Milling a Circuit

Project by Jeremy Fryer-Biggs

making a stuffed animal with your microfactory!

since we first publicly announced the microfactory, people have been suggesting that we have our machine replicate itself. There are lots of problems inherent to this concept but it did get us thinking that it would be great to have the machine do something a little outside the box - cut fabric - and to use those parts to make an adorable, miniature, plush version of our device: meet Mikey the mini-microfactory!!!

project parts list

  • Fabric
  • Carpet tape
  • Painter's tape
  • Thread
required bits

to cut fabric you will need a spring-loaded drag knife bit

Eagle Speaker Circuit Layout Image By Jeremy Fryer-Biggs

making a plush microfactory

we began by creating a CAD file of "Mikey"

Fabric CAD Part Image By Jeremy Fryer-Biggs

then we translated that program using a CAM program into g-code. We created a pack of all of the pieces that were made of the same type of fabric in the same file to streamline fabrication.

Fabric CAM Image By Jeremy Fryer-Biggs

before we cut, we mounted a 0.25in thick piece of polypropylene to the microfactory's table. Polypropylene is the material found in many commercial cutting boards and is favored because it is soft (thereby not dulling the blade), slippery enough for the blade to slide (so that it doesn't get stuck) and relatively inexpensive.

after that, we prepared the fabric for the table. Fabric is, by its nature, flexible. Commercial CNC fabric cutters get around this problem by using a vacuum hold-down table so that the material does not stretch as the knife is making its way through. We do not currently have such a hold-down table, so we recommend 2 things when cutting fabric on the machine. First, only cut fabrics that have relatively little stretch in the weft and warp yarns (sorry no spandex). Secondly we found that by attaching an adhesive backing to the fabric, we were able to restrict stretch (we used carpet tape for this purpose but there are many options). Once you have taped up the back of the fabric, use a ring of painter's tape around the outside to hold the fabric to the cutting board.

Screenshot Photo By Rachel Tine

then we ran the program

Fabric Cutting Photo By Rachel Tine

(see a video of the fabric being cut)

when we had all of the fabric sheets cut, we extracted the finished pieces

Cut out Fabric Photo By Rachel Tine

and started sewing the free pieces such as the eyes and mouth to the bigger panels

Finished Fabric Parts Photo By Rachel Tine

finally we sewed the panels together and added cotton stuffing

Sewing Photo By Rachel Tine

and voila, a cute plush mini-microfactory!

Finished Plush Microfactory Photo By Rachel Tine

special thanks to