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PostPosted: September 1, 2016, 8:10 pm 
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Joined: July 23, 2016, 12:26 am
Posts: 2
Hi all. I'm Robbie, a 26 year old engineer at a company manufacturing ultra-high vacuum systems. Previously, I worked as a manufacturing engineer at a company producing sheet metal components cut on CO2 and fiber optic lasers and turret punch presses, primarily programming each type of machine and performing part layout.

I'm obviously completely new to the forum, but I've for a few years now been interested in building my own locost. With my employer, I've been put in the position where I have a resource available to laser cut any size or dimension of tube, and I figured why not use the opportunity to see if the locost community would be interested as well. If this seems like a viable option, I would like to start a business producing these frames and possibly supplying off the shelf components as well.

What I'm proposing would be a fully cut and notched tubeset ready to be welded. I feel that the cutting of the tubes and checking/rechecking angles of cuts would really be my least favorite portion of the job. I have a full solidworks pro version at my disposal, and currently have a book frame modeled up ready to go. I don't see it being an issue getting other frame geometries produced as well, I just need to produce models.

I'm curious what others would pay for a tubeset, and how strong demand is for each configuration at this time? Let me know if you think this may be something you are interested in. :cheers:

Here is a demonstration of the laser's capabilities:


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PostPosted: September 2, 2016, 12:00 am 
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Joined: January 10, 2008, 4:47 pm
Posts: 7653
Location: Massachusetts
Do you have a rough idea how much the mark up on material would be for a package of cut tubes? A really good job on this would include notches and keys on the cuts to help fit the parts ( at least somewhat self jigging ) and laser writing on the tubes to identify them complete with directions, arrows etc. That's the beauty of that type of equipment.

My project, Car9, has 3 builders and 2 are round tube builds which might benefit from a kit.

Another feature for a tube set like this might be to remove one of the ears on the coped tubes for diagonals, where the tube has to fitted in after welding other parts.

In addition to frames another part I am interested in are front uprights made from weldments.

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PostPosted: September 2, 2016, 6:23 am 
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Joined: June 5, 2016, 7:03 am
Posts: 235
Location: ontario
It has been done.
I once bought a complete set of precut square tubes from Steve Graber (La Bala). Some builders may find it reassuring to have precut tubes. I have mixed feelings.
I am now building my second locost. In my experience what characterizes locost building is the extraordinary variety of engines, transmissions, axles, even suspensions and personal design choices. As illustrated in the McSorley files, there are many alternatives to the Book chassis drawings.
My first build was enlarged and stretched longitudinally to accommodate a six cylinder. The plan was then changed and I ended up bolting a VW TD diesel and Samurai transmission with a 7.5 Ford rear axle. My current build is going to be a rear axle Corvair engine rig. I am in the process of figuring out my own chassis to reflect this choice.
What I am saying here (and others may disagree). Not many builders who build their car as opposed to assembling a kit would want a precut set of tubes. They (I) like some degree of flexibility to adjust the building (fabricating) as they go, as opportunity for donor parts present themselves for instance . In other words, precut sets of tubes...not for everyone. :cheers:


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PostPosted: September 2, 2016, 11:40 am 
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Joined: October 24, 2008, 2:13 pm
Posts: 4151
Location: Carlsbad, California, USA
Man, what a fabulous capability to have available. Is your company looking for jobs to fill up unused time on the machine, or is the chassis tube kit something you are specifically interested in and willing to program the machine for?

Cheers,

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Damn! That front slip angle is way too large and the Ackerman is just a muddle.

Build Log: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=5886


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PostPosted: September 2, 2016, 12:44 pm 
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Joined: August 31, 2015, 2:24 pm
Posts: 204
Location: Delaware
Sounds interesting. Figure the Haynes Roadster flat packs cost about $600 for the UK folks.


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PostPosted: September 5, 2016, 8:07 am 
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Joined: December 14, 2015, 11:22 pm
Posts: 16
Location: Martinez, CA
That video of the laser cutting tube is pretty amazing. I didn't know the head of the laser could pivot to get into corners. I'll bet that machine is EXPENSIVE.

