April 10, 2015

Trade Show Racking

This was a unique project.  Create trade show racking that would be able to be self standing, able to hang at least 160 scarves or headbands from and be somewhat easy to assemble.  This project was completed for Möbius Threads; a scarf/headband company for use at trade shows all across the province.  First we need to cut some hangers.  14ga hot rolled steel, heavily nested with very little scrap!

2015-03-11 20.32.08

Not much work needed to clean them up off the table.  We cut a lot of 14 ga steel and they come off the table virtually dross free, these went in an acid bath to strip off the mill scale and any minute dross.  The only problem with acid bathing parts with very little dross is that the parts tend to stick together and don’t get 100% clean, so they need to be agitated from time to time to ensure all the surfaces are exposed to the acid.  Heavier dross parts don’t have this problem as the dross naturally spaces the parts apart while the acid removes the mill scale and ultimately the dross falls off at the end of the process.

2015-03-11 20.31.06

Here we have the feet.  They are designed in Solidworks as a solid body, then converted to a multi-sheet metal part.  So in this case each leg has five pieces split apart from one model. This allows the part to be easily fabricated and functions exactly as intended.  Having the bends where the tube will slide into the “receiver” portion is nice as it’s a smooth radius, not a welded edge that would then require blending to make totally smooth.  Just simple tweaks to making a simple to produce part.  Here they are being tacked and partially welded on the inside.  Utimately the perimeter is welded and the welds are blended away.

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This is what the feet look like in CAD, exactly like the real thing.  Very simple to produce and not requiring much effort or skill.  Just time to ensure everything is square, tight and that saves time on the blending the welds at the end.  The parts were all shot with a hammer tone paint to mask the inevitable scratches and dings that would occur setting up and tearing down at a trade show.


This is what the initial rendering looked like.

Rack Assembly-01

And here it is at the first Möbius Threads trade show in Saskatoon!


Thanks for looking!  If you are interested in any of our services please take your time to browse the site.  Any questions or if you want us to begin your future project, don’t hesitate to contact us via the Contact page.

April 2, 2015

Stainless Steel Urn

This project was for my wife.  She whole heartily supports Mint Design and understands the long hours required to build awesome projects for our awesome clients.  So I show my appreciation in many ways, but fabrication is how I do it best.  This is a small urn for my father-in-law that passed away from cancer in 2013.  I only had a few days to make the urn that would be buried, which can be seen in this blog post; Stainless Steel Urn.

Since that time my very patient wife wanted a smaller version that would be used to keep a small part of his ashes safe and secure in our home for all of time.  I took the original model, scaled it down 3:1 and changed how the text would be laid out.  Since it was three sided it seemed quite fitting to have his first, middle and last name engraved on each side.

Here we have the four pieces cut out of 18ga 304 stainless steel.  The paper templates on the top right are used as guides to show where the bend lines should be.  The Baileigh sheet metal brake we have has been modeled in CAD (it was done the first week we had it in the shop) in order to allow us to see bend sequences or raise any red flags if there was any issue with forming a part in the brake.  As you can see on the printout, there is no way to do it as one piece (which was obvious), however it did allow us to figure out the best place to split up the sheet metal piece.

sheet metal urn

Here we have all the pieces formed and ready for TIG welding.

forever urn metal urn

Before welding the final result known was that all the welds would be blended away, so in order to ensure a nice radius’d corner the weld puddle was deliberately made a bit tall.  This allows for a bit more material to remove, but ensures there won’t be any divots or shallow spots on the radius being blended in.  The welds were also made short and back stepped in order to minimize any distortion, of which would be very noticeable on a brushed surface.

urn saskatoon

Here it is completed.

stainless steel urn

Rest in peace Larry.

March 27, 2015

Steel Crate – Industrial Client Part II

Here’s another project where we’ve built another steel crate used to secure oxygen tanks on the back deck of a truck.  It has specific requirements from the customer in terms of loading capacity as well as transportation requirements.  It is using 1.5″ steel tubing, has a 14ga steel top, 10ga steel floor and horizontal support as well as flattened expanded mesh side panels.  This tank is specifically built to transport oxygen tanks and so there are steel sleeves welded into the horizontal support as well as the floor to keep the tanks steady during transport.  This will also allow for easy insertion and removal of the tanks and ensure that no tanks will be loose during transport.  This is the approved CAD model (sans mesh, handle and chain limiting strap).

Open Final Configuration

Here you can see the frame being welded up.  The use of a square (not shown), 3/8″ steel scraps, ratchet strap and clamps are to ensure that everything is square prior to tacking.  This will keep everything nice and square and ensure it won’t need any tweaking before or after welding.

mig weld saskatoon

Some portions of the frame are MIG welded for speed, others are TIG welded for cosmetics.  Gotta love TIG…

TIG saskatoon

The 14ga cold rolled steel lid welded to the lid frame and mocked up on the crate.  The 14ga sheet was cut on the plasma table, then the edges were formed in the box and pan brake to give it a nice radius edge prior to being welded into the lid frame.

fabrication saskatoon

Here the floor and horizontal support are cut out from a 4’x4′ sheet of 10ga steel.

cnc saskatoon

Here we have the steel tubes welded in place on the 10ga horizontal support.

