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 19, 2013

Powder Coat and Astro Boy

In the shop we’re setting up for a powder coating station, working on a few design projects and doing some fabrication work.  Here was a super simple job, 1/4″ 6061-T6 plate CNC cut and TIG welded to a 6061-T6 square tube.  It’ll be used as a hitch cover for a very avid Astro Boy fan.  We prep every welded joint as if it’s safety related, this ensures that we produce high quality (strength) and that also look good.  In this case the weld is purely cosmetic and most likely won’t be seen once installed.  In any case our clients expect the best and we provide the best no matter how simple the job may be.

Powdercoat and Astro Boy

Astro boy

Sans pin hole, lightly sanded and slightly dusty.

The hitch cover will be media blasted and then sent out to be powdercoated a vibrant York Red by Sean at Jamison Automotive Services.  This will buy us some time to set up our power coating booth and allow us to learn the controls and have a bit of practice.  We only learn new processes with projects around the shop, we don’t gamble or experiment with customer’s products.  We have a design project that will be done in the next few weeks that will be built 100% in house, CNC cut from 1/4″ steel plate, TIG welded, powdercoated, assembled and ultimately delivered to the customer.  Bringing the powder coating process in house is just one more step to becoming a one stop shop, from working on a design concept all the way to producing a high quality final product.

Powdercoat Saskatoon

We carry various color swatches to help with choosing a color that we may not have in stock.

Mint Design Powdercoat

Some of the equipment to get started. A variety of powder, powdercoating equipment, color swatches and silicone plugs (keeps powder from plugging threaded/straight through holes).

We are starting with a variety of vein powder coats, super durable outdoor rated powder as well as super common wrinkle red and wrinkle black.  We have the ability to bring in any powder needed based off our in house color swatches or from our supplier’s website.  Keep posted for the many powder coated parts leaving our shop in the near future.

September 16, 2013

Aluminum chimney support

Sometimes we’re too busy to take photos while building custom designed products for our clients, in this case we’ve got photos from the client once they’ve put it in use.  In this case it’s an aluminum chimney support we built with some 2″x2″ 6061-T6 aluminum tubing with some 1/4″ 6061-T6 aluminum plates TIG welded on.  We also produced some triangular brackets that were all CNC cut on our plasma table out of 14ga steel and formed in house.  Here are some photos of the installed product.

aluminum chimney support

This is the base of the support bolted to the house. The tube furthest from the house extends approximately 12′ above the roof line to support the chimney.  There are also ladder rungs to be attached by the client to allow for any potential servicing.


chimney brackets

And here it is installed.

All the tubing was cut to length on the bandsaw, clamped to the welding table and TIG welded.

September 10, 2013

Powder Coating and Tube Bending

While working in the shop we are constantly listening to our clients and always making moves to fill the niches that they look for.  There are processes and fabrication techniques that we do that we don’t readily advertise, but it’s usually because we haven’t mastered it yet or don’t have all the necessary tooling in place to be as efficient/cost effective as we should be.   So after a few successful projects we will then officially offer the service on the site.  In this case we are now ready to offer tube/pipe bending and in a few weeks powder coating services.

The tube/pipe bending has a slight learning curve so we wanted to ensure that what we design in CAD could be accurately produced, this took a bit of time and the quality showed on the roof rack project.  On that particular project the tolerances from bend-to-bend is within ±0.063″ and from bend-to-edge is within ±0.015″.  These types of tolerances are tighter than most so this is the reason why

One service we have not had the chance to work with is powder coating.  However due to the demand for this from our industrial and automotive clients we have decided to bring this service in house.  This will reduces the ultimate cost to the customer as well as lead time.  In the coming weeks we plan on setting up and carrying a variety of durable UV stable high salt spray resistance powder, different color wrinkle powder and vein powder along with a variety of RAL colors.

Keep tabs on the Mint Design blog for more photos of future projects that will be powdercoated in house or tubing structures being formed.  In the meantime take a look at our two new service pages; Powder Coating and Tube and Pipe Bending.

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.


