While I've been focusing a lot of time on machining recently, there are also a few other projects in flight. Two of them, both focused on improving things at home, yielded results tonight: an adapter for our sink to connect a wort chiller, and a laser cut tray for our remotes.
The adapter was particularly well suited to 3D printing. I can do quite a bit to reverse-engineer objects, but when threads get involved things get weird. Since I wasn't sure which thread pitch or diameter I needed, I tried the 4 most likely candidates - easy to do, when you can print them all at once, and they cost less than $0.10 apiece! Fortunately, one of them fits and functions well enough to test, and when I find issues with the design it's easy to tweak it by printing the new designs. I can even try out a bunch of different ideas at once just like I did with the threads, so if I'm not sure that something will work, it's not a big deal to give it a go.
Another popular prototyping technology these days is laser cutting. While not quite as versatile as 3D printing, it does work remarkably well for designs that can be made from flat materials. Lauren and I spent a few hours designing this tray in Fusion 360 to hold our remotes, with a few sketches and some cuts. We used F360's rendering feature to adjust the look and feel until we liked the result:
Once we had the design ready, I exported the sketch geometry into Inkscape to create a SVG file that could be laser cut. We opted for a bamboo sheet body and red felt insets from Ponoko, which I've used in the past for laser cut parts. The result is pretty good, though it's a bit short in the long dimension; turns out we made a rookie mistake and modeled the tray a bit undersize... It was supposed to reach over the entire table, and had some neat removable sliders for making it square.
It still looks great though, and all the remotes fit! I call that a win.