fabrication saskatoon

Here it is mocked up sitting on top of the crate.  The crate will get flipped upside down and the horizontal support will be blocked the correct distance and then it will be welded into the frame.  The smaller holes on the horizontal support are to allow for the optional use of a bungee cord.  There is some clearance between the tube and the tank (as seen on the right), and the use of the bungee cord will pull the tank to the side of the tube and eliminate any vibration or noise.  Also notice the drain holes in the steel floor, just a small detail, but the last thing we’d want is the tubes on the floor to collect and pool water!  The feet were also CNC cut from 1/4″ steel, they’ll distribute the load of the crate as well as the strapping load across a larger surface on the wood deck of the truck, the pounds per square inch were calculated to meet the customer requirement.

mig weld saskatoon

Here’s the crate with it’s first coat of paint.  Notice the mesh is missing?  That’s because you can’t easily paint the inside once the mesh is in place.  So the inside needed to be painted first, then the mesh welded on and then the entire crate gets another final coat of paint before it’s ready to go.  The masking tape is to avoid over spray onto the flat surfaces that the mesh will be welded onto.

custom fabrication saskatoon

Here’s the completed crate (sans latch) still drying from paint.

steel crate oxygen tank oxygen tank steel crate

Thanks for looking!  If you have any questions or a future project you want us to work on, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our Contact page.

March 25, 2015

AVHC Torch Lockout Update

It’s been a little while since we’ve had a blog post!  After a few big transitions and a few more to come we’ve got lots of exciting things in the works to show.  So all excuses aside, there will be more blog posts to come about the work that has flowed through Mint over the last while!  There have been a few people asking about more detail and video about how the AVHC corner/torch lockout works on our table.  So this is a continuation of our AVHC Corner Lockout for Holes blog post.

These two video’s show how well the AVHC lockout performs with having the CAM portion setup correctly and that information being fed to the TM4 software and ultimately controlling the CNC plasma table.  Long story short the lockout allows the torch to run at 60% the recommended straight line cut speed.  The reason for slowing it down is to allow for a straighter hole with less to no taper.  Imagine hanging a bat by holding the end with two fingers, the bat is the plasma arc and your hand is the torch.  If you move your hand quickly the bat is going to lag behind the movement of your hand.  Now do a quick circular motion.  You’ll see that the tip of the bat (furthest from your fingers) will naturally want to point to the center of the arc.  Now the stiffness of the arc is like changing the weight of the bat, in most cases we can’t change that, but what we can change is how fast our hand or torch moves.  So slowing down the movement keeps the tip of the bat lagging behind your hand less.  This is the same principle as with the torch and plasma arc, slower movements in area where there are tight arc’s or heavy directional change features that are critical to the function of the part (bolt holes, slots etc…) warrant slowing things down.  This is why high definition plasma, laser and water jet have very good cut quality, it’s due to the stiffness of the arc or water jet, however at an increased cost.  Take a look at our videos and enjoy.

Cutting Video

TM4 Controller Video

The holes were lightly chamfered, no drilling or grinding of the ID of the hole was necessary.  These are all blasted and ready for powder coating.

AVHC Torch Lockout

Fresh out of the oven after being powder coated wrinkle black and ready for customer pickup!  The items on the left will have a glass sheet put inside the part and it will be installed and used as a flame inspection port.  The items on the right are a badge to be installed on an old school Toyota truck.

laser cutting saskatoon

Stay tuned for more blog posts!  If you like these posts please subscribe, if you’re interested in a future project, please contact us on our Contact page.

October 10, 2014

Steel Crate – Industrial Client

We’ve been a bit a bit behind here with the blog!  This was a project completed a little while ago for an industrial client who needed a prototype crate to be custom designed with specific loading criteria and to meet certain Transport Canada requirements.  Once we had all the requirements listed from the customer the project was modeled in SolidWorks to present the overall design.  It only needed to go through one iteration during FEA (finite element analysis) to meet all the requirements.

mint design saskatoon

This image shows the loads on the crate when strapped onto the deck of a truck (in the worst case scenario) while the cage is fully loaded.  The mesh panels are not intended to be load bearing and would have made the FEA process unnecessarily complex, so the panels were omitted.  However they do add some additional strength and rigidity to the design.

FEA mint design

Once the FEA is completed, the tubing is cut to length as per the mechanical drawing, the 1/4″ thick feet and 10ga steel floor are cut on the CNC plasma table.

tube cutting

C-clamps and scrap 3/8″ steel plates from the CNC table make great guides.  They are used to align the lid to the top of the crate before the hinges are tacked and welded in place.

welding alignment

Weld on hinges with built in grease zerks may be overkill for a lid, but our customers expect the best and we make sure they get it.

weld on hinge saskatoon

Loaded and ready to deliver to the customer!

steel crate designsteel crate saskatoonsteel crate

Thanks for looking!  If you’re interested in following the Mint Design blog, click on the bottom right of your browser on the follow button!  We’ve got quite a few more projects that have already been completed or are nearly finished to be posted in the next while.  Posting items to the blog have been a bit slow due to us moving!  The move has allowed for more room in terms of mechanical and electrical project design, but the fab. shop will stay put for now, but there are future plans in place!

