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Big Blue Saw Blog

General Updates

Save On Custom Aluminum December 11 & 12

 

Our last sale of 2017 lets you save on our most popular material: aluminum 6061 in 0.25 inch (1/4" or 6.35 mm) thickness.

During the sale, parts using this stock material and ordered online will automatically receive a quantity discount, no matter the size of the order! If you've never ordered from us before, a sale is the best time to try our services. And aluminum 6061 can be used in a tremendous variety of applications. It's lightweight, strong, and weldable, with good thermal and electrical conductivity. We've had customers use aluminum 6061 in literally hundreds of applications including bearing blocks, baseplates, jigs, fixtures, extruder dies, and much more.

Read more about customers who love Big Blue Saw.

How much can you save with our quantity discounts? Check out these examples:

 

This 21x21 inch robot baseplate normally goes for $172.20 when waterjet cut from 0.25 inch thick aluminum 6061. During the sale, you can get the quantity 10 price even when ordering as little as 1 piece. That brings the price down to $125.20, or 27% off.

 

For smaller parts, the deal is even better. This gearbox plate at 4.7x4.4 inches would normally be $92.10 when ordering 1 waterjet cut from aluminum 6061 in 0.25 inch thickness. But during the sale, you can get it for $12.60, the same price as if you had ordered 10. That's 86% off the regular price.

This is Big Blue Saw's last sale of the year, so act now byuploading your design to our online quoting and ordering system. The sale starts Monday, December 11 and ends Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

 

Sale Coming Next Week: Aluminum 6061 0.25"

Get your designs ready now. Next week, Big Blue Saw will be having a sale on custom waterjet cut parts. Orders of aluminum 6061 in 0.25 inch (1/4" or 6.35 mm) will automatically receive a quantity discount. The sale is for 2 days only: Monday, December 11 and Tuesday, December 12. Upload your design to our online quoting system to make sure that you are ready to order when the sale begins.

Why Is My CAD File So Big? Reducing DXF File Bloat

At Big Blue Saw, we get a lot of DXF files from our customers, and some of the file sizes are just too big. Sometimes even simple designs can result in huge file sizes, making them inconvenient to store, e-mail, load into CAD programs or use to get a quote in our online quoting and ordering system. Let's look at problems that bloat file size and how we can slim down the files so that they're more managable.

First, keep in mind that there is a certain amount of overhead associated with the DXF file format. This overhead varies based on the DXF version used. The DXF format originated with AutoCAD, the granddaddy of all 2D CAD software. As AutoCAD added more features with each release, the file format changed. Versions of the DXF format are named based on the AutoCAD version where they were first introduced. Some popular versions include R12 (AutoCAD version 12), R15 (AutoCAD 2000, the 15th relase of AutoCAD), and R32, from the 32nd release of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2018, the latest as of this writing. (All of this also applies to the DWG file format as well.) In general, the newer DXF formats have more overhead, meaning that the files eat up more storage.

Consider this simple 8 inch square, drawn in QCad. Let's see how the various DXF versions affect the size of the file when it's saved.

square r27.dxf

When saving as an R12 DXF in QCad, the file size is 17,392 bytes. Saving as an R27 DXF, though, balloons file file size up to 101,172 bytes, a 5.8x increase.

We have some custom tools that we use internally at Big Blue Saw to manipulate DXF files, and using those, we can strip the file down to a puny 469 bytes!

But that's not always the whole story. Take a look at the design below, again made with QCad. The internal holes are made using the spline tool.

test1r27.dxf

QCad lets us save as both an R12 DXF and an R27 DXF. Here are the file sizes for both versions:

 Version  Size
 R12  176,226 bytes
 R27  136,518 bytes

Unlike in the previous example, the R12 file is actually much larger.

Let's take a closer look at what's going on. If you zoom in on one of the irregularly shaped holes you can see that the spline has been turned into a series of small lines.

test closeup

This is because R12 and earlier DXF versions do not support splines directly. So QCad, like many CAD tools, converts these splines into tiny lines in order to approximate the true shape. With all of these lines, the file size increased dramatically.

