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Thread: How do inventors build their prototypes

  1. #1
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    Default How do inventors build their prototypes

    So this might not specifically be a laser question but it applies to lasers as well and any invention really. It has been weighting on me quite a bit.

    For instance look at the original gatlin gun, how they heck did he build those barrels, all the mechanisms, etc in the late 1800's. I am struggling to scrape together materials to build things and yet here these inventors are in the 1800's building rifled barrels and complex mechanisms. I have not been able to find one person in my state who can make custom barrels because the rifling is complex process.

    This is just a for instance, look at the motor for the wright flyer, the car had barely been invented.

  2. #2
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    ... serach for an investor to get enough money, then search a company with "serious" lathe and milling capabilities ... or start as DYI and invest some ten years tooling

    Viktor
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  3. #3
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    Older inventors relied quite heavily on drawings or even hand-sketches of their creations. Once they secured financing they could begin construction. Since many early inventors were already engineers and/or craftsmen (ex: Edison, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Robert Fulton), they already had most of the skills needed to build the parts for their new product.

    Those who were not craftsmen, like Gatling, needed to hire the work out to others. And admittedly even Edison hired plenty of craftsmen in his later years, preferring to focus more on ideas and experiments while letting his workers build things.

    These days rapid-prototyping is often used to test parts before they are machined. Various powdered-metal 3D printers (with their post-print sintering processes) allow strong metal parts to be made quickly. True, you can't 3D-print a gun barrel (at least not yet!), but you can print all the other parts that would make up a gatling gun, for example, and they would be strong enough to allow the resulting weapon to be test-fired. (I should point out that this is a hypothetical case, since these days you need special licensing from the ATF before you can legally build a gun regardless of the construction method.)

    And yeah, there's always the old "fire up the mill in your garage and build it yourself" method, assuming that you have the time and skills to do so.

    Adam

  4. #4
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    Start with a 7x10 mini-lathe and brass, plus the US Army Field Machining Handbooks. Skip the mini-mill, I own one, but rapidly upgraded to a full size Bridgeport Clone. DRO options are worth their weight in Gold on Mills and Lathes. However I do most of my measuring with a Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Caliper.

    View the Mini-Lathe as a kit of parts, they take some hand fitting to get to a .0005" precision over 6" of cut. That took me 48 hours of hand scraping the lathe ways. Do NOT go CNC on your first lathe, you will be endlessly frustrated if you do. Anyone who tells you to begin with CNC while learning the fundamentals of machine tools is doing you a disservice. Little Machine Shop is my preferred vendor for these. You'll need considerable tooling, a rule of thumb is that the tooling/spares/etc. for a machine tool will be at least the same as the cost of the tool when purchased used.

    Considering where you live, McMaster Carr corporation is your newest friend.... www.mcmaster.com

    Find: US Army, Fundamentals of Machine tools, too big to upload to PL.
    US Navy: Machinery Repairman Handbook
    US Navy NEETs (electronics self help)
    Book: The Art of Electronics, Horrowitz and Hill, Second Edition, NOT the Third.
    MIT Machine Shop Videos
    Book: Building Scientific Apparatus by Moore and Davis.
    Dan Gelbart's videos building prototypes in the shop on Youtube
    MrPete222 / Tubal Cain's machining videos on Youtube.
    Frank Hoose's mini-lathe.com (<<<<< THIS!)


    I can do more quick invention work on the lathe then I do on a Mill daily at the University. The Mill is far more important in the shop, but a beginner can get really, really, creative with a lathe with less chance of ruining the machine and far less expense. Learn on a "disposable" 7x10 or 7x12 with readily replacable parts. Yes, they are junk compared to Bridgeport or Clausing or old South Bend, but a well tuned 7x10 is an utterly amazing piece of junk when working with soft metals such as Aluminum or Brass.

    One of the niceties of machine shop tools is you can rapidly destroy your own machine until you learn where to place the cutting head before powering up. Hence my suggestion for a 7x10, replacement parts are cheap.