July 10, 2014

TIG Welding and Powder Coating

Lots of parts passing through the Mint Design shop in the last few weeks.  Lots of TIG welding and powder coating, and even showing off The Can Carabiner at a trade show!  We sold quite a few and had a lot of interest in it.  There were also a few “What the heck is that?” and after explaining it we got a lot of, “Whoa that is awesome!”.  After some field testing and feedback from our customers we’ve got some very minor tweaks in store for future units and the presentation down the road.

The Can Carabiner

Now back into the shop!  We have a custom 1/8″ 5052-H32 radiator shroud for a custom 2JZ Toyota truck project.  The fabricator/client provided the dimensions and the requirement for the “Teq” and “Supra” logo to be engraved into the metalwork.  It was easy enough to do and model in Solidworks and then create the flat pattern.  The CNC cut part was provided to the customer to form, weld and finish.  Note: you can even see the 1/2″ tick marks to indicate the bend line location.

Supra Radiator ShroudTEQ radiator shroud

Here we have a house sign being fabricated out of some 1/8″ 304 stainless steel sheet.  The customer chose the custom font and determined the overall size.  First the part is cut out on the CNC table, then the backside was lightly brushed and the corner areas were prepped for welding the 5″ stainless steel rods.  The rods will be slid into the wall and secured with construction adhesive, ultimately allowing the sign to float from the wall 1-2″.  Clamping here may seem overkill, but the more work spent now means less work sanding the front.  Reason being is that stainless steel warps very easily and with having a perfectly brushed front surface, any uncontrolled warpage from the backside will make that much more work sanding the front.  The polyimide tape is heat resistant tape and also protects the backside from unnecessary scratches.

TIG weld house sign

Here’s the front side, the HAZ (heat affected zone) is very minor and will brush out quite easily.  The stainless is wiped with isopropyl alcohol to avoid any oils or contaminants to come into contact with the sanding belt.  The belt also never touches or sits on anything, unless it’s clean stainless.  No need to grind in contamination which will only show up over time when the sign is exposed to the elements.  Also by “coincidence” the dowels have the perfect spacing that it can drop into the fixturing holes of the table.  Which makes sanding that much easier as no clamping is needed and there is 100% access to the entire top surface of the part.

Stainless Steel house sign

And this is what it looks like when it’s done.  No signs of welded dowels and they are spaced wide enough to make the sign sturdy, but also narrow enough that they’ll be fairly hidden when the sign is floating a few inches from the wall.

brushed stainless house sign mint design saskatoon

These projects make me sad, however I do get joy and satisfaction when it’s done and I can see how happy it makes people feel.  This was CNC engraved, plasma cut out of 1/4″ 304 SS plate and the use of some 1/2″ stainless steel rod.  The rod is TIG welded and allows the cross to be buried in the ground and secured in place with concrete and lightly covered with dirt.  It is not blank after “Baby” and “October”, it blurred out for privacy.

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Powder coating…where do we begin!  Did some really cool script font lawn ornament in 10ga steel which was powder coated in Desert Charcoal (same as The Can Carabiner).

TIG welding and powder coating

Then we got these 7M-GTE parts in needing to be degreased, blasted, baked, blasted and then powder coated.  There is quite a bit of prep work required as anything that is cast and has been around oil just requires that much more work to ensure a quality finish.  Powder coating is the easy part, it’s all the work prior that takes the time.

7M-GTE powder coat

Once again our favorite tape around the shop.  Polyimide tape, heat resistant and leaves no residue.  Super useful as we use for everything from powder coating to welding.  And it kind of makes everything look like it’s meant for NASA.  These parts are all masked, trimmed, plugged and ready to go.

Supra powder coat

Notice the pin holes in the masking, this prevents plugs from popping out in the oven and just allows the part to “breathe”.  This intake manifold is ready for the powder to be applied.

intake manifold powder coat

All the finished parts.  The wrinkle black and desert wrinkle white turned out awesome!

Supra engine powder coat wrinkle black powder coatwrinkle white powder coat Supra coolant fittings powder coat

Coming soon…Cadillac 304SS exhaust system, our Arduino project powered by Newark Electronics, some custom steel crates and much much more!  If you like what you see please subscribe to our mailing list and you will be able to get up to the date content in your mailbox, just click on the “Follow” tab at the bottom right of your browser.  If you are interested in any of our services please take a minute to browse our site and contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss a future project.

June 17, 2014

The Can Carabiner

Clients sometimes bring us interesting projects to work on, or we come up with interesting ideas as well.  The Can Carabiner idea came about the need for cooling canned beverages while fishing or near a beach.  It won’t bring your drink to ice cold temperatures, but at least it’ll cool it down enough it will be cooler than the ambient air temperature.  After a few evenings of modeling in SolidWorks, a few prototypes later we have a final design.  A can retainment system that also has an integrated bottle opener, utility saw and a loop section to allow for wrapping of some paracord (which would be attached to the carabiner).  This allows up to six cans to be secured and attached to a paracord rope which can then be tied off while you’re fishing or swimming.

The Can Carabiner Can Carabiner Mint Design Mint Design Can Carabiner

We have done everything from the mechanical design, CNC cutting, pickling, bead blasting and packaging in house.  Also even production of the tooling to form offset bends in the metalwork.  All 100% designed in Solidworks prior to any steel being cut or welded.  Admittedly this tooling would be easier to produce if it was CNC machined as opposed to plasma cut and then having the plates laminated together by welding, however that would take away our ability to do everything in house.  Also the dies use regular 44W steel, which will wear over time, replacements can be easily cut out and re-tacked into place.  Or we can source some tool steel to cut and weld in place, which will offer a longer life.  This versatility allows us to make changes quick if something were to arise.

