General Updates

Save Monday, July 18 through Wednesday, July 20, 2016


From Monday, July 18 through Wednesday, July 20, Big Blue Saw is having a sale on custom parts made from YOUR designs. All parts waterjet cut from 1/4 inch thick aluminum 6061 and ordered online will automatically receive a quantity discount. If you've got designs you would like to turn into a real metal parts, now is the time.

Order Now

About Aluminum 6061

Aluminum 6061 is a strong, weldable, corrosion resistant alloy. It's commonly found in where high strength and light weight is needed, and was used to make the frame of the Space Shuttle  as well as the armor and frame of the BattleBot Bite Force, sponsored and waterjet cut by Big Blue Saw. For the technically minded, the aluminum used in the sale will be the typical T6 hardness, which provides a good strength without being too brittle.

Aluminum 6061-T6 and waterjet cutting go together well. The low temperatures used in waterjet cutting mean that the heat treatment of the metal will not be affected and it will maintain its strength even after it is cut.

How You Can Save

To take advantage of the sale, just place your order online July 18-20 through our online quoting system. Orders placed online will automatically receive the quantity discount.

Have a look at our butterfly example, for instance. Normally in quantity 1, this part will cost you $92.10. However, during the sale it will run you just $11.30 for quantity 1, a savings of 88%.

Or look at this multi-part keyboard case. Normally when cut from 1/4 inch thick aluminum 6061, we charge $103.40 per set. During the sale, it can be yours for just $56.20, a savings of $47.20.

This logo design normally runs $92.10 when made from 1/4 inch thick aluminum 6061.  During the sale, it's just $24.30, or 74% off!

Get started by uploading your design to our online quoting and ordering system now.

Summer has begun. It's warm out there. You reach for your favorite beverage of choice, but alas! it's in a bottle and you have no opener. At Big Blue Saw, we've got you covered. We recently tried out a few different bottle opener designs to see which worked best.

There are two main types of openers we've seen: through-hole and side mounted.

The through hole type should be made from mateiral 0.06 inches thickness or thinner. Some people will grind down the lower lip of the opener to make it thinner.

Side mounted can be of nearly any thickness. These are more common and are typically seen on waterjet cut multi tools. One customer of ours even incorporated an opener into a sports trophy.

We created a couple designs with different sizes to test which shape worked the best as an opener. Here's the outline of each test design.

Through hole bottle openers


Side mount bottle openers


We waterjet cut the side mount opener from 0.125 inch thick stainless steel 304. We needed a thinner material for the through-hole piece: 0.06 inches thick.

The Results

Most of these designs worked reasonably well as bottle openers. The key to getting a working bottle opener seems to be making sure that the prying end and pivot end are close enough together. Some of the tested openers were a little too large, like the biggest of the through hole openers.

I also noticed that the farther away the pry end was from the pivot end, the less the cap was bent before being removed. The smallest of the crescent shaped openers bent the bottle cap quite a bit before removing it. In contrast, the largest working through hole opener barely made any perceptible change to the cap.

Through Hole Openers

Of the through hole designs I tried, the middle two flattened circles and the trapezoidal design worked best. The largest shape fit completely over the top of the cap, giving no leverage. The smallest worked, but you needed to be a little more precise when aligning the pry end with the edge of the cap.

Side Mount Openers

I tried a bigger variety of side mount openers, so let's break them down by type.

The Big Opener

At the very end of the opener you can see the Big Opener. I thought that this would be too big, but the spacing between the pryer and the pivot was just right to remove the cap without too much bending.

The Crescent Openers

Next to the Big Opener are crescent shaped openers in 4 different sizes. These all worked well. The smallest of the crescent openers is the best choice for a compact remover, though it bends the cap significantly before removing it.

The Pointy Openers

Next to the crescent are the 4 pointy openers. All 4 worked reasonably well. I can't really recommend this shape, however, as the pivot end is quite sharp. You don't want this around to cut your fingers when reaching into your pocket or tool drawer.

The Rocker Openers

I thought that this shape had great potential, so I tried it in 3 different sizes. At first look, it seems similar to the Big Opener. But if you try to use it the same way, it won't work. This opener is meant to be used in the opposite direction. With the Big Opener, you start the tool in a horizontal position and the the pry end is located toward the inside of the tool. In contrast, with the rocker openers, the tool starts in a vertical position as you maneuver the sharp pry end under the cap, then rock against the rounded end.

I had high hopes for this opener, as it's included on the fishbone multitool. However, the pry end kept slipping loose from under the bottle cap. I can't recommend this design without some further refinement. The pry end needs a tooth to dig in the underside of the cap, or possibly a steeper rake angle to really create solid contact.

Take a look at this video showing some of the openers in action to get an idea of how well they work.


We mentioned multi-tools and trophies as having an opener feature. Buy why restrict yourself to these? You could add an opener shape to any of these:


Download the Through Hole Opener DXF File

Download the Side Mount Opener DXF File



A quick note: the next sale is coming up on Monday, July 18 and will run through Wednesday, July 20. The material: aluminum 6061 1/4" (0.25) thick. Orders placed online will automatically receive a quantity discount. Watch this space or our mailing list for more details. Get your designs ready by trying them with the online ordering and quoting system.

I'm  always on the lookout for new design techniques for use with waterjet cut parts, particularly ones that let us make parts that break out of the world of 90 degree angles and flat planes. The curvy assembly you see above was made using only waterjet cut aluminum parts and off the shelf hardware.

If you haven't read any of our other articles on how to design parts for waterjet cutting, now would be a good time to read that in order to understand the limitations of waterjet cutting and some ways these limitations can be overcome.

The assembly takes advantage of the fact that the curved top plate is made from flexible yet strong aluminum 5052 alloy in 0.025 inch (0.64 mm) thickness. Since it's slightly thinner than a credit card, the aluminum rectangle can be bent by hand.

The flowing lines of the curve were created in Inkscape, then imported into LibreCAD.



The spacing of the holes on the rectangular plate was determined by drawing a spline curve along the support plate outline between two t-nut slots, then using the "Total Length Of Selected Entities" menu option. The holes were then placed this distance apart on the rectantgular plate.


Below you can see the unassembled support plates and top plate. The support plates are made from thicker aluminum: 0.125 inch (3.18 mm) thick aluminum 6061.

When creating this type of assembly, I recommend installing all of the nuts first before attempting to attach the screws. You can use superglue to hold the nuts in place during assembly.

I assembled the pieces one support plate at a time, but I suspect it would be easier to alternate attaching the screws between the two suport plates. It would also help to have the support plates held apart at a fixed distance from each other, which I didn't do.

Here is a view from underneath the assembled pieces.

Finally, I will note that it did require a good amount of finger strength to push the plate into place before screwing it down. This was mostly a problem as the curve reversed its direction. I suspect that a curve that went all to the inside or all to the outside would be much easier to assemble.


Tito Ferradans loves photography and experimenting with lenses to get the best images possible. This led him to creating laser cut inserts for a Pentacon 29mm lens to produce a wide angle image with close focus. Read more about it on his blog, or watch the video below.