Fun with Appliqué and Embroidery – multi-tool projects at Nova Labs

Ed note: This article was provided by Jeff Chanesman, a Nova Labs key member and steward in the woodshop, laser lab, and instructor for our CNC embroidery machine. Look for sessions on our Meetup page.

Applique pillowThe embroidery machine isn’t just for embroidery. Suzanne and I made these fun pillows using appliqué. Appliqué is the sewing of fabric onto larger piece of fabric to create pictures. The only thread used in this example is black. All the colors you see are pieces of fleece cut on the laser cutter and then sewn into place. It’s like painting with cloth!!!

This was very easy to do with the embroidery software we have at Nova Labs; Hatch from Wilcom. Shapes are imported or created and the converted to appliqué. This not only automatically creates the stitches to hold it in place but also creates stitch outlines for placing your pieces of fabric. You can then print out a template for cutting out your fabric “parts” or print them to PDF so you can convert them to DXF for laser cutting. I was able to cut out the eye, iris, and mouth for twenty of these pillow guys in less than 15 minutes including setup.

A bunch of pillows

You could easily make all sorts of projects using this technique. From potholders to stuffed animal friends.

I will give you an overview of instructions for doing this below, but remember you need to be signed off on the embroidery machine (and laser cutter if you plan on using it to cut your fabric) in order to sew these at Nova Labs. Hatch software is installed on all the machine in the CAD lab and you are more than welcome to use it but I would strongly encourage you to take the class. It is easy to use but can be daunting at first, especially if you are a first timer, as there are many specialized tools and settings.

Digitize AppliqueSuzanne created the initial design in Adobe Illustrator but you can use anything including Inkscape or CorelDraw (in fact if you happen to have CorelDraw X6 it integrates directly into Hatch). I had her size it to the exact dimensions she wanted and then saved it as a PNG. You then import the PNG into Hatch for digitizing. Using the Appliqué toolbox from Hatch’s left side menu. Digitize your shapes and then use the Object Properties toolbox from the right side menu to select fabric type as well as the kind of stitches to be used. This is also where you can select whether or not you will be using pre-cut fabric, or if you intend to trim in place.

Objects menuFor my project I chose pre-cut. Once you are done with each piece, save and export to the desired embroidery file type. You can then print out the templates to PDF. The machines in the CAD lab have the “Microsoft Print to PDF” as one of the printer selections. Choose this and save the file to a known location.
Import this into Inkscape or similar and save/convert it as a DXF in millimeters for importing into the laser software. If you are using Fleece, 400 speed 70 power works pretty well.

Hoop your fabric and stabilizer on the embroidery machine.

Load and run your embroidery file. The first stitch will be your placement. It will outline the location of where to place your pre-cut fabric pieces and then stop. Spray the piece with temporary fabric adhesive and place onto your fabric. Start the next part of the file which will tack and stitch your cover. Move on to each piece until complete.
Let me know if you have questions or if you would like a class specific to this sort of project.

Applique pillow eyeball

Parts of the eye after the outline (for placement) and tack-stitch were finished. The next step will be a satin stitch to cover the edge and provide a solid outline around the parts.

 

Lil Dragon v-tail quadcopter – developed at Nova Labs

Building a 250 quad racer from scratch

With 250 quad racing becoming more and more popular and local racing events starting to pop-up, Nova Labs member Fred Briggs decided to give it a try. Being a Maker, he didn’t want to buy the same ole’ frame that everyone else had so building from scratch seemed like the obvious way to go. Wanting something a little unique, Fred’s main goals were to develop something that looks cool, flies well, and is inexpensive to build. To meet those goals he quickly decided that Mongo, Nova Labs’ 100 watt laser cutter was a good option for cutting the frame. Having also recently finished building a 3D printer in Nova Labs Build Group 8, having some 3D printed parts seemed logical and a good use for the new tool. Fred also reported always loving the look of the V-tail quads so he settled on that design.

The design

250vtail2With that design criteria in mind the next step was CAD. Fred decided to use this project to learn OnShape which is becoming quite popular at Nova Labs. There were some frustrating moments with the CAD but the support of the OnShape User Group at Nova Labs helped through this portion. Once it looked cool in CAD it was time to make something!

20160131_135315Fred was able to get DXF files from OnShape and start to laser cut some wood frames which are simply hot glued together. This went through several iterations and this pic is of an early design. You can see the tabs that allow all the parts to key into place for quick and accurate assembly.

20160226_081607Then the “V” for the rear motors got 3D printed. While initially concerned that it might not be strong enough, some stress testing (i.e. crashing) has proven that the design is plenty strong and Fred hasn’t broken one yet.

Finishing touches

20160206_112645The frame was painted with a rattle can and then put together. To really make it look cool it needed a thermoformed shell and this was probably the trickiest part of the entire build. It required a CNC routed mold which was made from old 2X4’s that were glued together. After a little sanding and then some paint it came out really well.

Painted_shellOn to the thermoformer!!

20160219_11465720160219_115126Here is some video of the actual thermoforming process:

After trimming it fit great! The electronics are a very tight fit but it does fit.

20160219_21495220160219_220932Here is the finished product with a painted shell. Fred is really happy with the results and it meets all of his design criteria. It flies fantastic, it builds very easily and it gets attention every time it comes out at the field.

After looking at it Fred has decided to call it the Lil Dragon, and he hopes to run classes using the design at Nova Labs.

The final specs on it are 1806, 2300kv motors with 5” carbon props, 2200mah 3S battery and Naze32 flight controller. It gets about 12 minutes of hover and it is shockingly stable.

For more information please contact Fred directly at fred@openaeris.com, or be sure to check out the Open Aeris booth at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire, Sunday, March 13, 2016