Standard Wire Gauge. Made in TechShop. 1/8" Acrylic Material.

Introduction: Standard Wire Gauge. Made in TechShop. 1/8" Acrylic Material.

Project Goal: 
    To make a Standard Wire Gauge out of 1/8" Acrylic. 

    Thank you to all staff, instructors and fellow members who have supported this project and assisted me during my learning process.

Step 1: Standard Wire Gauge. Made in TechShop. 1/8" Acrylic Material.

Part 1 of 2

* Material: 1/8" Clear Acrylic
* At TechShop, we use Corel Draw X5 for our CAD.
* We use 60W Epilog Laser Cutter and Raster
* Part size: 6" x 2". Create 6" x 2" rectangle.  Use fillet to desired radius.
* Create 37 rectangles 14 along the bottom edge and 23 along the top edge.
* Create 2 text label 36 to 14 and 0 to 13. Space them evenly for now.
* On each of the boxes make the width correspond to the inches width of the gauge using the table below.
* Box select the rectangles and edit the rectangle height to 0.5 inch.
* In this project, we will do SWG from 0 to 36
* Use Measure Tool to measure distance of each neighboring rectangles as shown.
* Create circles for each rectangle with radius slightly larger than the rectangle width.
* Attach the circles, to the tip of the rectangles as shown. Centered it.  Zoom in and center attached the circle to its corresponding rectangle tip (as shown in picture.
* Re-space the rectangle and circle sets so that perimeters of the circles are not too close to its neigboring circle. Box select groups and move using left or right arrow key. 
* Before moving the top and bottom sets of rectangles and circles, remove all Measure Labels.  Use Box Select and DEL key.
* Use Box Select and move the rectangle and circle sets to their proper places.
* Box select all rectangle and circle and set as Hairline Outline.
* Save file.

Step 2: Standard Wire Gauge. Made in TechShop. 1/8" Acrylic Material.

Part 2 of 2

The final layout is shown here. I did not bother trim the squares and arcs.  I like my slot edges cross cut instead of the laser cutter turn at corners.  I added the hole only after my last try. 

There are many trial and error to get to this point. I made a lot of mistakes along the way.  So don't give up easily.
For examples, the diameters of the circles were too big in my 1st attempt and the part broke off because the holes were too close to each other.   So I minimize the diameters.  So long as the diameters of the circle are centered and slight larger than the slot, they should work.  The final font size were also maximized after a few tries. 

I tried with machine parameters
   Raster is best at 100/70 Speed /Power
   Vector is best at   5/90/5000 Speed /Power/Frequency

The last step would be to validate for accuracy.  I bought a stainless steel one online.  I went to Home Depot nearby and the guy was so nice to cut a few 1" samples that I could test.  Since the laser is cutting through the Acrylic, you might like to adjust the hole gap by 0.005".  Or ask the experts around the area for some tips.

Since the machine set up and the actual material property of the acrylic could vary, the actual slot accuracy and adjustment could vary.   So a final validation is needed.

   Also, I found that some slots were not quite squared so I might slow the speed or increase power slightly more.

   When testing the SWG with various wire sizes, make sure the wire test specimen are straight and the insulation cleanly stripped.  Align the wire to the slot.  Do not force it to enter.  Just gently fit them.

   Keep your hands, wires and surfaces clean so to preserve the life of this instrument.  After each use, keep the gauge in a protective case so not to break or bend it.  I like using hard case for eyeglasses.

   In the future, I would try to learn how to paint the test.  I attempted with car spray paint but the results were not good.
I sprayed black paint after scanning but it did not work well.  

   Have Fun!  I did.  Thank you for reading.

   It is always fun to learn and create new things at Techshop.  If you get stuck, there is always someone very happy to assist you.

   I just got my Stainless Steel SWG that I ordered online.  I compared the results using some wire samples.  Gauge 14 and larger holes have acceptable results.  For the smaller gauge sizes, the gaps appear to be larger than those of the Steel SWG. As expected, some fine tuning is required to account for the increase of gap distance due to laser cutting. 
   Thank you for Kerf Gauge suggestion as well.  I will give it a try.

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    Would you mind sharing your file here or on thingiverse?

    I'd like to experiment with 3d printing one and no sense re-inventing the wheel...

    Bad Bunny Girl
    Bad Bunny Girl

    Reply 6 years ago

    Don't bother 3D printing this. The accuracy of your printer will not be good enough. There is no point in printing a measuring tool unless it can be perfect.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    No problem. I might have left my memory stick at the shop. I will find it tomorrow and upload it here. I got my stainless steel SWG today. I will conduct some comparison test.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Your cuts will be off by 50% of the amount of kerf. You can test the amount of kerf (depends on your material and laser settings) with a Kerf Gauge.

    Bad Bunny Girl
    Bad Bunny Girl

    Reply 6 years ago

    Actually, you have real CAD software at TechShop. Why fight with CorelDraw when you need exact dimensions?

    And I 100% I agree with lime3D. The laser cutter will cut all your vector cuts directly on your lines. In order to create this part correctly, you need to first create some test cuts in your material of choice. Then use a feeler gauge to measure the exact kerf (width) of the cut (which may also be affected by the power and speed settings, so be sure to record them).

    Then using a real CAD program like AutoCAD or Inventor (you have both at TechShop) create your drawing with real dimensions. Then offset the lines by 50% of the thickness you measured with the gauge.

    Save your CAD drawing as a DXF and bring it into CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator for cutting on the laser.