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This is actually a project I've been wanting to do for a while, and this competition is as good an excuse as any to actually do it!

The idea is a modular set of risers and conveyors for an industrial-style setting. Think coal conveyors and the like. Where this fits into this particular competition is that the conveyor components themselves are "printed" using a 50W Epilog Helix laser cutter.

The first step was component design. I started by laying out my design in SketchUp, which is a great way to make sure everything fits together in 3D. I wanted things to be modular, so special attention was made to the way in which things would connect together. Once I had my general design done, I started breaking it down into its component pieces and laying those pieces out. The laser cutter I was using has a 24" x 12" cutting bed, so the trick is cramming as much stuff as you can into that space. Here's one of my layouts:

[Image: QqEzWNocZIOQ4w3x_wLaoiZ9i6-vrS8_KUZRifTR...00-no?.jpg]
The other once has even less "white space," as it has more of the riser and conveyor components themselves, which stack very nicely.

Armed with the final layouts, I went to our local maker-space and rented some time on the cutting laser:

[Image: iq_Dhodi46xoqIa1-c3aIWKtltnl1mhl80H52Ec7...00-no?.jpg]

This particular pattern took almost 90 minutes to cut fully, and almost another 30 to pull out all the tiny components, sort, and bag everything up. But still, after an evening cutting, I was ready to begin my assembly.

These are just a couple of the components that I assembled just to make sure everything fits correctly:
[Image: 0adJ5eaf2CLTwAJn4X7wzEJLazUot9LHLG_iusRk...00-no?.jpg]

Here we have a 2" tall linear pass-through (conveyors can come in on both sides) and a 4" tall riser topped by a rotating cage (pairs of these allow conveyors to turn at any arbitrary angle) connected by a 12" conveyor.

Here's a better shot of the conveyor itself:
[Image: Qpqqt10CSlaJr7KCSNXJxxp8v1dWNPwXMp4c1Dkc...00-no?.jpg]

In this shot you can see the upper roller deck, which has canted rollers. This keeps loose material (like ore or coal or whatever) from falling off the conveyor. It's a little hard to see, but there's a set of return rollers underneath as well. Once the conveyor itself is primed and painted, I'll use something like fine-grit sandpaper for the actual conveyor belt itself, wrapping it around, gluing it in place, and putting "ore" on the transport surface.

If you're curious, there are a number of places where there are anchor rods - the holes to accommodate these were sized such that plastic Q-tip shafts fit perfectly. You can actually see one with the fuzzy end still attached in the above photo (to the right of the upper turn-cage).

I'm really happy with the way this is turning out so far, as everything fits pretty much exactly the way I envisioned. That's not always the case when you're working with a new design. Anyway, now it's down to cutting the other pattern (I laid out a bunch of components across two patterns), assembling more pieces, and getting moving on the painting. I'd like to add some other texturing and details such that these look a little bit less obviously like MDF terrain, but we'll see how much time escapes me.
Nice laser.

Which model is that? We have a couple of Epilogs at work.
Very slick, can't wait to see what you do next.
OK, I cut out the other pattern last night. Having some time between the two cuts was good, because I miscalculated the number of one of the tiny components I needed. Fortunately, I was able to add them to the other pattern such that I could make up the difference. I've been thinking about how I want to add my texture components, and I think I'm going to do several layers of cardstock and see how that works.
Aaaargh. Coming off a brutal week of work travel and about to head into a suddenly rescheduled family camping trip, I'm not going to be able to finish for this competition. Which sucks, because I have a whole bunch of stuff assembled now (and a big bag of even more components awaiting assembly). Sorry, all. Sad