Press plate tooling

Mint Design Fabrication Mint Design Saskatoon

Here’s one of our small production runs.  Tightly nested, 100% cut in house with our CNC plasma table.

CNC cutting Saskatoon

These parts have very minimal dross, but it can be easily removed via the pickling process.  During this process the mill scale is removed as well.  This happens prior to blasting which speeds up the blasting process dramatically, and allows for a clean textured surface for the powder to bond to.  In the future we will be automating the surface prep process after pickling.  This will reduce labor costs and ultimately improve throughput.

plasma cutting WIP

Here are the three colors available.  We also sell the bottle cap opener fish as well.

beer can holder

There has been a huge amount of interest in this product, to the point we’ve been doing small batch runs and taking in customer feedback.  This feedback and initial small scale production runs will allow us to achieve our even bigger plans in the fall!  This product is open to wholesale clients, so please inquire if you’re interested in carrying this product in your store(s).  We don’t have an online store yet, but if you’re interested these are going to be selling for an introductory price of $45 CAD so send us an email through our Contact page if you would like to purchase one.  Shipping is generally $15-30 depending if you live in Canada or the US as well as how many you plan on ordering.

May 30, 2014

CNC cut race tracks out of steel

This CNC cut race tracks project started as a simple request from a picture posted on a local car forum.  After converting the tracks into vector format and entering in all the track names a group buy began.  These are cut out of 14ga cold rolled steel.  Normally hot rolled is used in our shop, but in this case the final part will have a sanded finish and having to remove mill scale from hot rolled is a time consuming process on a large part like this.  Small parts aren’t a problem when they can be stripped in an acid bath.

Here is the CNC cut race tracks as modeled in SolidWorks , just the plasma cutting portion.

CNC cut race track

Then the names were added next to their respective tracks.  All the text will be engraved prior to plasma cutting.

Race Track plasma cutting

Here’s some of the engraving going on, the fish are actually bottle cap openers that are nested into the voids of the sheet.  Some are even nested in the Nürburgring and in the Circuit De La Sarthe.  Every square inch of material is utilized when cutting.  The scuffed up metal below the rectangle is just an area for test engraving and seeing how the sanded finish would look with the engraving.  The anvil and 1/2″ thick steel plates are used to keep the plate solid during engraving.  We’ve never had issue with a sheet of this size moving from vibration.  However with around 1/2hr of engraving time it’d be foolish not to be overly cautious.

CNC cutting 14ga steel

Here’s all the parts fresh off the table.  The race track and Möbius Threads sign will have a sanded/brushed finish and the fish will be going in for an acid bath to strip any oils and to easily remove any dross.  The fish will be used as powder coat sample tiles.  For every new powder we apply a few of these fish will be coated so we can allow customers in the future to choose a finished powder by seeing an actual sample.  We have these bottle cap openers for sale.  They will be limited run colors and there will be a lot of variations!  This is the first batch of four to come out of one steel sheet.

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Here it is the track after the sanding process and sealed with boiled linseed oil.

race track map steel race track boiled linseed oil

And a whole bunch of fish ready for a final bath in the acid before they are ready for powder coating!

mint design saskatoon

Keep posted for some busy blog posts coming up!  Custom electronics, sheet metal fabrication, TIG welding, polishing, powder coating and more!  Be sure to follow Mint Design by clicking the “follow” at the bottom right of your browser!

May 22, 2014

Welding table top, new projects and equipment

Well it’s been a very busy couple weeks in the shop as we’ve just been busy preparing for a lot of future projects and just finishing up a few.  We also have some new equipment being brought in and a really interesting  project based on Arduino Uno from Newark Electronics coming up too.  Here’s some of the things being worked on and a few previews of what’s coming down the pipe.

The majority of the welding done at Mint is done via TIG welding process.  However we have had an increasing amount of work in the industrial sector which doesn’t require the costly TIG welding process, so we managed to pick up a MIG to speed up fabrication work.  We try to buy equipment that gives us the best value and in this case it was a very lightly used Millermatic 251, it can do up to 1/2″ thick steel in a single pass and also work with a spool gun for mass production aluminum work.  We don’t have any need for a spool gun just yet, but it’s always nice to have the option to easily add it on.  The voltage output is not stepped so it can be infinitely adjusted and recorded if doing the same type of work over and over again.  The wire feed value can also be recorded to if doing the similar type of welding, or at least the settings will get us in the ballpark quicker.  This is replacing a 110v Lincoln welder, which worked great for thin sheet metal, but anything beyond that it just couldn’t cut it.  Keep posted for some future projects relying heavily on this Miller welder.

Millermatic 251

Here we’ve designed and cut out a 3/8″ 44w hot rolled steel welding table that measured 32″x46″ and weighs 150lbs.  This is produced for a local fabricator who will be building the frame to go under this top.  The one unique feature is the engraved ruler around two sides of the table.  That way if you ever misplace a tape measure and need to get a rough 1/4″ measurement you can easily do so at the edge of the table.  The table also has slots to allow for use of clamps or other fixtures while welding.  Every project is very customer specific, even down to the custom chosen font.  It might not seem like much, but when you’re getting something custom from Mint Design, it’s done exactly how you want, right down to the font.

