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Big Blue Saw Blog

Announcing: the World's First API for Makers

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I created Big Blue Saw based on the idea that inexpensive, customized manufactured parts should be more widely and more easily available to everyone. So I'm happy to announce today there is a new way to access Big Blue Saw's services.

I was recently contacted by the founders of a startup who wanted to add Big Blue Saw quoting to their website. (Watch the blog for details of the arrangement.) To do this, they needed a way to access Big Blue Saw's online quoting information. My solution was to create an easy to use web based API which gives them pricing and other data they can embed in their website.

Now the same API is available to everyone. Where and how it's useful will depend entirely on our users. Here are some suggested applications that make good use of the API:

  • A "Get Quote" button on a CAD drawing package that lets you instantly receive a price for the part you're designing.
  • A software package that helps waterjet shops quickly estimate quotes.
  • A price comparison website which allows customers to easily get competing quotes for custom parts, like Google Shopping does for consumer goods.
  • A website that lets you customize parts like, say, gears, electronic enclosures, or licence plate frames and gives you an instant quote for the price.

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Continue reading for the technical details of how it works.

Technical Details

*This is an early testing (Alpha) release of the API, so be aware that details may change at any time.*

Here's the technical details of how it works: your client application sends a POST request to the Big Blue Saw website with a URL that looks some thing like this:

http://www.bigbluesaw.com/saw/index2.php?option=com_estimator&task=upload&step=10&api=1&material=XXX&thickness=YYY

Replace XXX with the material ID of the material you want to use and YYY with the thickness in inches of the part. The request should also contain a file in the form of a multipart form data upload of a DXF file with the "name" value set to "upload". The file must be formatted according to Big Blue Saw's guidelines for formatting vector files.

Current material IDs:

The file components/com_estimator/tmpl/materialIdList.php does not exist or is not readable!

If everything goes correctly, you will get an XML result that includes some basic information about the dimensions of the part, as well as the cost for making different quantities of the part with various machining techniques.

<quoteResponse>
<storedFileName>J1F1-A2B4-A0A0-A0A0-bfly-small.dxf</storedFileName>
<imageUrl>http://www.bigbluesaw.com/saw/comp...all.dxf</imageUrl>
  <size>
    <width unit="inches">1.800</width>
    <height unit="inches">1.950</height>
  </size>
  
    <material id="7">Aluminum 6061</material>
        <thickness unit="inches">0.25</thickness>
    <quoteList>
 <quote>
  <process>low-taper waterjet</process>
    <quantity min='1'  max='4'>100.5</quantity>
    <quantity min='5'  max='9'>20.1</quantity>
    <quantity min='10'  max='49'>12.66</quantity>
    <quantity min='50'  max='99'>9.22</quantity>
    <quantity min='100'  max='999'>8.87</quantity>
    <quantity min='1000'  max='999999'>8.55</quantity>
 </quote>
 <quote>
  <process>waterjet</process>
    <quantity min='1'  max='4'>81.1</quantity>
    <quantity min='5'  max='9'>16.22</quantity>
    <quantity min='10'  max='49'>10.21</quantity>
    <quantity min='50'  max='99'>7.43</quantity>
    <quantity min='100'  max='999'>7.15</quantity>
    <quantity min='1000'  max='999999'>6.9</quantity>
 </quote>
</quoteList>

If the system is unable to process the request into a quote for whatever reason, you will get a message with a list of <quoteError> items.

<quoteResponse>
<storedFileName>N9P8-C7Q0-A0A0-A0A0-bfly-small.dxf</storedFileName>
<imageUrl>http://www.bigbluesaw.com/saw/comp...fly-small.dxf</imageUrl>
  <size>
    <width unit="inches">1.800</width>
    <height unit="inches">1.950</height>
  </size>
  
 <quoteErrors>
   <quoteError>Unable to find stock for material 
       999999 and thickness 0.25.</quoteError>
 </quoteErrors>

</quoteResponse>

Sample code for accessing the API, in Java.

Let us know if you're planning any interesting projects using the API by posting here, or e-mailing us.

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