Big  Blue Saw


General Updates

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.

Ian Ward wrote in recently to show us the wine cork trivet he made with custom parts from Big Blue Saw plus off the shelf hardware.

The metal links were waterjet cut by Big Blue Saw from 1/8 inch thick stainless steel 304 from Ian's design.

Ian says "The water jet cut parts saved me a lot of cutting, drilling and grinding, thanks."


Got a design or idea you would like to turn into real stainless steel parts? Read more about how Big Blue Saw works.

Rick Johnston was working on his  Factory Five Racing MK4 AC Cobra replica (shown above) and wanted an upgraded braking package. His solution: custom brackets waterjet cut from stainless steel by Big Blue Saw.

Once he's tested out the parts and worked through any bugs, Rick plans to make the designs public. For now, here's a sneak peek at the custom braking package partially assembled.



Rick gave us some technical details on the how and why of his design.

The design is modular and covers both the front and rear brakes. The outer bracket you see on the rear brakes is also used in the front. This is why there are 2 additional “outer brackets” (“L” shaped) in the part outlines [shown above].



This allows the mounting of front brake packages to the rear. Cobras are different than most production cars that the kit industry borrows parts from. Cobras have a typical front to rear weight balance of 55% - 45%. Additionally the center of gravity height is MUCH lower than a typical production car measuring approximately 15” in height. Also the tire Diameters remain quite large for such a low CG height. This means that this kit needs a lot more rear brake than the standard parts provide. My equations (not proven yet) should reduce the pedal force needed from around 150 lbs to about 40 lbs to lock all 4 wheels in a balanced manner (fronts locking slightly before the rears). I am working on another design very similar to this one, that would allow standard production 13” Mustang Cobra brake components to be used that would further reduce cost to builders.


And one more look at Rick's ride.



Note that when Rick ordered, he took advantage of our best tip for saving money on waterjet cutting: putting several designs into the same file. If you've got many parts all made from the same material and thickness, it's most cost effective to put them all into the same file before uploading them to the online quoting system.

Unlike acrylic plastic, which is available in dozens of colors and styles, it's difficult to color match polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate sheet is generally available in small quantities in one of only a few colors: clear, gray, bronze, white, and black.

Above is a photo of my robot "Big Blue Saw Presents Flipper 720". You may notice that the top is a lovely semi-transparent blue. It's waterjet cut from polycarbonate for extra toughness. How did I create the top without buying an entire truckload of blue-tinted polycarbonate? Read on.


We are experts in laser cutting and waterjet cutting services with the capability to cut intricate parts from many different types of materials including metal, aluminum, steel, plastic, acrylic and wood.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a great new idea that requires mass production or a manufacturer who needs a single prototype part, our machining specialists will convert your concept into real usable parts and products.

Our laser cutting and waterjet cutting services are streamlined and customized for you, whether you need one simple part or a thousand complex parts.  We serve individuals and all industries, from robotics and electronics to education and R&D. We are committed to providing each customer, regardless of size, with outstanding service and fast turnaround times. Our ordering process is simple and user-friendly. To get started, create your design using the Big Blue Saw Designer, your favorite software, or other free CAD software. Then, upload your design to get an instant quote.

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I wanted a robot that would stand out from the typical metal and plastic creations of Robot Battles. A blue top would help with that. After some research, I learned about several common techniques for coloring clear plastic:

  • Coloring with a permanent marker
  • Applying window tinting film
  • Dying with clothing dye
  • Spray painting

Spray paint seemed like the least fuss way to go. It turns out that Tamiya, the plastic model kit and RC company, makes spray paints specifically for polycarbonate. They typically sell to hobbyists painting polycarbonate shells for RC cars. It's available in a large variety of colors and styles, including metallic, transparent, and irridescent hues.

I ordered a can off of Amazon in an appropriate color, "Translucent Light Blue", part number PS-39.

Here's a closer look at one of the smaller pieces after painting.

I'm quite pleased with the finished product. It leaves the inside of the robot visible while adding the flair of a bright color.

My tips for using spray paint:

  • Make sure the surface to be painted is clean.
  • Paint in a well ventillated area away from dust or wind.
  • Begin spraying next to the piece to be painted. Starting the spray with the can pointed right at the workpiece can lead to clumpy or uneven paint.
  • Move in a steady, even motion across the workpiece. Follow through and stop the spray only after the end of the stream is off of the part.
  • Apply in layers and use less paint than you think you need on each layer.

We often see parts come out slightly smaller than the designer expected when they're designed in a vector based drawing tool like Inkscape, Illustrator or Corel Draw. These parts show up smaller in the online quoting tool than they do in the drawing software. This is due to the stroke width of the part. Let's take a look at how this can happen.

In Inkscape, we'll resize a square with rounded corners to be 5 inches by 5 inches and export the design to a DXF format file.

When uploaded to our online quoting system, the size is only 4.902 x 4.902 inches!

What's going on here?

The secret is that Inkscape counts the stroke width as part of the object's size. So if your line is 0.098 inches wide, this increases the overall width and height of the part beyond the center of the line by 0.098 inches (0.049 inches on each side). Our online quoting tool (and most CAD programs) measure from the center of the line, rather than the edge of the stroke.

The solution is to set a very small or 0 line width before resizing. Let's set the line width to be 0, then resize to 5 x 5 inches, and export again.

Now when the part is uploaded, the dimensions are correct.