    Avoid Sherline, Taig, Prazi. and lathe/mill combo tools.. Sherline is a good starter for aluminum work, but you will rapidly replace it with a 7x10.

    I should warn you, establishing a shop is extremely expensive, and if your proficient with it, well, getting addicted to drugs is probably cheaper.. Makes Aviation with a light sport license look affordable if your not careful. (Not that I would endorse Drugs in any way)

    In the lower 48, a good used mill starts at 2,000$ plus another 1000$ in shipping and handling. Not to mention the need for a massive , very dry building, a really solid and level floor, and often three phase power or the need for a 3-7 HP phase converter. Cheap tabletop mills often suffer from deflection issues, even though they look strong, obtaining good results requires massive steel castings in most cases. Hence the full size mill if needed.

    In your case it may be easier to send milling out. Used Mills are tricky to buy, and the bugs/wear/old age issues do not show up until you use the machine for a while. I'm not sure I'd ever buy a used one again, but I sure as hell can not afford a new one. :-)

    Machine tools are made of a tough steel that rusts nearly instantly if not kept oiled. You can easily ruin your tools by neglecting them.

    Evaluate if you have the needed 3D thinking skills on a lathe, you'll know if you have the knack or not really quickly.
    abebooks.com is your friend.

    You can do some wicked stuff with just a Dremel tool, but that requires thinking and good hand/eye skills.

    Please see attached...

    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 01-09-2019 at 08:58.
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    When I still could have...

  5. #5
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    ...............
    Last edited by kecked; 02-03-2019 at 07:53.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    Start with a 7x10 mini-lathe and brass, plus the US Army Field Machining Handbooks. Skip the mini-mill, I own one, but rapidly upgraded to a full size Bridgeport Clone. DRO options are worth their weight in Gold on Mills and Lathes. However I do most of my measuring with a Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Caliper.

    View the Mini-Lathe as a kit of parts, they take some hand fitting to get to a .0005" precision over 6" of cut. That took me 48 hours of hand scraping the lathe ways. Do NOT go CNC on your first lathe, you will be endlessly frustrated if you do. Anyone who tells you to begin with CNC while learning the fundamentals of machine tools is doing you a disservice. Little Machine Shop is my preferred vendor for these. You'll need considerable tooling, a rule of thumb is that the tooling/spares/etc. for a machine tool will be at least the same as the cost of the tool when purchased used.

    Considering where you live, McMaster Carr corporation is your newest friend.... www.mcmaster.com

    Find: US Army, Fundamentals of Machine tools, too big to upload to PL.
    US Navy: Machinery Repairman Handbook
    US Navy NEETs (electronics self help)
    Book: The Art of Electronics, Horrowitz and Hill, Second Edition, NOT the Third.
    MIT Machine Shop Videos
    Book: Building Scientific Apparatus by Moore and Davis.
    Dan Gelbart's videos building prototypes in the shop on Youtube
    MrPete222 / Tubal Cain's machining videos on Youtube.
    Frank Hoose's mini-lathe.com (<<<<< THIS!)


    I can do more quick invention work on the lathe then I do on a Mill daily at the University. The Mill is far more important in the shop, but a beginner can get really, really, creative with a lathe with less chance of ruining the machine and far less expense. Learn on a "disposable" 7x10 or 7x12 with readily replacable parts. Yes, they are junk compared to Bridgeport or Clausing or old South Bend, but a well tuned 7x10 is an utterly amazing piece of junk when working with soft metals such as Aluminum or Brass.

    One of the niceties of machine shop tools is you can rapidly destroy your own machine until you learn where to place the cutting head before powering up. Hence my suggestion for a 7x10, replacement parts are cheap.

    Avoid Sherline, Taig, Prazi. and lathe/mill combo tools.. Sherline is a good starter for aluminum work, but you will rapidly replace it with a 7x10.