Welding Table Top SolidWorks CNC Plasma welding table topwelding table top

This is one project that has been kept mostly under wraps for the last month and a half, it’s still a work in progress but this is the only preview we can provide.  It’s a prototype, and yes it doesn’t show much.  The production unit is been redesigned to be easier to manufacture and will be offered in three different powder coated colors.  They’ll be ready before Fathers Day so keep posted!

silver vein powder coat

A few of the other projects on the go are a custom CNC cut 1/4″ stainless steel handle on a samurai sword, some CNC cut race tracks out of 14ga steel, lots of powder coating and a fully polished 304 SS show car Cadillac exhaust system.  Also an Arduino Uno (supplied from Newark Electronics) electronic/mechanical project that will be developed in the shop.

Also since getting back from Costa Rica mid-March I have been editing our trip video when I am not busy with my family or in the shop.  It’s finally completed, so grab a seat and please enjoy our Costa Rica trip video until the next blog post!

February 26, 2014

Testing the new Brake

We’ve been busy working on a few various projects and we’ve finally had time to do some testing the new brake.  Here’s a project we just worked on and recently completed, this blog post describes the process that it took to build it.  The part was designed in Solidworks and then a flat pattern was created and then cut on the CNC table.

Mobius Threads Sign

Mint Design Saskatoon

The engraved marks indicate the bend line locations.  And the two barely noticeable centermarked locations are for two #4-40 countersunk screws to pass through to allow for an Arduino to be mounted inside.  The holes allow for 12v power and USB access for programming.

CNC cutting Saskatoon

The box is not a typical 90 degree box, it is tapered from the front to back so when it sits on the base it will tilt the sign slightly back.  So the first four bends are bent to 100.6°.

Baileigh Brake

Removing some teeth in the brake to allow for the secondary bends.

Testing the new Brake

These next four bends will be formed to 79.4°. which will close up the box.

Mint Design Saskatoon

Here it is finished forming.  You can see the four #4 holes for mounting the Arduino Uno.

Backlit light box

Next the box goes through an acid bath to remove the mill scale and then bead blasting to give it a nice finish to work with during testing.  Also the front panel is cut out of 16ga steel sheet.  Here you can see the Arduino mounted with a prototype shield installed.  This allows for quick wiring and testing of code.  In this photo the LED strip is a 12v white LED, however the final version will most likely have a RGB LED strip.  This is an overkill application for the use of an Arduino, however the cost of the electronics is a very small percentage of the project.

Arduino Uno Mint Design

Here is the preliminary testing to get an idea of how bright things will look and allowing some experimentation with the code.

Arduino Uno LED

Before final assembly the front panel is drilled in all the center marked location (center marking was done by the CNC table prior to any plasma cutting).  The corners of the box are TIG welded and ground down smooth.  Then the box is then powder coated with wrinkle black powder.  Here’s my daughter making sure all the rivets are accounted for prior to final assembly.

Mint Design Assembly 

All the pieces ready for assembly (sans Arduino Uno).

Mobius Threads

Here the Arduino Uno installed, wired and ready to go.  The Type B USB port is left open to allow for reprogramming of the Arduino, to the right of it is the power entry port.  That allows an AC-to-DC adapter (wall-wart) 12v power supply to run the Arduino as well as power the LED’s.

Powdercoat Saskatoon

Powder coat Saskatoon

This is just a prototype light box, once the design is solidified dozens of these will be made and sent out to retail shops carrying Möbius Threads line of scarves, headbands and breast feeding covers.

December 19, 2013

Game of Thrones and powder coating

We’ve been busy working on a few NDA projects and lots of Christmas gifts.  So the blog hasn’t been updated in a while.  However we had a few neat projects come through.  Here is a Game of Thrones snowflake that we cut out for a client.

First we got the .jpeg images from here.  Then they were converted to vector format and then CNC cut out of 14ga steel, acid dipped, bead blasted and then powder coated.  Here’s some of the shots of the process.

LannisterIMG_1584 IMG_1585   IMG_1597 IMG_1598 IMG_1599  IMG_1601 

A few other items that were cut and powder coated at the same time.

IMG_1596IMG_1600   IMG_1575IMG_1580IMG_1574IMG_1583

Speaking of TV shows, we’ve got a pretty cool Breaking Bad Heisenberg that will be CNC cut, TIG welded and powder coated in the new year.  Follow us to keep up to date!

Heisenberg _ Breaking Bad

November 15, 2013

Powder coating booth

We’ve so busy in the shop lately we’ve managed to slip our new powder coating booth in the queue.  We modeled it in SolidWorks to ensure it will be the right size for our use, as well as maximize the use of all the material purchased.  It will allow us to powder coat multiple parts while being hung from the copper grounding bar.  The hangers will have swivels so it will allow the part to rotate in place as well.

Here is the 3D model before we cut any wood.  We haven’t modeled a vent hood for the filter just yet.  That will be the next part of this project.

powder coating booth

And here is the booth assembled on the workbench and almost ready to go.

do it yourself powder coating booth

We typically work with thousanths of an inch or tenths of a millimeter, so working  with wood which is not dimensionally accurate at all is a test of our patience.  However this booth came together pretty easily and really at a minimal cost.  The vent will most likely be something cut off the CNC table and welded up.  It will be nice once it’s done and this booth will get a lot of use in the shop.