August 16, 2013

CNC Cut Skateboard

It’s always fun doing artsy projects that force us to be creative.  This is a CNC cut skateboard coat rack that was modeled, CNC cut, fabricated and painted in one day.  It’s constructed from 14ga 44W steel with TIG welded hangers on the back.  This pushes the deck 1/2″ away from the wall and gives it a 3D look.  The long horizontal slots were intentional because the TIG welding process will cause warpage these slots allow for this warpage to be dramatic.  This pushes out the text further than the area above and below the top and bottom slots, this giving a greater 3D look.  Also after the part was cut we forgot to form the tails on the 3D model, so we formed them after the part was cut.  Here’s the rendering before we began cutting any steel.


We didn’t get any photos during the cutting and forming process since this was something that had to be done quickly.  However here it is prior to paint.

CNC skateboard

The coat rack is based based off a few measurements from this old deck.


Since the mounting bracket is viewable from the front, they were necked down along the slots so when viewed from the other side they look like the axles from the trucks.  The bolt pattern through the deck and mounting bracket are the same as an actual skateboard so in theory you could bolt up a set of trucks to it.

CNC Cut SkateboardSteel skateboard

We used a rocker guard paint to finish it off as it’s textured to look like grip tape as well as being really really durable.

Metal Skateboard


Follow the links to our CNC cutting and welding capability.  Thanks for looking!

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.

July 22, 2013

Ford Ranger Exhaust System

We had the pleasure of building a Ford Ranger exhaust system a little while ago.  The system was all constructed from 304 stainless steel, TIG welded, backpurged and using existing holes on the frame for hanger mounts.  This truck has been stripped down to the bare frame and built up with care, so this truck is as clean if not cleaner than some new vehicles we’ve worked on.  The passenger side exhaust was very straightforward, but the driver’s side had an interesting header that dumped to the ground ahead of the transmission.  So with the driver’s side we had to use some mandrel bends to redirect the exhaust flow around the transmission and over the sub-frame.

Here’s the Ford Ranger up on the hoist ready for the exhaust system to be built.

Ford Ranger Exhaust System

Here’s the system tacked up and ready for polishing.

Adflo SS welding TIG weld stainless exhaust Vibrant TIG weld Fire Exit Exhaust

Once all the tubes are tacked, then the tube polishing begins.  This takes the raw 304 SS tubing and brings it to a #4 Architectural Finish, see more info here on our polishing page.  Tube polishing can be done before or after welding, however most customers like the look/coloring of welds on stainless steel so we typically polish prior to welding.  After polishing the tubing must be handled very carefully, wrapped, cannot sit on anything steel (due to embedding foreign material that could rust) or anything hard that could scratch the surface.  Here you can see the polished on the left and raw material on the right.

Tube Polishing

And here is the polishing completed.

Stainless Steel polished tube Polished turn downs Stainless Steel tacked exhaust

Now both tubes are tacked and polished it is time to tape all the joints and get it ready for backpurging and TIG welding.  Backpurging is when the inside of the tube is filled with an inert gas, in this case Argon, this protects the backside of the weld from contamination commonly known as “sugaring”.  Sugaring is an oxidized area of Chromium that combines with oxygen to form a hard thick porous oxide layer.  This oxide layer depletes the Chromium content in the stainless steel near the weld and if enough is depleted the corrosion protection can be compromised.  The oxide layer is porous so it leaves the inside of the weld open to corrosion and can disrupt exhaust flow.  This is why backpurging is important, especially on a high quality exhaust system.  Here is some prep shots prior to welding.

Kapton tape exhaust stainless steel kapton tapepolyimide tape exhaust polyimide kapton tape   Race truck stainless exhaust

Here’s the exhaust system all welded up (sans hangers).

stainless steel tubing architectural finish  stainless steel tig welding saskatoon tig welding Saskatoon stainlessstainless steel exhaust

Now to install it on the truck.  Here’s the tight hoop between the transmission and sub-frame.

mandrel bend TIG weld Ford Ranger stainless steel exhaust

Ford Ranger underside stainless steel exhaust

If you have any questions or further interest please take a look at our Services Page or send us a message through our Contact Page.  Thanks for looking.

July 3, 2013

DSM general modifications

Lots of things going on in the shop lately, we just haven’t had much time to bring the camera in to take some photos.  We had a DSM that needed some general modifications to get it ready for dyno tuning.  We had to modify the IC piping, divorced wastegate dump as well as all the flanges for the exhaust system.  Here are a few quick photos of some of the welding and work that was done.  Nothing major made from scratch, but instead just ironing out any little kinks to get the car ready to really perform.

