Software Design, CNC Controller for a Silhouette Cameo, and Pepakura Papercraft
Among other things I am a huge comic book fan, and recently a huge Iron Man fan. To be honest I never got into the Iron Man comics (although I loved the Extremis story line, but I digress), but when Iron Man 1 & 2 and the Avengers and all the Marvel movies came out, I loved Iron Man. So I wanted to make a costume. This page is devoted to my thoughts and ramblings on such.
Pepakura is a software that takes a 3D model and converts it into 2D shapes that can be printed, cut, then glued together to create a physical representation of a model. Remember the first day in CAD/Blueprints class, where you had to do something along the lines of “unfolding” a cube onto a piece of paper, so that when you cut it out and folded it right it made an actual cube? This is similar, only using much more complex 3D models.
Now, I could write volumes on the details of every step of the Pepakura process, but instead I’ll just give a brief overview because this page is about much more than just making a costume. Essentially a CAD file is unfolded in the Pepakura software, printed out onto some heavy cardstock paper, cut out with Xacto knives, glued together and folded correctly. There, that was easy, right? Well now that the paper model is complete, you coat it with a layer of Epoxy (I use a Smooth-On product, others use Fiberglass Resin) to give the paper some rigidity, then you apply Fiberglass cloth and add another layer of epoxy so that the paper model is now nice and rigid, then finally add some Bondo to the surface to smooth out the edges, then sand the Bondo, then add more Bondo, then sand, and sand, and sand, then finally paint. Done!
Seriously, it is a daunting task. I completely respect those who have completed a costume. I was in a hurry to make my costume because my family has “themed” Christmases, with 2015 being “Superheroes”, so of course I tried making an entire suit in only two months. Didn’t even get close. But when I started I thought “Hey, can I get a CNC paper cutter so I don’t have to cut out all of the shapes with an X-acto knife?” And it turns out, I could! And I did! Introduce the Silhouette Cameo! I got this little machine and to be honest, at first I wasn’t saving any time at all. But eventually I learned all the little shortcuts and got familiar with the software, and things sped up. Oh yeah, I also broke the touch screen while I was trying to tinker with the microcontroller, so I had to figure out a work around so I didn’t have to use the touch screen. That took a while. Anyways, I made a video on how to use the Silhouette Cameo as efficiently as possible to cut Pepakura files, you can see the video here.
By now you are probably wondering what this page is even about. Pepakura, Iron Man, Silhouette Cameo, I get it. There are a few things that I am going to cover here. I have a few goals I want to accomplish, and all of the previous information is highly relevant I promise. Here is a list of the projects that are involved, and links to their pages:
- Design a new piece of software to replace the Pepakura software.
- Develop a new method of applying fiberglass and bondo that is faster, more accurate, and doesn’t require a respirator.
- Develop a new software to control the Silhouette Cameo and tailor it to streamline cutting Pepakura files. – This is the one that I am closest to achieving.