    I should warn you, establishing a shop is extremely expensive, and if your proficient with it, well, getting addicted to drugs is probably cheaper.. Makes Aviation with a light sport license look affordable if your not careful. (Not that I would endorse Drugs in any way)

    In the lower 48, a good used mill starts at 2,000$ plus another 1000$ in shipping and handling. Not to mention the need for a massive , very dry building, a really solid and level floor, and often three phase power or the need for a 3-7 HP phase converter. Cheap tabletop mills often suffer from deflection issues, even though they look strong, obtaining good results requires massive steel castings in most cases. Hence the full size mill if needed.

    In your case it may be easier to send milling out. Used Mills are tricky to buy, and the bugs/wear/old age issues do not show up until you use the machine for a while. I'm not sure I'd ever buy a used one again, but I sure as hell can not afford a new one. :-)

    Machine tools are made of a tough steel that rusts nearly instantly if not kept oiled. You can easily ruin your tools by neglecting them.

    Evaluate if you have the needed 3D thinking skills on a lathe, you'll know if you have the knack or not really quickly.
    abebooks.com is your friend.

    You can do some wicked stuff with just a Dremel tool, but that requires thinking and good hand/eye skills.

    Please see attached...

    Steve
    Awesome stuff Steve, I will add these links to my browser once I get home. I will soon have a highly modified xxarve set up in my office that will have screw drive and new smooth stepper boards with Mach 4. I will have to build a shroud for it so I don’t have aluminum all over my carpet. Real estate and metal buildings are extraordinarily expensive here.

    I am also designing out a MoSi2 furnace for casting parts. There are Chinese companies that sell the elements and thermocouples with controller for like $400 ish.

    On my current pay these things will likely take the better part of the year. I am doing an A&P prep course with an instructor that has a close relationship with the examinar. $575 - 700 to an A&P in my pocket is a smokin deal .... so I will buy the boards and heater afterwards.

    Are there special attachments for glass and metal working with a dremel tool? I do have a dremel and a steady hand and good eye.
    Last edited by akmetal; 01-09-2019 at 14:22.

  7. #7
    mixedgas's Avatar
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    I do 90% of my Dremel work with standard abrasive cutoff blades, but do put on safety glasses, they love to shatter.
    I'm on like Dremel number 4 over 20 some years, I wear out the bearings and collets. I like Fordhams with the flexible shaft, we have them at work.

    I gotta go look up Xarvve... See what that is...

    Steve
    Qui habet Christos, habet Vitam!
    I should have rented the space under my name for advertising.
    When I still could have...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    I do 90% of my Dremel work with standard abrasive cutoff blades, but do put on safety glasses, they love to shatter.
    I'm on like Dremel number 4 over 20 some years, I wear out the bearings and collets. I like Fordhams with the flexible shaft, we have them at work.

    I gotta go look up Xarvve... See what that is...

    Steve
    Xcarve - they are junk out of the box but I am hopping with significant mods will be nice.

  9. #9
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    ... what are the building dimensions and rigidity specs you're looking for?

    When active with "microtech" +15 years ago, I've modified some Isel-CNC-mills for higher rigidity and resolution - did some "high-tech" and precision stuff with them too ... PEEK, aluminium, brass, (steel-sheets) with accuracies down to 2-3 microns in smaller parts

    Actually I'm using an Isel MiniFlat prototype (with servos instead of steppers) for my laser-worx and an Isel EP1090 for milling - attached images of the MiniFlat and EP1090 together and the EP1090 with a "car-PC"-controller alone ...

    Viktor
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Laserfraesen2.jpg  

    Isel-Fräse EP1090 mit Car-PC.jpg  

    Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - https://reprap.org/forum/list.php?426
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  10. #10
    mixedgas's Avatar
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    Xcarve will teach you a surprising amount toward metal machining. Looks like fun..
    Steve
    Qui habet Christos, habet Vitam!
    I should have rented the space under my name for advertising.
    When I still could have...

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