First we got the car up on the hoist and began by removing the existing exhaust system, divorced wastegate dump as well as disconnecting some of the IC piping.

DSM general modifications

The Thermal Research and Development exhaust had all its two and three bolt flanges cut off and in their place would be a v-band clamps.  Here’s one of them after being welded up.  The entire tube assembly is put overtop the green hose (which is a back purge hose fed through the welding table) and the tin foil acts as a dam to keep the argon inside the cylinder while it’s being welded.  There is a few small holes in the tin foil to allow argon to flow out to allow for a complete purge and ultimately an inert environment.  The scrap tube on the bottom is to elevate the v-band assembly to keep it at a comfortable height during welding.

backpurge v-band stainless steel v-band

Here it is welded in place on the car.

TRD stainless v-band

Typically to prevent a silicone coupler from coming off, either end of the tubing that butts up in the coupler must be bead rolled (as seen on the left tubing) or have weld beads applied.  This “hump(s)” prevents the hose clamp from sliding and ultimately having the coupler blow off the intercooler tubing.  In this case the tubing on the right is actually a part of the intercooler, which is bolted up in behind the bumper.  The easiest way to retain the silicone coupler is to add a few evenly spaced beads, two of the four beads required some contortion skills.  These two were the easy ones.

intercooler bead hump

This was one of the tricky ones, the other was welded with a mirror so it was hard to get a photo.  In this case one hand through a duct in the bumper with the TIG torch, and another hand coming up underneath the car with some TIG filler.

DSM intercooler modification

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 22, 2013

Pipe polisher and CNC cutting

We’re always looking to acquire useful equipment to increase productivity and quality so we can provide our customers even greater value.  We’ve been busy as we picked up a pipe polisher and been busy CNC cutting.  The pipe polisher allows us to prep tubing before welding to allow for a beautiful seamless brushed finish, or it can be used post welding to remove any weld lines or seams.  Also the tubing polisher will also allow us to sand steel tubing prior to welding to remove any mill scale that would otherwise contaminate a TIG weld.  Mill scale can be removed in many other ways, but with a tubing polisher it’s one of the fastest.

Tubing Polisher

Now we just have to stock a variety of belts for the various types of work we’ll be prepping, also keeping belts specific to mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum to avoid material contamination.  The last thing we’d want to do is embed steel into a stainless steel or aluminum part by cross-contaminating by using the same belt.  So once a belt is used for the first time we mark on the back what it is to be used for, likewise goes for polishing/buffing wheels.

This is one of the saddest parts I, Conrad, have produced.  This is a marker that I made for my grandmother who passed away early this year.  It has almost an hour and a half of engraving and CNC cutting, there were thousands of lines of G-code to have this part produced.  The sides are engraved with the words “Always Loved” prior to being TIG welded on.

Steel Grave Marker

It is left as bare steel so it could form a nice brown patina over time to allow it to blend in with the beautiful surrounding forest.  Even after being in the rain for 24 hours the dandelion, grass and birds had a gold like patina, it was really quite nice.  Rest in peace Grandma Anne.

April 10, 2013

TIG Welding and CNC Cutting

We’ve been busy the last few days TIG welding and CNC cutting up a variety of materials and a variety of thicknesses for some local fabricators.

Here’s some 1/2″ 44w steel plate that we cut, the internal features were cut with the corner lockout on so it allow for a slower cutting speed and less taper.  We’ve seen a huge improvement with holes!

TIG Welding and CNC Cutting

1/2" steel cnc plasma cut cnc plasma cut fish eye

While cutting all the half inch steel we had some room to nest a prototype rotation gauge.  This tool will be used with our tubing bender to ensure that our bends are on the correct plane or what angle the plane should be. This was designed in Solidworks to be perfectly balanced left-to-right as the center of gravity is located right in the center of the “V”.  It just needs a tapped hole at the bottom of the “J” for a 3/8″ bolt.

rotation gauge mandrel bend tool

mandrel bend rotation tool steel

After all the heavy lifting we had a quick tweak to make with this exhaust that is destined for a Dodge Viper.  The hangers were off by 1/2″ (hence the pair of black “X’s”) and needed some adjustment.

exhaust hanger repair

Normally we’d just cut the brackets off and just create new ones, but the customer wanted a quick fix, so instead we strategically cut the hanger, moved them to where it should be and then welded in the cuts.  Made for really quick work and it provided a low cost fix.

