In our blog we've linked to several pieces of advice for makers looking to go from prototype to small-scale manufacture, from James Lewis' PCB design checklist and Dacian Todea's clever PCB-based PCB enclosure through to Paul Bleisch's cheap custom membrane keypads and Sandy Noble's PolargraphSD write-up. Recently, we linked to Dan Royer's advice on labelling laser-cut parts, as seen in his DIY robotics kits, and now Dan is back with some more valuable advice: rectangular cutting. The tip is simple and elegant: no matter the shape of the parts, Dan cuts them in a rectangle. By ensuring that they're smaller than the boxes into which they are packed, he makes shipping easy; by stacking them in ascending size top-to-bottom he increases strength and minimises breaking risk; he can often find room within the rectangle for spares of smaller or more easily-broken parts to ensure a build goes smoothly; taping the parts in place so they don't fall out is quick and easy; and if that weren't enough he's not left with sheets of material with oddly-shaped holes that can snag, crack, or simply be annoying when attempting to cut additional parts. In short, it makes life a lot easier and requires very little extra material while adding only a tiny amount of time to the cutting process.
Each set of parts is contained in a rectangle. Even if I was making only one of a thing, I would put it in a rectangle. That way there’s no jagged edges left on the sheet that I might save for more cutting later. Snags, tears, slivers, cuts… not a problem any more.