Take a look at our powder coating services page for more info on what we can do for you!

October 22, 2013

Wellhead casing project

We always have new and interesting projects come through the shop.  This one was a wellhead casing project which consisted of a few tasks:

All these steps were done in house to reduce lead time and improve quality control.


The design of this project was based loosely around the existing prototype developed.  The prototype was quickly reverse engineered in order to have a 3D model to compare our new design against.  This will allow us to compare the range of motion and limitations of the prototype vs the new proposed design.  There was also a list of requirements that the new design had to achieve that the existing one couldn’t do or perform, one example is the lack of a guard on the sheave/pulley.

Here is the prototype, ready to be reverse engineered.

wellhead casing

Here it is modeled up and mocked up on a small wellhead.  The hardware was not modeled as they wouldn’t add any value to the new design.

wellhead casing saskatoon

Now we began our design process taking the reverse engineered prototype into account.  Here is the preliminary design compared to the prototype.  The new design took requirements from the client as well as added a few other features to compact the design as well as make handling and setup easier.  The handles on either side make carrying the unit easier as well as adjusting the position of the sheave.  The handle is also located very near to the COG (center of gravity) of the part so it makes it very easy to carry.  Here you can see the prototype and the new proposed design overlaid on top of each other.

solidworks saskatoon

Since the functionality of the new design is different in a few ways than the prototype, it is submit for a design review and no modifications were needed.  The 3D model is then set it up for FEA (finite element analysis).  The initial design is to show the concept of how it will work, now with taking loads into account we can factor in how it will actually perform and meet all the requirements of the client.

Here you can see a stress concentration on the arms, this was the final design, prior to this the concentration was higher around the radius as it was tighter.  Just a simple tweak in the design and we minimized this stress to an acceptable level without any real added weight.

fea saskatoon

The design could have been optimized further by reducing the material thickness of members under low stress, however the design also considers the cost of fabrication.  The minor cost increase and weight to a part being thicker than necessary outweighs the cost of having to load multiple sheets of various thickness material onto the CNC table to be cut.  In this case everything was designed to be cut out of 1/4″ plate except for the top of the guard which would be done out of 10ga steel (1/4″ would have made it far too heavy and cumbersome).  Here is the final design mocked up.

mint design solidworks

Now that the design achieves the clients requirements and has been approved, the project proceeds to the fabrication phase.


Once the design was completed all the parts were exported to our CAM software, nested and cut out of 1/4″ 44w steel plate.  Hardware was brought in based on the hardware selected in the design.

CNC Cutting Mint Design

Next the pieces were acid dipped to remove the mill scale to prepare it for welding and eventually powder coating.  The TIG welding process does not cooperate well with burning through mill scale and it takes a tremendous amount of time to media blast mill scale off.  Our in house acid bath works quick and takes little effort.  The parts are susceptible to some light oxidization due to the steel being stripped bare, no protective coating is applied since it would have to be removed prior to welding and the part is going to be blasted prior to powder coating anyways.

acid bath Mint Design

Here the parts are being welded and tacked up.

TIG weld Mint Design

These plates were sandwiched together and a groove was CNC cut in two locations, these locations were TIG welded to secure these pieces all together.

TIG weld Saskatoon

TIG weld wellhead

All the parts are 100% welded up, blasted and ready for powder coating.

wellhead casing project

These parts were powder coated with RAL 3016 Coral Red.  Here is one of the arms ready to be cured in the oven.

powder coat Mint Design


And here they are out of the oven, assembled and ready to be used.

powder coat Saskatoon

wellhead casing pulley wellhead casing

This project started with a physical prototype and ended up with a commercial functioning/looking product.  This project combined mechanical design, CNC cutting/engraving, TIG welding and our latest powder coating service.  Everything with this project was done in house to reduce lead times and achieve the highest quality product for our client.

October 3, 2013

Powder coating and building mounts

We’ve been busy working on a variety of projects, some powder coating and building mounts for a 50″ light bar on a Dodge truck.  Nothing too sophisticated with this project, just took some time and some careful measurements to ensure that everything lined up and time wasn’t wasted.  We only had a few hours to knock this project out so there wasn’t really time for progress photos.

Here you can see the cardboard template on the left.  The template is strictly to dictate the CNC cutting shape and bend locations.  The template took 60-70% of the time to produce as the metal versions are exact replicas of it, so it had to be accurate.  Once the cardboard template is acceptable it is redrawn in CAD and the new pieces are cut out of steel, the bend locations are slit 95% of the way.  This makes manipulation of the steel easier in order to get the correct bend angles.  Once the bend angles are determined from the temporary steel brackets, the final units are cut and formed to match the temporary steel brackets without the slit bend lines for maximum strength.

Dodge light brackets

The customer had the parts painted and installed.  Here is the final product installed (thanks to the customer supplied photos).

Dodge roof light barDodge roof light bar

Another project we’re preparing for requires a fair bit of powdercoating, so before we shoot any production parts we did a bit of testing.  Here is the first part we’ve powdered.  It’s shot with a wrinkle red, super common for use on valve covers etc…  We also have wrinkle black in stock as well.  We just shot a simple part to begin with (it’s one of our custom box re-sizing tools, a variation of this one can be seen prior to powder on our Mannequin blog post).