Now onto a R32 Skyline anti-sway bar modification.  We already started in this photo by cutting three of the four mounting points.

R32 skyline sway bar modification

Rear anti-sway bar mount removed.

anti-sway bar mount cut

Front anti-swaybar mount removed.

sway bar mod

With the mounts removed the ends of the tubing are prepped.  Here the removed mount is having the orientation double checked with index mark on the tube.

mint design sway bar modification

Here are the new brackets cut off the CNC plasma table.  The new mount for the front allows for an additional mounting hole 0.875″ forward and behind the stock mounting location.  The rear allows for 1″ forward and behind.  This will allow the driver to adjust the anti-sway bar roll stiffness and alter the handling of the car.

CNC cut sway bar mounts

Checking alignment.

CNC anti-sway bar adjustable


Mint Design TIG welding

Checking the alignment on the other end.

Mint Design anti-sway bar modification

Getting ready to tack.

TIG weld anti-sway bar

Beginning to weld them all up!

TIG welding Speedglas

Post flow.  This is when the argon is purging after the arc has been extinguished.  This allows for the weld to cool down in an inert atmosphere as well as the tungsten and filler rod.  This all avoids contamination and yields very high quality welds.

post flow TIG weld

Speedglas welding helmet

This was a multi-pass weld so as to ensure that this joint would be strong and not fail in this high stress area.

R32 Skyline anti-sway bar modification

All our jobs of the day ready to pick up and go!

Fab shop photo

UPDATE – 5-May-13

Our customer took those 1/2″ steel plates (first three photos in this post) and fabricated a hitch for a John Deere tractor.

john deere hitch john deere fabricatecnc cut john deerecnc cut john deere tractor

February 25, 2013

Steel mannequin

We had a neat project this week, design and build an interlocking steel mannequin for modeling scarves.  We normally use Solidworks as our primary CAD design source, however Autodesk has come out with a pretty neat piece of software called Autodesk 123D.  It takes 3D models (.stl and .obj files) and allows you to manipulate the model in many ways, in this case we are creating an interlocked sliced 3D model.  This will allow us to slice the model into sheets and allow us to cut in on the CNC table and weld the pieces together.  This 3D model we are dealing with is a steel female mannequin for mocking and displaying infinity scarves for our sister company, Möbius Threads which is run by Jaylene Andres.

Steel mannequin

Before we cut any steel we cut out a small 4″x4″ template with various notch sizes.  That will allow us to find the correct notch size and ensure that when we cut out all the pieces they will fit up tight, but still have some room to slide together easily.  Along the back where the horizontal sheet meets the vertical sheets, they will be tacked in place via the TIG welder.  This will lock all the pieces together and allow this structure to be transported from the sewing/cutting room floor to trade shows and open houses.

Here’s what the template looks like:

Steel CNC cut template

Based on the kerf width of the plasma a notch of 0.108″ (in CAD) is ideal.  Just enough room to be loose for assembly but tight enough that once all the pieces are in it’ll be a solid structure.  Another way around this would be to measure the actual kerf width, then update the CAM software, then make a template.  It’d come out with a more realistic CAD notch size, as the material being cut is 14ga steel (which is 0.074″ in thickness), but the method we took is quicker and worked just fine.

With that info of the ideal CAD notch size the model is updated, exported to a .dxf and then tool paths are created.  The total cut time took about 1/2hr.  The metal pieces were cleaned up and assembled.  Here are all pieces after coming off the CNC table.

Steel CNC cut mannequin parts

This is the final product.

Steel CNC cut mannequin

And now it’s modeling some Möbius Thread scarves.

Steel CNC cut mannequin parts Mobius Threads Steel CNC cut mannequin parts Mobius Threads

Not sure if it’s going to be powdercoated or if a patina will be applied to it.  That’ll be decided shortly.  He’s a video of it cutting one of four panels to create this steel mannequin.

