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Old 06-30-2006, 10:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Water Jet Cutting a Case

For my next build I want to take a standard case (something along the lines of the Lian Li PC-61) and cut my own window. I like the aforementioned case mainly because the side panels don't have any grills, fans, or other holes/ridges that would get in the way of a window. Also the inside of the case seems pretty open, thus allowing for a bigger window.

The window I plan to make will be a custom design incorporating the letter S (my last name's first letter) in some way, shape, or form. My initial designs were relatively simply to allow for an easier time cutting. However, I then remembered that my school has a water jet cutter that I can more than likely use for this project. At this point the whole idea of keeping it simple went out the window (no pun intended) since water jet cutters can be extremely detailed - see here for some examples. I more than likely won't be using any window molding since some of the holes will more than likely be too small for it.

For those of you that don't feel like reading up on it, these machines use a very fine stream of water (about 0.01" diameter) at absurdly high pressure (ranging from 20 to 60 ksi) to cut whatever material you need cut. They were originally designed to cut lumber but can now cut through anything ranging from fiberglass insulation to metal to food to concrete.

Now, I've never used a water jet cutter before nor do I know the specs of mine such as whether it's pure water or abrasive. However, I don't think the specs would really matter seeing as how the material I will be cutting through won't be more than 1.0 mm thick. I'm wondering if anyone here has had experience with a water jet cutter whether it was used in modding a computer or not. I did a Search on these boards looking for people that made their own windows and I only came across one thread that made mention of it and it was about a year old. From what I understand you have to import a CAD file into the machine and then do some tweaks to line it up properly as well as show it which path you want it to cut. I am well versed with AutoCAD 2006 so desiging it isn't a problem, it's getting it from AutoCAD to the panel that I'm not sure of.

I can easily obtain instruction once I get back to school but I'm really excited about the idea of using this process and wanted some input on it.

Oh, on a little side note, the computer I'm running now isn't that old so I don't plan on actually doing this build for another year or so. Right now I'm just trying to figure out if this idea will work so that I can get serious about designing the window.

Here's a preliminary layout that I had in mind and threw together over the past couple days, let me know what you guys think.
Just to clarify, the blue parts are the parts are cut out.

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Old 06-30-2006, 11:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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water jet cutting (wjc) should do your design no problem. i've notice though that most side panels are multi-layered metal... this may cause u a problem because it is not a solid piece but possibly not (wjc's can blow thru some pretty thick metal)

are you sure you don't have to write a GCode program for teh cutter? it would be cool if it can convert the acad file to gcode for you... cadcam and other cam (computer aided machining)programs can do it so maybe. it surely runs on gcode though for specifying cutting paths/cutting intensity/speed/etc.

good luck, let me know if u need any help w/gcoding or anything

p.s. was there a question in your post? i didnt see one on my first read
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Old 06-30-2006, 12:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by cwiz
water jet cutting (wjc) should do your design no problem. i've notice though that most side panels are multi-layered metal... this may cause u a problem because it is not a solid piece but possibly not (wjc's can blow thru some pretty thick metal)
Yeah, I've been reading up on WJCs and some models can cut through as much as 9" of steel. That's pretty ridiculous.

Quote:
Originally posted by cwiz
are you sure you don't have to write a GCode program for teh cutter? it would be cool if it can convert the acad file to gcode for you... cadcam and other cam (computer aided machining)programs can do it so maybe. it surely runs on gcode though for specifying cutting paths/cutting intensity/speed/etc.
Heh, this is one of the reasons why I made this thread. I've never used a WJC before so I'm not all that clear on how you get from a CAD drawing to a finished product. I'm not sure what sort of software the WJC at my school runs though I can always ask the shop technician for some help. I seem to remember overhearing that all you had to do was convert an AutoCAD drawing and then specify the cutting path though I'm not sure. Is GCode hard to learn/write?

Quote:
Originally posted by cwiz
p.s. was there a question in your post? i didnt see one on my first read
I was just looking for some advice on WJCs since I don't have any experience with them. I asked around on another computer forum but nobody seemed to have any knowledge of how to operate them.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well if you have one at school wouldn't there be someone who knows how to operate it?
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Old 06-30-2006, 07:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I thought water jet cutters used small stones to cut and the water just pushed them at really high speeds?? Kinda like sand blasting but with water instead....
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by reggie_da_man
Well if you have one at school wouldn't there be someone who knows how to operate it?
Yes but I don't want to approach the lab tech without having done my homework. I'd rather reveal my ignorance on an online forum than to a person that I'd see on a regular basis.

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Originally posted by charles_scott
I thought water jet cutters used small stones to cut and the water just pushed them at really high speeds?? Kinda like sand blasting but with water instead....
There are two types of water cutters - pure and abrasive. Pure water cutters are refered to as waterjets while abrasive cutters are refered to as abrasivejets. However, they are both commonly known as waterjets. Pure water cutters can cut soft materials such as foam, rubber, cloth, paper, etc. whereas abrasivjets are needed to cut or machine nearly any hard material such as metal, stone, glass, etc. Abrasivejets usually use garnet as their cutting medium.
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Old 07-07-2006, 09:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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There's nothing wrong with not knowing how to use the machine and it's not really ignorance. If there is someone who has a great knowlege of the machine and it's operation don't be afraid to ask them about it. People who have hands on knowlege are great people to ask your finer pointed questions.
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