Big  Blue Saw


Starting April 18, 2022, quoting and ordering will begin moving from Big Blue Saw to the Xometry website. You'll continue to be able to get fast service and instant quotes, in addition addition to a whole host of new materials and manufacturing processes!

General Updates

Spring Design Contest

Big Blue Saw is giving you the opportunity to show off your finest plans for creations to be made with waterjet cutting. The best design will receive a $300 gift certificate from Big Blue Saw for waterjet or laser cutting. Second place gets a $150 gift certificate. The theme for this challenge is "SPRING".

Read more about the Spring Design Contest and enter to win FREE waterjet cutting services from Big Blue Saw.

motorcycle oil tank

Congratulations to DJ Kasch, winner of Big Blue Saw's first photo contest. His photo of a motorcycle oil tank emerged victorious with 78 votes to 64 for the 2nd place entry. (We'll have more on the runner up soon.)

DJ is in the middle of a custom motorcycle build in collaboration with Handmade Industries of Salt Lake City, Utah. The frame is a chopped Harley Sportster, and DJ models all of his custom parts in SolidWorks before fabrication.

I'm also quite pleased that the waterjet cut parts in the photo were created by Big Blue Saw. When I talked to him on the phone, DJ told me they're "right to spec" from the SolidWorks drawing.

Future contestants take note: he won the contest by using the contest Share button and asking all of his friends to vote for him on Facebook. It spread so that DJ's friends were asking THEIR friends to vote for him.

You can catch some glimpses of the bike in progress on DJ's Instagram feed, as well as the Handmade Industries feed.

We've been hearing from our customers a lot recently about DraftSight, a 2D CAD design tool that is available for free from Dassault Systèmes. It has all the features you need to get started with creating CAD drawings for Big Blue Saw. It's available to download and use for free from the Dassault website for use with Windows, Linux, and Macintosh.

Here is a very brief, very basic tutorial on using DraftSight to create drawings for Big Blue Saw.

Step 1: Start DraftSight

Start DraftSight from the Start Menu, desktop icon, or however it works on your system. You'll see the main DraftSight window as shown below.

DraftSight window

Step 2: Choose the rectangle tool

The left hand toolbar shows a variety of drawing tools. In this tutorial, we'll be creating a simple rectangle. Click on the rectangle tool.

DraftSight rectangle tool

Step 3: Draw a rectangle

Click in the drawing area to define one corner of the rectangle.

DraftSight rectangle start

Then move the mouse and click on the diagonally opposite corner to define the other corner of the rectangle.

DraftSight rectangle end

You now have a CAD drawing of a rectangle.

Step 4: Save the file

Choose "File | Save As" from the menu.

Enter the file name in the appropriate box. Next, choose the file type from the drop down list. Here we're choosing "R2013 ASCII Drawing (*.dxf)". You want to pick one of the "ASCII DXF" file types for use with Big Blue Saw. enter the file name, choose file type

Click the "Save" button to complete saving the file. Congratulations! You now have your first DraftSight CAD drawing ready to use with Big Blue Saw's online quoting system.

Once you use Big Blue Saw to turn your rectangle design into a real part made out of metal or plastic, you could use it as a spacer, shim, bookmark, backing plate, or divider. It's not much to look at, but now that you've gotten started, you can play around with DraftSight and see its tools for making other shapes.

Want to know more? Let us know in the comments!

Carbon Fiber Parts

Announcing a brand new material: carbon fiber.

Many of our customers have been asking for this strong, lightweight material, and, after much experimentation, we now have a waterjet cutting process capable of creating great looking carbon fiber parts.

Our carbon fiber is stiff and has a shiny finish with a plain weave. In addition to the outstanding mechnical properties of the carbon fiber sheet, it looks gorgeous as well. The picture above doesn't really do it justice, as the appearance changes as the light catches it from different angles. So you can use carbon fiber to give your control panels and signs an ultra-modern, high-tech look.

I also expect we will see many orders for this material for small flying machines like drone copters, fighting robots, RC cars, handheld gadgets, and anywhere light weight and high strength are a must.

Keep in mind that due to the unusual nature of this material, there are a few small quirk relating to part geometry. First, we're offering parts up to 11.75 inches square in the online quoting system. Contact us by e-mail at if you need something bigger. Next, round holes down to 0.063 inches (about 1.5 mm) are OK; we'll be drilling those out instead of waterjet cutting them. Finally, internal holes that are NOT round must have a section at least 0.25 inches wide somewhere in them so we can drill a pilot hole for the waterjet. The online quoting system doesn't check for the last condition, so if you order a design that has a tiny internal slot, let's say, we'll contact you for possibilities on how the design must be changed, like adding a larger attached hole.

Upload your design for a carbon fiber part today.

This is part 2/2 in a series of guest posts from Jay Doscher.

In the previous article we worked on designing a part on the computer. We sketched out the part on graph paper, designed it in Visio, then printed it out to make sure it fit on our project chassis. It will take a couple weeks or so to get the parts in the mail, and we're going to pick up the project after getting the parts back. You can see the paper print out below where we printed it out and cut it out on paper from last time.

It's especially important to make sure all your holes are where they need to be- this can get tricky on complex shapes. As you can see here we have printed out several holes. We can use a hobby knife to cut those out or simply poke out the holes with a pencil in a pinch.

As you can see above, we've taped the part to the project frame. (3M painter's tape works great for this exercise.) Here's a picture of the whole project with several of the parts taped to the frame. It looks a little bit messy, but it shows us exactly how it will all line up.

When we get the parts in the mail, it's important to check the parts individually- in this case it's easy to stack them up and sure enough, they are all in good shape. You can see a photo of one of the finished parts below. One important thing we did for this project was leave the screw holes a little smaller than needed- this meant that when the parts arrived, we could start testing with smaller screws, then drill out the holes to the size we needed. Since there is a high amount of precision from the part design, we can use the existing holes as guides for the larger diameter screw holes. This means the location of the holes stays very accurate even though we are drilling them out by hand.

You'll notice that all the holes line up exactly where we want them, and that the part matches the paper design we did a couple weeks before. One important advantage to working with ABS plastic is that it's easy to work with if we need to change small things. As you can see in the picture below, the part on the right has a couple new additions- we have drilled holes to make spots for some stand off screws, making room for a Raspberry Pi B+.

You can also see how the parts sitting next together show that they can interlock together. This would be extremely difficult to do without prototyping them in paper first, and would likely require very expensive software. Instead, we can rest easy knowing our parts will fit on our frame, just as we expect.

Finally, you can see the finished parts installed on the frame. The parts fit great, and as you can see they fit on a variety of places on the frame thanks to the versatile design. It's important to note that this process works the same for most plastics and even some metals. We could easily place the same order but use aluminum instead. It's important to take into consideration the different materials' properties, since tolerances and other attributes change with different materials types.

We hope you have found this article helpful. You see the full project build gallery over on the Polyideas website here. There you can find other projects that use the same process for prototyping with paper, then using Big Blue Saw to make the ideas a reality.