Again, at Big Blue Saw we have a tool we use internally which can turn both splines and curves made of many segments into smooth circular arcs which are compatible with the R12 DXF format. You can do this manually by drawing arcs on top of the shape in a new layer. After running this tool, the file size is only 61,851 bytes, less than half size of the R27 version with the splines. The image below gives you an idea of what the arc segments look in the updated file.

test closeup smoothed

Another common source of file bloat comes from tracing bitmap (AKA raster) images to vector format. If we use an automatic tracing tool on the raster image below, we can produce a DXF file.

trace test The DXF file that results from the trace is 15,752 bytes.

Again, if we zoom on the details in the design, we can see that it's made from hundreds of tiny segments.

traced close

Replacing those segments with smooth circular arcs brings the file size down by half.

traced close smooth

The resulting file is just 7600 bytes.

There's one final source of file bloat I want to show you: unused blocks. Here's a file sent to us by a customer (slightly modified to protect the customer's design). 

excess blocks.dxf

This simple design clocks in at a whopping 7.3 megabytes. It's not made up of a zillion tiny lines like in the previous examples, either, just a simple curve at the top and 3 line segments. So why is the file size so huge? Opening the file in QCad gives us the answer.

show blocklist

There are hundreds of unused blocks in this design. Fixing the file size is a matter of deleting the unused blocks or copying the visible design and pasting it into a new file. (A similar problem can occur with unused or invisible layers as well.)

This reduces our 7.3 megabyte behemoth to a much more managable 16,042 bytes.

Sale On Custom Aluminum November 20-21

multilayout1

This is the sale you've been waiting for: 1/8 inch aluminum 6061.  This stock doesn't go on sale often, but is wildly popular when it does. Aluminum 6061's combination of high strength, light weight, and low cost makes this a sale not to be missed. Simply place your order online for waterjet cut parts Monday, November 20 or Tuesday, November 21 and you will automatically receive a discount.

If you've never used our service before, this is a great time to start turning your designs into custom parts. 

Questions and Answers about Big Blue Saw's Sale On 1/8 Inch Aluminum 6061

  • What is on sale?
    Custom parts from your designs made using waterjet aluminum 6061 alloy in 1/8 inch (0.125" or about 3.2 mm) thickness. Low-taper is not on sale.
  • How much will I save?
    Orders as small as 1 part will automatically receive the quantity 10 discounted price. The dollar amount depends on the design and quantity ordered. 
  • How can I order with the sale price?
    Just upload your design to our online quoting and ordering system, and check out through the website shopping cart. You will automatically receive the discount price when placing your order. No need to use coupon codes or other tricks.
  • I don't have a design. How can I make one?
    Use your favorite CAD or vector image software. If you don't have this kind of software, check out our list of free or low-cost alternatives. Or read about how to format PNG and GIF files for use with Big Blue Saw.
  • I didn't hear about your sale until just now and don't have time to get my design ready. When is your next sale?
    Sign up for our mailing list to get early notifications about the next sale.
  • I have special requirements for shipping, secondary machining, or rush processing my order. Can I still get the sale price?
    To get the sale price, orders must be placed through the website. So typically we cannot accommodate special requests for sale parts.

Remember, this sale ends Tuesday, November 21, so get started by uploading your designs now.

Early Notice: Sale on Waterjet Cut Aluminum Coming November 20-21

Here's a heads-up for those of you who like custom parts and saving money. Starting Monday, November 20, and running through Tuesday, November 21, Big Blue Saw will be having a sale on waterjet cut parts made from 0.125 inch thick aluminum 6061. Note that this sale is only 2 days, so you'll have to act quickly once the sale begins.

Don't wait until the last minute to finish your designs. Get ready now by uploading your CAD files to our online quoting system.

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Big Blue Saw
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Waterjet and Laser Cut Custom Parts.
Address for correspondence only:
3522 Ashford Dunwoody Rd NE #145
Atlanta, GA 30319
Phone: (678) WAY-SAW4 (678) 929-7294