The Hell Ya Beller Fun with hot, pointy, sharp, and caustic stuff.


First steps toward simulation in Path

User Shaise has been doing some very cool stuff simulating Path operations. Check out the video to see an example


A little bit about Path Start Points.

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Adding support for Arch Panels in FreeCAD Path.

A lot of projects include multiple parts made from a single sheet of uniform material - like a sheet of plywood. This causes some trouble in a CAD/CAM application

  • You want to keep your overall model/assembly intact, but the build assembly isn't the same as the cutting layout.
  • You need to translate and rotate parts to maximize material usage
  • You want to group operations to minimize tool changes on the machine.

For a while, I've been promising that we would include a solution to this in FreeCAD Path and now we're finally getting to it thanks to facilities in the Arch workbench - Panels!

Arch Panels are designed for exactly this purpose - designing parts from uniform sheet stock. In Arch, you can define a panel object and then create a 'Panel Cut' to represent the 2D cut pattern for that part. These 2D cuts can then be aggregated into a 'Panel Sheet' for cutting.

Is that confusing? Then just watch the video. It'll make sense, trust me. And for good measure, we now have a post-processor for smoothieboard, an exporter for linuxcnc tooltables, and improved tool handling. So there ya go.

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Introduction to Creating FreeCAD Paths with Python

This is a multi-part series that demonstrates how custom paths can be created using a python macro in FreeCAD

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

final macro:

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Introduction to the DogBone Dressup

Dogbone dressup modifies inside-corner cuts to remove material missed by a cylindrical cutter.


Introduction to Path Mill-Face Operation

Mill Facing adds additional functionality to the FreeCAD Path Workbench.


Introduction to Path Contour Operation

For users of Path Workbench in FreeCAD, here's an introduction to the Contour Operation

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Old School Maker Cool…Part Two.

I posted this week about getting my great-uncle's wagon as a gift.   I also mentioned going to his wake and seeing many others like it in his workshop.  My dad read that post and amazingly dug up some pictures that were taken that very day of that shop.  I've never seen these pictures until now and looking at them is strange.  My memories are both confirmed and enhanced.  Details I'd forgotten suddenly rush back.



In the interest of full disclosure, there was another picture taken that day and this one is nothing like I remember at all.  Seriously, I remember being the absolute height of fashion and damn handsome man.

Welcome to Throwback Thursday... Let's never speak of this again.








Old School Maker Cool

I recently endured celebrated my fiftieth birthday.  As a gift, my father gave me this wagon that he's had for many years.  It was originally made by Dad's uncle, Art Nelson near Brainerd, Minnesota, sometime in the 60's.  I used to look at it when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite things.

img_20161003_093101 img_20161003_093113 img_20161003_093151 img_20161003_093250 img_20161003_093301 img_20161003_093346 img_20161003_093355

Art was a carpenter and making these was his hobby.  When he passed away I was about 14.  I remember going to the wake and the guys all gathered in Art's workshop.  It was tidy and warm and there were dozens of wagons like this on shelves - all different.   I have no idea what happened to them all.


From Maker to Market.

The Maker movement seems to be all about weekend DIY projects, in the garage, with wires hanging out, and an Arduino stuck in for blog cred.  Maybe it shouldn't always stop there.

Purple Squirrel Games is making a very simple product but doing it in an exceptional way.

Their first product is a mancala game board.  Mancala has been around for at least 1200 years so one wouldn't think that it's an area ripe for innovation but Purple Squirrel doesn't agree.  And their innovation process isn't focused only on the product.  In fact, it seems to have the following characteristics:

Innovation in design and build quality.

The board is solid walnut and the seeds are real river stones.  The pits and stores are CNC carved in a way to make picking up the seeds easy, avoid manufacturing 'dwell marks' and create a lovely appearance.  The board was play-tested to make sure the pit size is just large enough to hold the stones but not too large to waste material.  Everything from the raw materials to the packaging has been considered and improvements made wherever possible. The final product is beautiful to look at and feels like a solid piece of craftsmanship.

Innovation in the process.

Purple Squirrel used Maker Redux to build a virtual team around the project and control the manufacturing process. Like all Maker Redux projects the details are there for you to learn from.  (full disclosure:  I'm involved with Maker Redux and one of the associated companies)

Innovation around the edges.

Purple Squirrel isn't done.  They're also innovating around the marketing and distribution. I'll post again about them soon.

So what are the results?

They sold two boards the first day it was listed on Amazon and sold out in a week.  Not bad for a product with over 500 competitors.


Here's some of the lessons learned during this "simple" project.

  • A simple wooden gameboard isn't simple...or just a game board.  This one is; board, finish oil, stones, bag for stones, instruction sheet, feet, box, and shrink wrap.
  • The stuff you can't touch includes a UPC license, product liability insurance, and a sales-tax license for the distributors to see.
  • Fullfillment by Amazon fulfillment has different pricing for different size boxes.  Had the board been an inch larger, it would have cost $4.00 more to store in Amazon fulfillment.
  • Wood finishing is complicated.
  • River stones can scratch finished walnut if not polished enough.
  • CNC tools can create 'dwell marks' in the wood which must be sanded out.  This can significantly increase the manufacturing cost and time and require human involvement.
  • Sourcing things like the velveteen bag from China seems easy and cheap...unless it's Chinese New year.
  • Chinese New Year lasts a month.
  • Nothing gets shipped during Chinese New Year.
  • Cardboard shipping boxes are a significant per-unit cost.  Don't neglect them.
  • Cardboard shipping boxes might be opened by Amazon fulfillment by accident.  They should be shrink-wrapped to avoid this.
  • Shrink-wrapping adds cost.
  • Even a 1200 year old wooden game board needs product liability insurance.
  • Product liability insurance adds cost.
  • Glass beads are sold for filling vases.
  • Small polished stones are sold for aquariums.
  • There's huge variability in the size of polished stones and glass beads.  6mm isn't always 6mm.
  • Getting samples of stones adds cost
  • If you want a product to sell well, it needs good photography.
  • Good photography adds cost.
  • A game board without feet will slide around on the table.  This is annoying and can scratch the table.
  • People get annoyed about a scratched table.
  • Instruction sheets printed on your inkjet printer look like crap.
  • Professional printing adds cost.
  • No matter how many times you have an instruction sheet proof-read, there will be one typo found after it's printed.
  • Product design is hard.
  • Good products sell.
  • You still have to market good products.


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