Our client for this one manufactures nanomaterials used in the semiconductor industry. They use laser pyrolysis to make those tiny little nanoparticles, and came to us needing a precision-machined laser sighting device – in a very big hurry. Tolerances were pretty tight – to fit where it needed to go, the diameter of the sight had to be within .002” (two one-thousandths of an inch). That’s about half the thickness of a human hair. We machined the part on the lathe, from a short length of cast acrylic rod, polished the end, and then used the CNC vertical mill to engrave the cross-hair pattern. We got them what they needed with only a one day turnaround, and the new laser sight worked out great.
Cool project of the week: A Star Trek-inspired, three dimensional chess board/cupcake holder. Our customer’s daughter was getting married. She and her fiancé are both die-hard “Trekkies,” and wanted a bit of the Star Trek vibe at their wedding reception. So her dad commissioned us to fabricate a very cool-looking cupcake holder, inspired by the futuristic, 3D “chess” set Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock played on in the original series, back in the late 1960’s. The 3D chess set also appeared in the later “Star Trek-The Next Generation” series, in various Star Trek movies, and in The Big Bang Theory (just a bit of Trekkie trivia for you). Anyway, our customer emailed us the design as a .dxf computer-assisted design file, which imported nicely to our CAD/CAM software. Once the parts were programmed, we machined everything with the CNC router, using mainly one inch thick, clear cast acrylic. The edges came out nice and smooth, and we flame polished all the machined surfaces to give everything a crystal clear, futuristic look. To assemble the pieces, we used solvent bonding, with a few strategically placed, stainless steel screws set down in countersinks just below the surface. Although we didn’t make it to the wedding, we’re told the bride and groom were very pleased. Live long and prosper!