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Open Works: CNC Training and an Awesome Dog Bowl

Ziger/Snead had the pleasure of attending a training class for the CNC mill and laser cutter at Open Works last week!

Open Works, a maker space in Baltimore’s Greenmount West neighborhood, opened last year giving the community access to the latest digital fabrication technology. Open Work’s mission is to make “tools, technology, and the knowledge to use them accessible to all.” Both the tools and the experienced staff are an incredible resource for Baltimore’s design community. Now that we've made the first step and attending a training class, we can’t wait to get our hands dirty making models and testing out new ideas.

The CNC mill is a digitally controlled router than can follow coordinates generated from a digital drawing to cut sheet material. It allows us to get extremely accurate cuts and saves the time and hassle of measuring and setting up jigs to get straight cuts. Open works has three CNC mills, all of which can cut material up to four feet wide by 8 feet long, and up to 4 inches deep. The laser cutter similarly makes cuts based on a digital drawing, but it uses a laser to cut through or engrave material. The largest laser cutter at Open Works can take up to a twenty-eight inch by forty inch sheet of material. Laser cutters can be used to cut thinner material from paper up to one-half inch of wood, or to engrave the surface of materials.

With the help of our Open Works instructor, Ben, the members of the Ziger/Snead team designed and fabricated a raised dog feeder station to serve some of our most valuable employees – the office dogs! The feeder was designed in Rhinoceros.

The three pieces slot together with a mortise and tenon joint on each side – no fasteners or glue required. Because our slots are routed with a cylindrical end mill on the CNC mill, it isn’t possible to have 90 degree interior corners. To enable our pieces to fit together, we had the mill drill “bear ears” at these corners corner.

We translated our Rhinoceros drawings into cut files the CNC mill can read using another software called V-Carve. All of our cuts are interior or exterior profile cuts. The first cuts are made with a down-cutting end mill, which gives us a clean edge on the front of our wood pieces. We switched to an up-cutting end mill for the final cuts to give us a clean edge on the back of our wood pieces. Once the CNC finished cutting, there was only a little bit of sanding to do to clean up the edges of the feeder.

The final touch, the engraving, was done on the laser cutter. We oriented the laser cutter to the corner of our feeder top so that we could get the engraving in just the right spot, and adjusted the power settings to get the color we were looking for. Twelve seconds later the feeder was officially emblazoned with the title “PETZKER PRIZE”.

Stay tuned for future experimentations and fabrications #madeatopenworks!