Have you seen RTz's laser cut build?
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=17715


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PostPosted: September 5, 2016, 1:13 pm 
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Joined: May 27, 2006, 9:46 pm
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Location: BC, Canada. eh?
Personally, I think it's a great idea! Some of the cuts I had to make (okay, lots of them!) were complex and difficult to accomplish with accuracy, and that accuracy is what determines the dimensional quality of the finished frame.

I used McSorely plans (custom drawn for us by Jim), and followed them with positively OCD attention to accuracy. I used a horizontal band saw (bought specifically for the purpose) to make my cuts, and I bet I measured & re-measured each and every cut a dozen times before turning on the saw. It was worth it, of course, and the accuracy of the final assembly was absolutely outstanding. Having a pre-measured & pre-cut set of tubes would have saved a LOT of time and, for those without the wherewithal to do these complex cuts, it would be a Godsend.

I'd suggest considering making two tubesets, to cover two different plan sets - say, a "book" frame set, and a +4 set. I think that would cover the vast majority of builds.

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PostPosted: September 6, 2016, 9:04 am 
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Joined: January 9, 2016, 8:45 pm
Posts: 53
Location: Knoxville, TN
I plan on building a mid/rear engine car next. Maybe a At-om clone would sell too. Perhaps find a very, very common front engine car to use as the donor then make the parts to work with it.


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PostPosted: September 7, 2016, 12:51 am 
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Joined: July 23, 2016, 12:26 am
Posts: 2
Hi all, had a very busy weekend so little chance to check back in.

I appreciate all the input, and I'll certainly take it into consideration. I am going to submit my model to my guy at the tube supply company with the laser to get an idea of what I'm looking at. The real beauty of his business is that his overhead is phenomenal because he has so much work, so I can essentially get these on an as needed basis. I'll also look into modeling a +4 frame, I'm sure the cost will be very similar with how low steel prices are. Mark up will be difficult to gauge at the moment, once I get some numbers on the laser cutting and material prices, I can figure that out. I'm really not looking to make a TON of money, but if I can get my foot in the door to designing more items, my plan is to possibly expand this into a business venture and tackle other items/platforms. Additionally, if we do pick up steam and make enough to fund a small workspace here, the plan is to potentially manufacture some finished goods.

As for tabs and slots for tube alignment; Absolutely, this is one thing I was discussing with the laser owner that will speed up assembly time drastically. Etching for tube placement shouldn't be a problem either to number or arrow or write your name or whatever haha.

If the interest seems rather low on the frames themselves, I can try peripherals like uprights (already discussing with a close friend who would be the business partner).

The flat packs at that price seem about right. Sheet metal is cut incredibly easy by any modern fiber optic laser, the Amada I programmed prior was running about 120 inches a minute on .063", and those flat packs are pretty devoid of holes (those eat up a LOT of time). Thick plate is a bit trickier, you need a good laser operator that is willing to take the time to adjust the head for a good cut with little blowout on the backside.

As for the lasers themselves, they are INCREDIBLY expensive. This particular laser feeds 20' bars, and their inventory system is fully automated, so it pulls the tubes off the rack and loads them on the machine. It really is quite the operation.

Stay tuned, I've got some training classes this week, but I'll check back in once I get some pricing info. Please keep sending any other ideas my way. My goal is really to provide any parts that fall within the scope of what the machine can do to those that have access to a welder but lack the ability to efficiently make parts for the larger assemblies. If there is something else that will move faster, I'm all ears.


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PostPosted: September 21, 2016, 9:19 am 
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Joined: July 1, 2011, 2:45 pm
Posts: 5
I would love to be able to design "my car" knowing I had this capability, to design in self locating tabs and notches etc, problem is places that have these abilities usually charge by unit. I had some laser cut aluminum quoted (flat) recently for a 3axis CNC machine.......it would have cost me $1000 for about 14 pieces in total weighing about 5lbs (not big at all).

Interested to see how your venture plays out!

-Bryan


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PostPosted: September 21, 2016, 2:08 pm 
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Joined: April 15, 2014, 1:54 pm
Posts: 443
A consideration that I think is important is that you will furnish the materials as well as prep them. That gives you control of the materials and you can assure us that you are furnishing DOM 2030 or whatever, and that it will meet strength/ductility requirements. If you buy in any quantity, you are due full certs.
I don't trust online metals or industrial metal supply salesmen.


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