A while back I designed one of my childhood dream vehicles, a Big Wheels. I decided while I was in Australia to actually cut it out with our ShopBot Desktop and drive it around. When I moved back to Canada with my Trotec Speedy 400 flexx, I wanted to prove to myself that my design could just as easily cut with a laser and WORK – and by extension, could be cut with a water jet, plasma and even 3D printed (in sections).
Here is the video of the of the cut, assembly and build. I needed some serious floor space to cut and build this entire model and had to redesign the steering column to account for my weight.
Why is this possible? Simply put, I realized long ago that regardless of the “head” on these CNC machines, the designing process for all of them is the SAME (mostly). Each CNC machine has its costs and benefits, where the power of the laser starts to fade, another CNC will start to shine.
Designing knowing these differences and accounting for most of them in one design is what takes a bit of practice, something I’ve done with over 200 designs thus far. When a customer says they want something cut with a specific CNC platform, my first question is always “why?” because I want to understand their reasoning.
After building the original Wooden Big Wheels out of 1/4 inch (6 mm) plywood, I decided I wasn’t going through that again with the laser so I cut it at half scale. How did I do this? I just scaled the whole project down 50% to be cut out of 3 mm hardboard instead. This is ONLY possible because of my design approach. I don’t use ANY measurements, everything is relative to material thickness so doing this at different scales is EASY!
The advantage to cutting this with the Trotec Laser over our ShopBot Desktop is platform size, being able to cut MORE per cutting cycle is a massive advantage. I could have cut this full size on the Trotec quite easily by the way using the same 1/4 inch (6 mm) plywood I used for last time around.
The nesting can be dramatically tighter using a laser than router, that’s both good and bad, the good is far less goes into the fire pit but the whole shop smells like the fit pit by the time all these pieces are cut out!
Ah, the masking. As I was using “cheap” hardboard for this project, I masked everything. Smoke damage isn’t a problem with good wood but it’s a pain to remove from hardboard, a little extra work before and after the cutting process saved me a lot of sanding down the road.
After all the parts were sorted, I designed my Wooden Big Wheels to be EASY to build because I hate complicated projects especially when they have over 250 individual parts! I also designed it so that parts were “unique enough” to be easily noticeable, another thing I hate about model making is when parts look to similar and you need a guide to figure out which is which.
This project was clamp intensive, so I had to get another set of them for the CNCROi.com shop. The nice thing about doing things half-scale is that it’s far easier to sort things out, your canvas is smaller so doing this on a table rather than a floor is a nice change of pace.
Voila, the finished CNC laser cut Wooden Big Wheels! The hammer was thrown in for scale. Here are some videos to show you the cutting and assembly of this model.
CNCROi.com: CNC Laser Cutting Wooden Big Wheels
CNCROi.com: Building a Laser Cut Wooden Big Wheels
The question I’m sure somebody will ask me next is can this actually move like the original? Yes, the wheels spin, the column turns and the pedals actually do work but I’m just too big to drive it and this being made out of hardboard instead of solid plywood, probably not something you’d want your kid to play with in the rain. Looks good though!
Looking for a company that can design, cut and build just about anything? CNCROi.com.
Oh yeah, if you want to build your very own, you can now buy the physical kit at CNCKing.com!