Our snug is, well, snug. That’s kind of the point. But it does mean that the wood burner is worryingly close to the hi-fi amplifier and the shelves. Hence I thought to myself, I’ll make a heat shield out of aluminium sheet. And to make it look pretty, I’ll write some code to generate a pattern and get that pattern laser-cut into the aluminium and it’ll look a lot like every other algorithmically-generated laser-cut pattern, except it’ll be uniquely mine and a project I can take right through from writing the code to screwing it all together.
It didn’t quite happen like that. But we’ll get to that bit.
Everyone and their dog is using Voronoi patterns, coz computational design is the flared trousers of this decade. The patterns are vaguely natural and there’s a wonderfull Processing library called Toxiclibs that makes this easy. Some messing about tweaking parameters gave me this design, which is just as flowingly organic as I wanted, i.e. not much by most people’s standards, daringly lacking in rectangularity by my standards:
I sent that design off to Ponoko for a quote. And then I fell over, coz US$60 for the aluminium sheet, US$50 for the laser cutting, and US$100 for the shipping, coz they don’t cut metal in NZ. I asked some more local cutters and they said a worse price. Errr… no. Instead, I just had some long showers and pondered, until I came up with another way to do it.
Print out the design full scale, glue the design to a sheet of aluminium from the pile in the workshop, and use that design as a guide to drill some holes free-hand:
Round the corners, deburr, run an orbital sander over the surface, tidy up, and it’s done:
Things I’ve learnt from this project:
1) Laser cutting metal is still really expensive.
2) Absolute positional accuracy is still really expensive. If you can design it away, then do so.
3) Per dollar, laser printers are astoundingly accurate pieces of kit.
4) Brushed finishes on aluminium hide a multitude of sins. Orbital sanders FTW!