I have made only two simple custom puzzles from wood. I think many of us dream about making puzzles but the construction methods aren’t all that appealing. I am not an expert in this area so don’t take me to seriously but it seems to me we need some new construction techniques suitable to making a puzzle with many pieces and/or making puzzles in medium quantities.
There are several ways to make puzzles. A big factor in deciding which to use is the quantity to be produced. We frequently talk about machining/assembly, casting and injection molding.
Use hand tools and power tools to make a part. Consists of filing, drilling, routing, cutting, milling, and assembly from sub-parts.
BTY here is the smallest and cheapest milling machine I have seen. It might work well with plastic. They also sell small lathes.Micro-Mark
A mold hopefully holds up long enough to make all the pieces of a puzzle. Reusing the same mold for all the pieces of a puzzle results in slow production.
A pantograph milling machine or computer controlled milling machine cuts a mold into aluminum or steel. Suitable for large volume only.
I have been looking for method suitable for quantities in-between the few of molding and tens of thousands of injection molding. Reproducing a model piece by machining instead of molding might be the answer.
Carving duplicator - Terrcohttp://www.terrco.com/ter_5.htm http://www.terrco.com/ter_61.htm
This is FYI. Multiple cutters working at oncehttp://www.terrco.com/ter_master.html
24 cutters !
Carving duplicator – Gemini. Look at the links to figurines and furniture.http://www.wood-carver.com/
Build your own carving duplicator from plans.http://www.copycarver.com/
Wood turning duplicatorhttp://www.toolpeddler.com/46-408.htm
NC milling machinehttp://iesu5.ieem.ust.hk/dfaculty/ajay/courses/ieem215/lecs/CNC.html http://www.maneklalexports.com/English/Jewelry/Pantograph.htm
Pantograph milling machine (Engraver)http://www.zhongyang-engrg.com/catalog/mz0789-2.htm
Pantograph engraver. Looks to be two dimensional but small and solid construction.http://www.gravers.com/iedpanto.html
The carving duplicators might be able to reproduce a model made of several pieces so several could be cut at once. It might be necessary to leave them attached to a base from which they are cut with a saw.
The wood turning duplicator would require a model consisting of several pieces placed end to end. They would be cut apart later. I could see this being used for Rubik’s cube edge pieces. The corner pieces would be more difficult. Flexing of the work piece might be a problem if several pieces with thin parts are connected head to toe.
Does anyone have any experience machining plastic?
Has anyone ever done anything like this?