February 14, 2013

Welding table retirement

After five long years we have decided to retire our little welding table and build a new small versatile table that will allow us to build more precise parts.  This below 3d model is the design we came up with.  The hoops are for ratchet strapping parts down easily to the table, hanging clamps from or to stick PVC tubes (containing TIG filler wire) within close reach without getting in the way.  The corner gussets also allow for the lack of bracing on the bottom of the legs.  The less things under the table we find the better.

welding table

We cut the top on the CNC plasma table and began cutting up some 2″x2″ HSS tubing for the base.

welding table base

The CNC cuts pretty good detail out of 3/8″ steel, with little to no dross and angularity.

cnc cut steel

Prior to the table being cut out the plate marker was used to center mark where all the holes would be drilled (4″ on center in both directions).  This will allow for fixtures that can be installed to clamp parts down to the table prior to welding.

center punch marks

We feel like a steel wool factory.  The mag drill with annular cutter made quick work of this table top.  All the drilling was done after the 2″x2″ steel frame was welded on the underside of the table top.  Having this frame welded on ensures that any residual stresses after drilling don’t allow the table top to warp.  We didn’t want to induce any warping during the fabrication process, but the table doesn’t need to be precise enough to be blanchard ground.

mag drill welding table

With the top drilled it was time to weld up the frame.  Legs are completed and welded up to the 3/8″ steel feet which are bolted up to the caster wheels.

tig weld feet

Already being put to good use!

welding table

The gussets are formed and ready to be welded on.  The plasma cut slit on the bend line makes it easier to bend the part as well as gives a clean area to weld the gusset to the leg.

cnc cut gussets

January 31, 2013

Heat recovery plate fabrication for a fireplace

We had a customer that had a neat project, so here we are documenting a heat recovery plate fabrication project needed for a fire place.  To start we’ve been busy hoisting around some 3/8″ steel in the shop to get ready to cut and weld.  We also found it interesting to do a cut comparison between a local laser cutting shop and our in house CNC plasma table.  The laser sample is on the left, we are very proud of the cut quality with our CNC table and this shows it.  The CNC cut has a square, straight and sharp edge, while as the laser cut piece is a bit thicker (1/2″ vs 3/8″) the cut quality is very poor, pictures speak a thousand words.

heat recovery plate fabrication

This heat recovery plate setup was designed by the customer, we just cut it out and welded it. They are installed one set at a time and interlock with each other once in the fireplace.

heat recovery plate fabricationheat recovery plate fabrication

The pieces are TIG welded together after coming off the CNC table.  We pride ourselves on high cut quality, and to go along with high quality welding will always yield a very nice finished product.

January 23, 2013

Building an ITB (individual throttle body) setup

We had a customer come to us with an OEM manifold and a set of throttle bodies from a motorcycle.  We merged the two together, we didn’t get any photos building an ITB, but here is a photo of the final product.

Building an ITB


We simply cut the OEM manifold off at the runners (roughly where the welds are) and sanded the surface down till it was flat and so that the spacing for the center two runners were straight.  We then bead blasted the manifold to clean it up prior to any fitting or welding.  Once the manifold was cleaned we cut four Ø1.5″ 0.064″ thick 6061-T6 tubing to adapt to the individual throttle bodies.  The tubes were ovalized on one end and fitted up with existing runners.  Once completed we tacked the tubing onto the runners and then welded them in place.  The little beads at the end of the tubes are to ensure that the hose clamps that are securing the rubber tubing doesn’t slip.  It’s an alternative way to having the tubing bead rolled.

October 16, 2012

Cutting away

Just another busy night in the shop.  We’re CNC cutting some 10 gauge 44W steel pieces for a half dozen weldments to be used for pressure testing at the Gardiner Dam.


September 26, 2012

CNC cutting fish

After our fish went over so well the first time, here, we figured it would be a nice thing to donate some more fish to a cancer fundraiser for my father-in-law.

A few fish prepping for a bath.


Trying something new.  I never enjoy grinding mill scale off steel so a 4:1 ratio of Muriatic Acid to water does the job for me.


What the fish look like after the acid dip, compared to the hot rolled material it came from. Bye bye mill scale!


Scotchbrite and blowtorch, works every time. They were sealed with boiled linseed oil and a coat of carnuba wax.


Mixed it up by adding a copper rod to the muriatic acid and leaving these two pieces in at the same time. Semi plated them with copper and gave it a translucent pink hue.