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How to score... on a water jet.

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In this instructable, I'm going to explain the basics of scoring sheet metal (steel) to allow folds that are usually difficult on a finger brake.

It's usually nearly impossible to use a brake to fold lines to a point, so I'm using a pyramidal polyhedra to illustrate this concept.

Enjoy!
 
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Step 1: File Preparation: vectors & flow path software

The first step is creating a pattern to cut & score: I chose a nice heptagonal pyramid.  

You're going to be working with vectors, and the FlowPath software does best with files of type ai v 10 or autocad 10 dxfs.  It is a bit finicky about the files it will open so make sure to back-save to one of these formats, and keep your original on hand for edits.

I'm not going to go into much detail about the FlowPath software we use to prepare cutting paths, save for the necessary info which is: there's a 'scribe' function.  If you're familiar with the software, you know that you select the vectors you want to cut and assign speeds to them based on the level of precision you're hoping to achieve.  

Make a box around your shapes; you'll be creating two separate cut files, one score and one cut, and to make sure they line up you'll want to have something to snap to the corner of the cutting envelope.

Next to those colorful speed buttons in the lower lefthand corner, there's a grey button which means 'scribe'.  The water jet will move over all the vectors you assign this speed to at a much faster rate; the precise rate will be determined when you set up your material properties at the water jet itself.

Here are some pyramids to play with; thanks to [Copyright © 1998-2008 Gijs Korthals Altes www.korthalsaltes.com]

These are also great for the laser cutter.
krowney1 year ago
Really cool project. Definitely an inspiration for me on these:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/51533239@N05/7135814631/

I am wondering how "scribe mode" results compare with other techniques. Am not sure if i have this right, but does "scribe mode" use normal high pressure and abrasive but just goes really fast so it doesnt actually pierce the metal?

On my polyhedra, i scored the metal using low pressure mode (on the console right near the green button to boot up the pump) plus abrasive and low (20%) speed. I measured the depth of scoring with calipers and got down to about half way through 16ga mild steel.

Frankly, i'd prefer to score even deeper than half way. The "old fashioned" methods of working these objects into their final forms can be daunting. Deeper scoring would make the final bending easier.

I guess i should also just try thinner metal.

The tetrahedron came together easy enough, but the higer order polyhedra are harder. The dodecahedron was right at the limit of my ability and required some work with flame and hammer blows to get fully into shape. Havent yet got out the hammer and tongs for the icosahedron.

Anyway, really cool project. Thanks for the inspiration.
From the Copyright on the PDFs it appears that you found them here:
Copyright © 1998-2008 Gijs Korthals Altes www.korthalsaltes.com
There is a huge selection of polyhedra on that site. A fun site that has polyhedra made from intriguing various materials and that is fun to visit is this one: http://momath.org/home/math-monday/
Aron3132 years ago
I would love to have a water jet. :(
houndstoothy (author)  Aron3132 years ago
Me too! It's only because I work at TechShop that I have access to one. We're a membership based workshop where we teach people how to use all kinds of machines and tools, and then give our members access to them for their projects.
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