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Handibot for surfboard building and other projects

Posted by Tom W 

I´m new here. But am competent in 3D CAD and use 3D printers and professional model makers in my profession as Industrial Designer.

On the side, i build custom kite surfboards to order. Right now i shape the boards in a CAD program called Akushaper and get the blanks shaped on a Akushaper machine in the UK and shipped to me in Sweden.

So i am interested in figuring out a way to shape light foam into surfboard shape. I was thinking i could use a Handibot that has long Y axis and move it along the foam blank. Boards are generally 5´4" x 19" . so i would start with a block of foam and mill each side. But am interested in being able to do even larger and smaller shapes.

There are also many other possibilities to make boards with CNC other ways if it is possible to do this.

In addition, i am starting to make Hydrofoil parts that consist of wings, fuselage, and struts in sizes that might fit into the long axis Y machine with no or limited movements. Here i would be interested in making the forms in MDF and molding parts in Carbon composites.
Or i might mill parts directly out of so-called G-10 glass fiber materials

I have also been looking at the ShopBot Buddy BT32 with Power Stick- this is a big stretch budget wize. But actually looks like what i need.
But seeing the Handibot with the extended Y and ability to index, is more realistic for my budget.

I´d appreciate any advice on machine choice.
Hi Tom!

As you might have seen in the other thread--the long Y axis handibot is probably 2 months away from being available. I got some more work done on it while we were snowed in here in Durham, but need to build at least two more prototypes to prove everything out.

Your project is an interesting one, A router will do a great job cutting foam and I'm thinking that a wooden jig to suspend the handibot above your workpiece would do nicely.

As far as inexepensive large format machines--there's also the Desktop Max with a 24 x 32 work area...slightly cheaper than the Buddy I believe.

Inventables makes a 1000mm version of the X-Carve which is pretty affordable. It's a belt drive but I think that the cutting forces for machining foam would not cause too much vibration.

G-10 will be machineable--but it will eat bits. I used to make circuit test beds with G-10 and to drill all the holes for the pogo pins--we'd have to buy a whole box of 1/16" drill bits!

Definitely keep an eye on the forum and I'll keep everyone updated as we get closer on the large handibot
Thanks Brian,

this was exactly what i was thinking- making a MDF bed with rails to support machine, have index marks on rails.
I´m in no rush, have boards in the shop that i have to deliver in March.

Being able to machine the foam opens up a range of possibilities to eliminate secondary milling operations and be able to add composite and wood inlays/reinforcements to the foam.

It opens up other possibilities to make sacrificial or soft tooling in MDF. I could make half molds and make composite parts, Then mill foam reinforcements that i glue into the the halves. This might streamline my production- I have increasing demand and looking for ways to be make more product without loosing ability to make custom shapes.

About the Desktop Max or Desktop- do you think i could move my foam block in the machine and mill longer parts? the Desktop Max would mean moving part once, in the Desktop 3-4 times.

The Desktop and Max both have about 5" of clearance under the spindle. I cut packaging for handibots out of 2" thick polystyrene on the max--the sheets are 4' long so I usually slide them through to get a few extra parts out of the remaining 1' after the first cut. It works really well.

I think the idea of an MDF jig, and some dowel pins embedded in the bed of the tool would work really well for indexing a large piece through the Max.
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