had measured the foam pieces to be 2" prior, so I imagined that I would glue several foam pieces together and then either mill the igloo shape or the negative of the igloo. However, the Gavin was pretty adamant about not milling stacks of foam, and also advised me to reduce the height of my design so that I would need fewer foam pieces. Also, for time reasons (also feasibility) I decided to mill the negative of the igloo instead of the igloo itself.

Still an igloo

Next, to actually mill the pieces. I originally used the default 0.25" endmill, but at the rate the router was going, it would have taken over two hours, which is significant considering I have two pieces to mill out! So Dave had the idea of switching the 0.25" endmill for the 0.50" endmill, which (expectedly) cut the cutting time in half. The router itself worked very similarly to the large shopbot we used for Week 5's project, so I didn't have many problems while using it.

Completed mold

I was quite surprised at how good of a surface finish the 0.50" endmill could achieve! It felt perfectly smooth and round. When both pieces were finished being milled, I just glued them together so I could start the actual composite-making process