The missing blog post: hackaday comes for a visit

This Blog post should have occurred May 30, 2012 or shortly thereafter. I’m just now doubling back to catch up. On Memorial day, I was at the 7hills Makerspace. A knock came at the door. It was Caleb Kraft from Hackaday. He asked for a quick tour. You can see it in the Hackaday blog (link below).


Adventures in Vacuum Forming

I’ve been wanting to create some project enclosures that are not black boxes from Radio Shack (not that there’s anything wrong with Radio Shack), so I built a vacuum forming rig following an instructable:,-cheap,-upgradeable-sheet-plastic-vacu/

Here it is setup in the kitchen of 7hills Makerspace:


I found some channeled flashing at the hardware store that I made into the frame. I use 2×4 cutoffs to elevate the plastic in the oven, so it had a little more room to sag. A little over a minute at 400 degrees did the trick. Press the frame against the weather stripping, flip the switch, one giant sucking sound later you have a part:

I started out making a simple part. The mold was sawn, sanded, turned on the lathe, and then sanded some more. I was surprised to see the wood’s grain still showing through. I cut off the excess and added some self-adhesive vinyl. Here’s how it turned out:

It’s not perfect, but it was a pleasing first attempt. I’m planning to make a bottom enclosure from bent acrylic. That’s one more thing I’m learning about as I go.

The next thing I wanted to try during my inaugural molding session was an experiment to see if you can create molds on the makerbot. Would the two plastics stick to each other making mold release difficult? The answer is … no. The makerbot-made molds did not stick to the sheet plastic. However, the surface imperfections typical with makerbots was visible through the sheet plastic. The results show that with numerous small parts, I should have paid more attention to airflow and bridging/webbing.


So there you have it. I felt pretty successful for a first try, but I have lots more to learn about vacuum forming.

Phone Engraving

One of the first things I thought when I saw the laser cutter was “I wonder if I can etch my phone with it?” Naturally, I placed my phone in it without a second thought, found a picture, and tried to engrave it. The only problem is that the pictures DPI (Dots per inch)was too low and it looked like a giant blob, so my dream was delayed. I eventually got some lessons on how to use it from various members (thank you, by the way) and with a little practice, I cut out my name on some scrap acrylic. I made that light up and change colors, and with that success I threw my phone in there and had some great results, so good in fact I did it to another phone. Both were such a success, I engraved a phone case, and the front glass on the second phone. Soon I am going to engrave an Ipad case and maybe other phones too! Hopefully I am going to upload a video of the ipad case getting engraved soon and some more pics.

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