Mint Design Powder coat wrinkle red

We’re preparing powder coating for this project working it’s way down the line.  More to come…

CNC cutting

September 4, 2013

Stainless Steel Urn

These are not projects we want to work on, it’s something we have to work on.  Here’s a stainless steel urn produced in the shop for my father-in-law, Larry Mortenson.  This urn was designed in SolidWorks, converted to a flat pattern and all pieces exported as .dxf’s for the CNC table.  It is made out of 14ga 304 stainless steel, the perimeter is one piece that is slit with the plasma cutter along the bend lines, which is subsequently TIG welded closed.  The top is a separate piece that is TIG welded on, the bottom is a separate piece that is attached with three #4-40 screws.  Prior to any cutting the part was engraved on the CNC table.  Warpage was a big concern so the use of a damp cloth was used to help dissipate heat without imparting any heavy scratches on the urn prior to final brushing.  All the welds were ground down and the entire part is finished with a fine scotch brite pad and cleaned with a stainless steel cleaner.

stainless steel urn

Here’s the urn after welding. The top has the welds blended in.

Here is the urn ready for the funeral and to protect Larry’s ashes at his final resting spot.  One personal touch is that all Larry’s immediate family’s signatures are engraved on one of the three sides.  The signatures were scanned, converted to vector format and engraved.

IMG_0926_2Stainless Steel UrnMetal urn

Rest in peace Larry.

August 27, 2013

Custom built roof rack

We’re building almost anything and everything.  This time we’re working on a custom built roof rack.  We had completed the design work for this roof rack a few weeks ago, it was a collaborative project with the customer as he had quite a few requirements.  Once all the requirements were listed a 3D model and subsequent drawing was created, the drawing was reviewed and the build process began.  The advantage of designing it is that we could figure out the actual mass, in this case 47.55lbs (not factoring in the weight of welding filler).  The rack uses a Ø1-1/4″ perimeter hoop and seven Ø1″ horizontal crossbars.   Here’s the 3D rendering of the roof rack.  The tab at the rear is for an LED powered flood light, the two tabs at the front are for a LED light bar.


All the plate pieces were cut on the CNC table and prepped for welding to the rack.

Mint Design

Here are the pieces laid out on the shop floor prior to tacking and welding the main hoop and the coped Ø1″ tubes.  Also notice all tube ends/mating faces are sanded prior to TIG welding, this ensures a high quality structurally sound weld.  All joints were wiped down with alcohol prior to welding as well.

custom roof rack

There are a lot of things we can do at Mint Design, some of which we don’t advertise until we have a few projects go through using the new piece of equipment or technique.  In this case it’s tube and pipe bending.  We will be adding this to our list of services in the near future.

Here are the CNC cut mounting plates TIG welded from the underside of the rack.  The nice thing about designing with CAD is that everything just “fits”.  There is no slop and everything lines up.  The time spent on the computer saves us more time in the shop so in most cases it’s saving the customer money if it’s designed properly from the get go.  In this case the use of Ø1″ crossbar tubes along with the Ø1-1/4″ perimeter tube is that the 11ga steel plates fit up nearly flush with the outside tube once welded to the Ø1″ crossbars.

TIG weld CNC cut

100% TIG welded at all the connections.

TIG weld tubing

One thing to note, to speed up fabrication as well as improve accuracy and consistency we CNC cut a pair of tubing spacing jigs.  This allows us to make sure the rungs are evenly spaced from front to back and from side to side.  This eliminates any guesswork and makes fabrication work that much easier.  Here’s  a shot of the super simple jigs.


And here is a picture of the finished rack installed.  The light bar on the front wasn’t snugged down yet…  The customer is going to have the rack powdercoated.  One neat feature about the rack is that it can accept a double set of gutter mounts to distribute any extreme loads evenly across the gutter rail.


July 26, 2013

Behind the fabrication

We may give off the impression that that almost all we do is fabrication.  Which is not entirely true, which is why we would like to see what goes on behind the fabrication.  Here’s some of the last things we’ve gone through on the CNC table.  Lots of 1/2″ and 3/8″ lifting rings and turbo flanges.


3/8″ 44W steel


With jobs like that there is very little design work required, just nesting and setting up tool paths to cut them out as efficiently as at the highest quality possible with our table.  We do a lot of mechanical design that is either “behind the scenes” once the part is fabricated, like this roof rack we will soon be building for a client.


Everything is designed to ensure that it will be easy to fabricate and the CAD files are used to produce the flanges that will be welded onto the tubing.  It also allows us to determine the correct amount of material and reduce any amount of waste due to errors during the fabrication process.  It’s much easier to update a CAD model than it is to re-cut and re-weld pieces.  All of which waste time and money.  Here’s the flanges cut awaiting the tubing to formed, cut and welded.

2013-07-20 13.41.51

We also have many projects that are designed and sold strictly as a design, it is then left up to the customer to use those drawings and models to create what was designed.  Some of these designs have NDA’s signed or have potential for a patent application so we cannot post any of these, however here are some other examples of what we’ve designed.

Humminbird console mount behind the fabrication

Fish finder console for a 14′ aluminum boat.

Aluminum boat console

Paramotor design

Mint Design branded paramotor – think paragliding with a motor.

