I had a trip to the local Fab Lab to CNC mill some test faceplates for Stripe.
A CNC router is a machine that can move around in the X, Y and Z axis and carries a rotating tool. The rotating tool is a bit like a drill, except that it is suited for drilling sideways instead of up and down. With it, you can make intricate shapes from different solid materials such as wood, plastics and even metals. CNC stands for computer numeric control, which means that the X, Y and Z axes can be controlled by a computer program. At Protospace Utrecht, they have a huge CNC router:
Protospace is a Fab Lab – a fabrication laboratory with different machines for digital fabrication: 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc routers and more. The nice thing about a Fab Lab is that you can use their digital fabrication facilities at no other cost than sharing your ideas and fabrication files. Stripe being an Open Design project, meeting the requirement of having to share files was no problem at all.
In my previous blog post, Stripe: a quick illustration, I showed the following illustration of the current design:
The one-meter long part is the wooden faceplate. The little dots are holes for the LEDs. The holes need to be positioned accurately to align with the LEDs. Also, a slot has to be made at the back for the LED strip to slide in. Both are a piece of cake for a CNC router so after writing the instructions for the CNC router in G-code and getting some oak and beech I started milling:
After some issues with attaching the faceplate to the router bed and some alterations of the G-code, I ended up with perfectly spaced holes and a slot in which the aluminium strip fit perfectly: