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Big Blue Saw Blog General Updates

Laser Cut Cake Topper

Need a cake topper for your wedding? Looking for something that embraces your unique sense of style on your wedding day? If you’re a maker like me, the options offered in most stores don’t quite meet your tastes. Here is how to make an elegant cake topper for your wedding laser cut from acrylic.

Because EVERYTHING'S better with lasers. 

The first step is to open Inkscape and type out the initials and ampersand as separate text boxes.

 

Don’t have Inkscape? You can download it here for free! Inkscape is a free imaging program that you can use to create everything from printed programs to vector files for cutting parts.

Now to find a font that suits my taste. For this I’m doing Mike’s M in a more masculine font, while for my J, I think I’ll go with more of a script. I’ve been really loving the current trend of mixed font styles for wedding things.

Then I used the pointer tool to scale and move them around into a placement that looks good to my eye.

See how both the letters and the ampersand are touching each other? That is intentional. When the laser cutter goes to cut these out, having the overlaps of the letters will allow all of the parts of the letters to be supported.

Speaking of support, now I need to plan out how this is going to sit on or in the cake. Making a base that sits flat on top of the cake would work, but I think I’d like this to float above the cake. So it will need a point like the one on a cupcake topper to plant into the top of the cake.

 

Using the rectangle tool I create a bottom support bar and a box for the point. Then using the Bezier curves and straight lines tool I draw the anchor point in the lower box.

 

Now I can delete the bottom box.

 

 

Now it is time to get all of these different parts joined so that the CAD software will read them as one part. To do that, we should change the view to Outline mode.

 

 

When you do this, you’ll notice that any shapes that have a fill become outlines. In the image above, the letters haven’t done this because they are designated as letters and not shapes. We need to change them to shapes so that we can merge them together and with the support bar and anchor point.

First you click on the letter, then go to Path in the menu bar and select Object to Path.

 

Now the M is a path and not a letter. Do this for the other letters. Then select each letter and go to Object in the menu bar, and select Ungroup. This gets rid of the last of the text formatting.

Now to get them merged. Select two of the parts.

 

Go to Path in the menu bar and select Union. This will merge them into one shape. Do this for the remaining parts.

 

 

Now save this as a DXF file in the File tab of the menu bar. I like to also save an SVG of the finished file for later edits.

So when Inkscape saves a drawing as a DXF, it sometimes adds extra lines in tight corners. So to clean up the file before I upload it to the website, I’m going to open it in LibreCAD and take a closer look at it. I’ll also re-save it as a R12 DXF file. This helps scrub out some of the background formatting so the file is a little easier for the quoting software to read.

 

 

All clean and pretty.

If I did have extra lines in there, what I would have done would be to click on the extra lines and get all of them selected. When Inkscape does this during a DXF conversion you’ll notice that clicking on the extra line also usually selects some of the lines around them. Leave those selected too and then go to the menu bar and open the Modify menu, and select Explode.

Now you should be able to select the extra lines without any of the connecting lines being selected. Select and delete the extra lines until none of the extra lines remain.

Now it is time to upload to the website. Go to the front page and click the orange Get an Immediate Quote Button.

In the Make a Part page I Click the Choose File button (red arrow).

Then I click the Upload button (blue arrow).

 

The next page the website will take you to is the materials list where you pick your material. But there are a few helpful tools on this page that you’ll want to know about before we rush on to the quote.

In the upper left you can see a rendering of my part. When you upload a file, the quoting software evaluates it to make sure that it is something we can cut. If there are unconnected endpoints, or doubled up lines, instead of taking you to the materials page, there would be an error message and an orange link at the top of the page to see a diagnostic of my part.

This part doesn’t have any errors, but we should first check that the sizing is correct. The part size is highlighted in the image below. If I wanted a cake topper that was larger, say 7 inches wide instead of the 6.5 inches we see here, I would click the Resize this design button (red arrow). The page that it will take you to will allow you to scale your part up or down proportionally.

Or if I wanted one cake topper in this size and a whole bunch of cupcake toppers that were smaller, I could place an order for the regular size one. Then go back, resize to 3 inches wide and then checkout with 100 of these that were smaller.

 

I like the size that this is, so I’m going to select acrylic for my material, and select the brushed steel/black acrylic material.

 

Click on the thickness, and it will take me to the quoting page where I can see pricing.

