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 Post subject: Construction Methods
PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 3:10 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2002 9:36 am
Location: Washington D.C.
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.

Machining /assembly
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.

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 - Terrco This is FYI. Multiple cutters working at once 24 cutters !

Carving duplicator – Gemini. Look at the links to figurines and furniture.

Build your own carving duplicator from plans.

Wood turning duplicator

NC milling machine

Pantograph milling machine (Engraver)

Pantograph engraver. Looks to be two dimensional but small and solid construction.

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?


 Post subject: Re: Construction Methods
PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2003 10:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:19 pm
Location: Yaroslavl, Russia and Maryland, USA
I am not sure if wood carving duplicators can do the job. Milling machines should be able to do so. Especially, in this case, I think vertical milling machines. Beside microlux machines, one of the most popular and reputable brands is Sherline. Be warned, however, that the cost of 600-800 dollars is just the initial cost of the machine and the most necesary tools such as chucks, meters, etc. It gets addictive, and you will want to buy more and more tools. Good source for used, or even new machines is of course Ebay.

There are CNC attachments to Sherline, for yet another $$$$. With them you're able to program the bit movements, but that does not free you from bits changes, or setup changes that may happen quite often.

And yes, these lathes/milling machines are good for machining hard plastic.

Still, I think this method can only be good for making a prototype piece in exact fine detail. With that in mind, I think most us would not consider the investment into this machine and tools as being worth it. I believe it's easier, and quicker to make a prototype pieces using hand tools, and that gives you enough accuracy.

In the end, it comes down to casting anyway. :-)

Aside from this, I believe I'll be visiting the library display in Manassas tomorrow, with a friend of mine, also puzzle fun, but not a collector. I have a book "working with plastics" from Woodworking(?) series from Life publishing. I can bring it along, if we can have beer somewhere nearby :)

 Post subject: Re: Construction Methods
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2003 10:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 24, 1999 12:18 pm
Location: Palerang Shire, NSW, Australia
Yep, it does seem to come back to casting. Cheap, but slow. However, I am still exploring a way of creating cheap injection molding. I do believe it is achieveable.

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