New room, new machines, new projects!

After having started HoFaLab in January 2019, our first priority was to get a proper place where we could store our machines and start experimenting.

On 30.04.2019, we got the keys from the room over the Wood Workshop. We are so grateful that they let us use this space, as it is a great place to start our own lab. So a big thank you to the Wood Workshop: we will take care of your place!

On the same day, we got a nice surprise as the Metal Workshop next door offered use an old but powerful 3 axis CNC milling machine which they were not using anymore. So another big thank you to the Metal Workshop: we will make great use of this new tool!

After a bit of tidying up, Christian and Florian built a large table, that we can use as a workbench as well. Andrรฉ and Thierry built some shelves, while David extended the storage area for all our machines.

Our next goal was then to get the CNC going. The hardware was intact, but the software was still running on an old Windows XP desktop computer. But no problem for Piet! He was able to reverse engineer the proprietary protocol from the machine. He programmed for it a python script that allows us to control the CNC from any laptop and Operating System with the most modern milling softwares available.

The result is mind blowing as we are now able to mill very precisely many materials with a build size of 40 x 30 cm, which is more than enough to produce complex parts. So far we have really good results with wood, polystyrene, linoleum and we want to try milling aluminum soon ๐Ÿ™‚ Fabian’s experience in this field will for sure help us a lot. So this machine is a perfect complement to the small CNC we have built during the Creative Afternoons.

Another tool fun to develop was a Pen Plotter. It would have been possible to build it from scratch, but the easiest way, was again to use a โ€œConversion kitโ€.

The idea was to use a 3D printer and install a pen holder on the extruder, and use the X and Y movement possibilities to be able to draw with a pen.

By tweaking the slicer program, the 3D printer can be used to plot nearly any digital image on surface of 30 x 30 cm. Again, the immediate result was overwhelming, as the level of precision, exceeded our expectations.

We are so excited about all the possibilities offered by these new tools! Part of the resulting ideas and project will be presented in the Summer Exhibition on 27.07.2019. So be sure to be there!

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