 

 

The quoting page has a few features you should check before clicking the Order Custom Parts button.

Firstly, double check all the measurements (highlighted yellow here). This is our version of measure twice, cut once.

Secondly, be sure that your part looks correct in the 3D renderings on the right (red star) and in the 2D rendering in the Part Details at the bottom of the page (red arrow).

If I wasn’t sure that I wanted the brushed steel/black acrylic, I can see what my part would run in other materials and thicknesses by clicking the Change Material button. That will take you back to the materials page where you can select other materials.

You can see the finished part below. I think it turned out great and works well.

Inkscape made it easy to create this design and has a wonderful community of users ready to help.

If I was to do this project again, I'd consider scaling the design down to create a bunch of cupcake sided toppers.

If you haven't yet, download design software from our recommended software page, and upload your design to our online quoting and ordering system today.

 
 
 

Audio Control Panel By Mystery Engineer

We received these photos from an engineer who, rather enigmatically, wishes to remain anonymous. So we can't tell you who he is.

We can tell you that this assembly was waterjet cut from 1/16 inch thick aluminum 6061, with Basic Finish applied. The front panel was painted white by our mystery maker.

There are 3 waterjet cut pieces: the front, back, and inner shelf.

The shelf is held in place using angle aluminum, as you can see in the photos below. (I would have suggested using nutstrip instead, as it saves the trouble of making a custom angle bracket.)

The front and back are held together with long standoffs. You can read about this and more types of assembly on our Construction Techniques page.

 

Have you created control panels you'd like to share? Let us know!

Ed's BB-8 Drive Now On Astromech Parts Page

BB8drive

We've had a number of customers over the past year building their very own BB-8 astromech droid. One of the more popular designs for the internal drive mechanism comes from Edsjunk.net. We have had a number of other people inquiring about the design, but who haven't had the complete design ready for our online quoting and ordering system. So with Ed's permission, we've added all of the drive parts as a single design to our Astromech Droid Parts page.

If you are building a BB-8 style droid, be sure to review Ed's BB-8 Build Guide. You should also stop by the BB-8 Builders Club and review the forum thread on building based on Ed's design.

Ed has a lot of other interesting projects and information for makers on his website as well. I was especially impressed by his system for hardware and wire organization.

You can see in the video below how the whole thing comes together.

Check out all of the Astromech part designs on the Astromech example parts page. And if you're building your own droid with parts from Big Blue Saw, be sure to let us know!

Custom Stainless Steel Parts On Sale November 7-9

Starting Monday, November 7, Big Blue Saw is having a sale on stainless steel parts made from your designs. During the sale, all 304 stainless steel parts parts in 0.25 inch and 0.12 inch thickness ordered through our online quoting and ordering system will automatically receive a quantity discount. The sale ends on Wednesday, November 9.

Big Blue Saw's waterjet cutting process can turn your ideas into real stainless steel parts. If you've never ordered from Big Blue Saw before, this is a great time to try out our service.

Stainless steel number 7, custom waterjet cut with simulated bevel.

If you're making a a sign, control panel, or anything that needs to look good, you'll love stainless steel 304's luxurious appearance. Its corrosion resistance makes it a good choice for stencils and anything subjected to corrosive environments like cookware, the outside of a vehicle, or outdoors.

Stainless steel bottle openers.

Stainless steel Cobra brake brackets.

In addition, its toughness and density makes stainless steel 304 a great choice for fighting robot armor or drum weapons.

Stainless steel butterfly with Basic Finish.

 

Stainless steel 304 is non-magnetic and is sometimes referred to as "18/8 stainless" because it typically contains about 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

Stainless steel trivet links.

Stainless steel number 8 with simulated bevel.

Keep in mind that parts ordered during the sale will take a little longer to ship than our regular orders. We make great prices possible during the sale by gathering up all sale orders and cutting them at the same time. We expect sale orders to start shipping around November 17.

 

Stainless steel wedding cake topper.

Don't wait! Get started by uploading your design to our online quoting system now.

Waterjet cutting image© Steve Brown Photography CC-BY-SA-3.0 

 
 

Stainless steel sale coming November 7-9

Here's an early heads up: Big Blue Saw will be having a sale Monday,  November  7 through Wednesday, November 9 on stainless 304 in 0.12" and 0.25" thickness. This is for  custom waterjet cut parts. Get your designs ready now.

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