Saturday, November 2, 2013

The $700 dollar bracket

As my love for my craft grows everyday, I ask myself whats the next level?

With my love for welding being my passion and having really locked it down and all its processes I start to look for new doors that haven't been opened in the metal fabrication world.

Machining is one of my newest sparked passions but one of the things I have been doing the longest, the quest to be one of the best all around prototypers pushes me to know how to be faster and more accurate then the average joe machinist/fabricator.

Thats what sets me apart from them, my speed, quick thinking, design and precision - all of these come with a lot of training and studying.

I watch Gabe work in the shop and it really shows me what I have learned the last 10 years of being a fabricator/machinist, when I turned 16 I got my first job running New Britain Screw Machines and CNCs at Mico in Mankato, MN.

These machines really paved the way and Gene and Matt in the Mico shop really were the dudes that seen a dorky kid with big black framed glasses begging to get on those machines. At age 17 I had already scored one of the dream job for most of the shop crew by being able to float from dept. to dept. running everything from parts for UPS trucks to John Deer tractor brake parts to brake calipers for Caterpillar's largest mining rigs.

The trust these dudes put in me and the machines they let me run now blows my mind, I sure as hell would have been nervous about letting a kid run every machine in that shop, I was practically hated by about 50% of the shop because of my love for making stuff on the machines.

Anyone that has worked at Mico knows the worst jobs are Pins, every foot pedal on every tractor, bulldozer,mining dump truck, and so on has them. Its Mico's baby they love to make, the pedals are Cast and there is a stainless pin that goes thur them.

 Somehow my love for being in the shop and running stuff always led me to making pins ( think it was because they wanted to see if I would quit).... Well the average was about 300 pins a day and that was pushing it for most of the crew, well I loved running these machines and some how I ran around 550 pins in a day making everyone look bad that was in the system for running pins. My hatred of employees grew to well over 75%, I can't say 100% because management had NO problem with me making an extra 250 pins in a day...

Either way, I have been dragging these Mico pedals around for 10 years now to remember what made me who I am and my love for just making stuff.
Plus the parts I made at Mico are used on the most badass things in the world, hell yeah I want to brag about that... I was 16 and having fun...

Somedays I find myself back in that mindset while making repetitive parts and I think " the best chefs in the world wash dishes, its a humbling experience and brings you back to square one, no one is too good to not have to do it"

Now when I look at what I am doing and where my brain is at I see myself moving so fast sometimes I can't keep up with my brain. I love it, but when I get that little bit of down time when you would expect to relax and sit around and watch tv, I find myself reading and practicing my skill. Who knows why, but it feels right.

My espresso machine has become one of those tests of my skills and there is a hidden reason I am building it not money related, mostly a test to myself and to others that have been watching me with doubt about my skills. Its a test to see how far I can push my design, fabrication and just skills to build something like this.

Its kind of like writing an essay about what you love to do.

 There is other people out there that really push for me to finish it and see its true value in what I am learning on it, people like Tom of Ox Tools Blog who has pushed for me to keep learning and progressing as an all around metal crafter. The crew at Autodesk like CEO Carl, Anthony and Al of HSMwork/Autodesk who provided me with the software to be at that next level of prototyping, design and fabrication.

These people will be the first people to get a cup of coffee from the machine ( I didn't say good coffee, who knows what it will taste like)

Heres a test of my skills to see what I can kick out, lets call it a quiz.

Mission - Build a cool bracket to copper weld to the side of the espresso machine

A big block of 110 copper
12" x 6" x .5 thick = $140 = not eating for a week

I started my tool paths with the pockets and the working around the outside.
Maybe not the quickest but I was worried about gumming up the cutter so I took small bites

My buddy Rodney at Roland Sands Design made me this MLS badge
I have wanted to use it for something... This is perfect

What happened here is I forgot to put the radius in the copper so the badge could sit in the pocket.

Using the handy Starrett radius gauges I was able to find it was a 7/32 (.220 roughly because of the casting) These little radius gauges are cheap and a really saver sometimes when your reverse engineering a project on the fly and need a perfect match up.

Without moving the part I adjusted the model for the radius and then did a new tool path on HSMworks 
Took me under 5 minutes to adjust it, repost the G code and load it on the machine.
Talk about fast, thats why HSMworks is perfect for prototyping stuff.

It didn't cut anything but the radius in the corners that I adjusted.


Next was the flip over to side two and doing all the windows and match up.
If you look you will see a 1/4 hole in the middle of the plate, that was my Zero Zero Origin point.
That way when I flipped it all I had to do was put a 1/4 pin in the drill chuck and zero it off that point. Not the ideal way to do a high precision part but for what I am doing its totally OK, I know that there will be a need for clean up on the belt sander. 

So one of the great parts of having a CNC Knee mill and doing parts like this is I can slowly walk it around the part and raise and lower the knee leaving little web connections so the part doesn't just drop out, as you can see I left like 5 connections on the part, those I would just band saw out and drop the part from the copper plate. With the price of copper so high, I try to not waste any chunks of this 140 dollar piece of copper. 

I trimmed it out on the band saw and had to get a picture!
Over all it took me about 4 hours from design to finished cut out part, not bad.
Rodneys little badge looks great on there. 

Had to do a quick hold up on the boiler to see the fit up.
Should be fun to weld on this week!

I have way more plans for this bracket then just looking cool but right now I can't explain because I have to run out front of my shop and cheer on someone in a high speed car chase as they rip by my shop in Oakland ! 

I love Oakland !