Monday, June 9, 2014

The Cricut Explore as a CNC machine for Model Railroads

The Cricut Explore as a CNC machine for Model Railroads

Shortly I'm going to give you a pretty good review of the Cricut Explore.  But first I wanted to give everybody the heads up that I'm experimenting with now and I have a couple first impressions.

1.  To use this machine you need to know how to make .svg graphics with alpha transparency.  There are lots of programs that do this nicely and I haven't really picked a favorite yet.

2.  The thinner the sheet of plastic you are using the more accurate cut you will get.  This opens up a whole realm of possibilities that haven't been practical in the past.  I'm especially interested in trying paper thin sheets to use as rounded sheet metal.

3.  The combination of parts to make an assembly is really exciting.  Recently I mentioned a project where I'm placing an MP15DC cab on an Athearn DD40 to make a huge switcher.  I'm going to add 2 details that I'll make with the Cricut - a Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer at the front of the locomotive just like the kind found on tanks and a massive illumination system like the kind found on fishing boats.  It might look crazy, but it will be fun.

The Cricut Explore opens a whole new world of kitbashing possibilities.  I know that many projects take far too long to complete solely because the fabrication of accurate parts is such a daunting task.

On my first try, I made a set of parts to restore the pilots on the front and rear of an FP40 that I've been working on.  It was simple.  Plus, the pattern is saved in my library and I can do it all over again whenever I need to.