Saturday, 30 July 2016

My escapades into 3D printing and Laser Cutting!

With Digital Manufacturing becoming more and more popular in the prop making world (and many other disciplines) I feel that educating myself in the magical ways of this ever expanding field is essential (I would most certainly be doing myself a great disservice if I didn't). The maker movement is also growing exponentially and maker spaces are popping up all over the place. The MakLab in Glasgow is where my adventures began. The first class I took was in 3D printing, they have many different printers ranging from Ultimakers to a HP Designjet Color 3D Printer! I was struck by the simplicity of the process, of course you have to learn how to model in a certain way in order to produce a perfect print.  However the fact that something which only exited inside a computer can become an physical object you can touch and feel in a matter of hours is something I find truly incredible (and probably will do for a long time).  I already have some knowledge of 3Ds Max which made the modelling process easier for me. We used Fusion 360 in the class which I found to be incredibly user-friendly. I plan to start learning how to use this software as it has some incredible features including a large community of users, an active forum, huge Autodesk tutorial library, free-form modeling tools and it's also a cloud-based platform.

 I have a commission coming up shortly which will have some 3D printed elements. I decided I would practice modeling the item for the commission in the class. The item was going to be printed on an Ultimaker 2, once I'd finished modeling we took the file over to Cura (Software which prepares your 3D model for printing). After the model was deemed ready to print, the file was put on an SD card, inserted into the 3D printer and.... Off it went! Watching that thing go is completely entrancing (half attributed possibly to the lovely fumes of melting plastic).

Here is a video of the printer doing it's thang:

And here is the result: (Not the most splendid example of the capabilities that 3D printing has to offer, but I had fun and learnt a tonne, so that's all that matters ;)

The next class I took was an introduction into laser cutting. The task was to create a laser cut lamp shade from cardboard, this was a perfect project to start on, it was fairly simple, but armed me with the necessary knowledge to allow me to start on my own laser cutting projects. Again, I used fusion 360 to create the model, then transferred these designs to 123D Make which converts the 3D files into a sliced model ready for laser cutting. Again the simplicity of the process was completely incredible and the results are equally amazing- the laser cutter can cut with a precision and speed that I could never, ever achieve with mechanical/hand tools. Once all the pieces had been cut, it was just a matter of matching up all the numbers and gluing the pieces together.

Here is the laser cutting making some lovely smelling burnt cardboard fumes!

And some progress pics:

Here is the lampshade in action! (Sprayed with fire retardant of course ;))

If anyone is looking to get started in the world of digital manufacturing I would thoroughly recommend finding your nearest maker space and taking some classes! Getting started is always the hardest part, but it's worth it - trust me. I will certainly be taking the knowledge I've learnt further and expect to see many 3D printed and laser cut elements in my future projects!


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Dr. Strangelove Survival Kit Camera Case

So I recently watched Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and boy did it live up to my expectations! The Major Kong Survival Kit scene particularly stuck in my mind - especially the survival kit prop! I usually like my props to have some functionality (not just a display piece) so I decided to make a survival kit camera case! Check out the scene here:

I had put the camera on a bookshelf to take this last photo with a 10 second timer. This was a terrible idea and it nearly crashed to the floor! This is me rushing to catch it before it fell to it's doom. Fortunately both the camera and my heart made it though.

Onto the build process!

I started out by using my camera/batteries/charger to gauge how big I needed to make the case. Once I had the length/width/depth figured out I used my jigsaw to cut out all the pieces. I used some 4mm hardboard which I had salvaged from an old picture frame for most of the pieces.

Here are all the pieces laid out. The brown stuff is the hardboard then the white stuff is some thicker hardboard I had laying around.

I knew I would be covering all the pieces in fabric and I didn't want the sharp edges cutting into it so I just rounded them all off with sandpaper.

I cut some holes using a drill and my jigsaw for the webbing straps to go though later on.

I wanted the whole case (Not just the inside) to be really spongy so I sandwiched the hardboard inbetween some 5mm upholstery foam. I made the bottom piece of foam larger than the hardboard and also bevel cut all the edges. This will allow me to bend the foam over the edges of the hardboard. The beveled cut will help to blend the seam between the two pieces. 

Here all all the pieces covered in foam. I used some webbing to temporarily hold all the pieces together so I could make sure they all fit.  

Here are the side pieces and bottom piece covered in fabric and ready to be sewed.

I started with the bottom piece. I needed the seams to be on the outside as I'll be using them to attach the bottom piece to the side panels. I also need the seam to be at the bottom (rather than at the middle which is where it would naturally fall) otherwise the side panels would attach to the middle of the bottom piece rather than at the bottom of the bottom piece (Is this making any sense!?)

I had to use a combination of hand sewing and machine sewing to get the results I needed. Hopefully you can see what I was trying to explain. The corners were sewn together and then the excess fabric was cut off. The seam will also be trimmed down to the size I need. 
Getting the piece inside the fabric was quite tricky as the foam doesn't slide along the fabric very well (at all). To remedy this I cut open a plastic zip lock bag so that it was just one strip of plastic. I wrapped the piece inside this strip and then inserted the piece into the fabric. Once the piece was inside the fabric I pulled out the plastic strip.

For the side panel fabric I also needed the seam line to be on the outside. I used my sewing machine to sew a channel for the panel pieces to slide thorough (making sure that the fabric would be tight across the panels). I used the same method for getting all the side panels inside the fabric as above

Sewing up the opening..

 Joining the panels together to create a box..

Trimming the seams down and folding them over..

Sewing the bottom piece and side panels together.

For the lid of the case I machine sewed three sides of the fabric, inserted the panel then hand sewed the open end shut. I also needed the seams on the lid to be on the outside as I would use them to sew in the zip.

Here I am sewing the zip to the seam of the lid. The zip was also sewed in to the top seam of the side panels

Remember that hole I made for the straps to go though at the beginning? I cut through the fabric to expose the holes then folded and glued the fabric over to stop it fraying. I then added two pieces of fabric underneath to make the hole look much nicer. 

I threaded the webbing though ( making sure to assemble the adjustable buckle mechanism on the webbing before threading it through) I covered the last 5cm of webbing with copydex then rolled it up to stop it pulling back though the holes. 

I also melted and merged the nylon together to make sure it would't come undone. 

Stencil Time! I Created the text in Photoshop then printed it  out to the correct size. I then spent a good couple of hours cutting out all the letters. Podcasts are your best friends in this situation. I'd recommend: Making It - a podcast by Youtubers Jimmy Diresta, Bob Clagett and David Picciuto. They talk about how they go about making things, how it affects their lives and almost everything in between!

Here is the stenciled lettering painted onto the lid! I used acrylic mixed with latex - this will make the paint more flexible and prevent it from cracking off. 

Thank you very much for reading! :)

The Prop Solve: Free Commisons

My name is Evie Bee and I run The Props Solve!

I can make anything from robots to creature suits to detailed scale models! Please take a look at my portfolio here:

I am currently taking a gap year before I go on to study a BA in Model Design and effects and during this time I want to make as many props as possible! I am now offering free commissions to anyone and everyone, if you have a prop or costume that you so desperately want, I am here to make it for you! I will charge no fee for my time, all I ask is that you pay for the cost of materials. I will provide full working drawings, a build plan and a comprehensive list of all the materials I’ll use to make your item and their cost before you commit to anything.
If you have an idea/prop/costume/model that you would like to discuss with me then please get in touch!


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