Skateboard Bench

Skateboard picnic bench for kids.

mannequin renderings

Mannequin renderings for scale purposes prior to slicing and CNC cutting.

welding table acorn

Shop welding table with loops for holding TIG welding filler tubes or clamps.

Rav4 hitch

Low profile Rav4 hitch.

intake manifold CFD

CFD showing how poorly a flat ended intake manifold flows to the final runner.

Drilling rig platform in transport position Drilling rig platform Stairs FEA Exo-skeleton FEA Drilling rig platform

These are only some of the dozens and dozens of parts we have designed.  Please take a look through our gallery for more images of what we’ve designed.

June 3, 2013

Exhaust repair and custom tool

In among working with mannequins we had a chance to do an exhaust repair and have a custom tool built.  The exhaust repair was pretty straight forward, it was a crack that propagated around the merge of a stainless steel system.  The quick and simple way would be to run a bead over it…however the chances of it cracking are still there since the quality of the original weld is under question hidden under a nice TIG weld.  Not good.  So instead we grind the weld out all the way around, then run two passes around the collector with some filler material to make it strong.

The crack was more apparent on the other side of this part.

stainless steel exhaust crack repair

Once the weld is ground out the surface around the weld has to be cleaned and prepped prior to welding.  After that process the inside of the tubing has to be back purged with argo and then it’s ready to weld.  Here it is all welded up and ready to go.

stainless steel crack repaired


Here’s the custom tool that we made for another customer.  Two 304 SS plates with a bolt and pipe passing through them.  The bolt and pipe are welded to the smaller diameter plate, this allows the larger plate to be torqued down and expand the rubber gasket to seal the assembly in the pipe.  The pipe is then connected to a manometer or similar pressure gauge to monitor pressure in a piping system.  Perpendicularity of the bolt and pipe are important, otherwise binding would occur when torquing or disassembling the part.

pipe pressure tool

May 30, 2013

CNC Mannequin Production

Well we’ve been busy in the shop with a variety of projects.  Here we’re entering into a small CNC mannequin production run for a luxury fashion designer, Nosakhare Osadolor, based out of London, UK.  The website for Nosakhari is http://www.nosakhari.com.

We adopt a lean manufacturing process where we try to carry as minimal inventory as possible, so once the job was put in place the material was put on order and picked up on a rainy day.  It was all unloaded into the shop, the sheets were then cut in half to have it loaded onto our CNC table) and the CNC cutting could begin.

Mint Design CNC steel

This is one of five sheets that were CNC cut out of 44W mild steel to form the body of each mannequin.  With this order we are producing two mannequins, one male (first time we’ve made one) and one female.  The female weighs in at 47.8lbs and the male comes in at 70.8lbs, they aren’t lightweights!

We just recently got a set of laser crosshairs for our CNC table.  This allows us to easily square up material and to reduce waste, which will ultimately save our customers money and be more productive!  here it’s cutting the vertical body section of a female mannequin.

CNC laser cross hair

This job required five sheets of material to complete the two mannequins.

CNC fashion mannnequin

Once the pieces are cut up they are marked, removed from the table, dross is removed then they are ready for test fitting.  These are all the pieces required to make one male mannequin.


These mannequins could be used for modeling everything from scarves to jewelry to welding helmets or PPE gear.  Right now they are being test fitted to ensure that everything fits and there will be no issues when they are reassembled by our client in London.  Due to the high cost of shipping, these mannequins will be disassembled and flat-packed to be re-setup by the client just in time for a fashion exhibition in the following week.  Here are some finished photos.

Iron Man with his two Iron Maiden’s?  You bet!

Iron Man Iron Maiden

Mannequin gas mask

male mannequin

steel male mannequin unique

mannequin army

mannequin mint design

male female mannequin

Making custom boxes isn’t the most enjoyable task, however things go by quicker when you have custom built shop tools to create perforated folds.

custom box perforation tool

All packed and ready to go!  They are just waiting for the FedEx driver to arrive.

flat packed mannequin


Click here to see our customer update!

May 1, 2013

CNC Cutting Aluminum

We been quite busy in the shop and we just haven’t had time to take much photos.  The only time we pulled the SLR into the shop was to snap some photos of CNC cutting aluminum (some 0.080″) for a few customers.

These are destined to be bookends that will have some Subaru STI (EJ257) pistons welded onto them.  They were pulled from an engine that had ring land failure, one thing we noticed while cleaning up the pistons in the ultrasonic bath is that the piston that failed pitted quite easily and the other that didn’t fail cleaned up just fine.  Maybe a casting defect or lesser grade aluminum?  Either way they’ll be on display as a conversational book ends.  Here’s the plate marker engraving and plasma cutter cutting out the pieces.

CNC engraving aluminum CNC cutting aluminum

After some surface treatment work and a bit of welding here’s the finished Subaru piston book ends.

Subaru piston broken ring land Subaru book ends

Here is the case for a portable “boombox” that has some pretty cool features.  We didn’t do the design work, just took the customers design, redrew it in SolidWorks to allow us to create an accurate flat pattern so it’d assemble how the customer envisioned it.  The design wasn’t 100% set in stone so there were some added holes and some slight tweaks after the parts were cut.  Here is the rendering of the metalwork:

Electronic pi case

And here’s the cutting process on our Torchmate CNC plasma table using the Hypertherm plasma cutter:

Hypertherm cutting aluminum CNC cutting aluminum CNC cutting