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Tutorials and techniques / Re: Cordura Pouch Flap construction technique
« on: September 19, 2017, 11:08:38 AM »
Thanks! No the guides are Sailrite ones I think. They are pretty good, but will move if you aren't paying attention and you're pushing on them too hard. They also have little silicon pads over the magnets, which do come off and need to be glued back on. I have a few of these guides and they are invaluable. I like how quick they are to add of remove, especially if your work has other things projecting out that prevent the use of a guide, like a panel with buckles.

These feet with guides are intriguing. How do they work? Can they ride over things if needed?

Here's how I built a laser for my Brother KE430F bartacker machine. Great tip from StonePhotoGear and Gear Dynamics! It really speeds up the process of "aiming" the material in the work clamp.

The laser is held in a cooling block / movable clamp combination and connected to the machine on the eye-protection bar. It's a pretty rigid construction, it won't move by itself. It can easily handle the vibrations of the machine.
I don't know how long the laser light itself will hold, just had it for a couple of weeks. It doesn't get hot at all, so I hope it will stay with me :)

If you have a stable power supply, you might not even need the current driver. Not sure. I've read that lasers need a supersteady voltage and current.

I got all parts from ebay, except for a 5 volts wall power adapter, which I already had.
Make sure you get the crosshair laser lense. They also sell single lines, dots etc.

Total costs are something like 10-15 euros, depending on which power adapter you use. The assembly is really easy, 1 hour of work!

Here we go:

-Solder the output + and - of the power adapter to the input of the current driver. The current driver is really small so I opened up the power adapter housing and put it in there, wrapped in some duct tape.

-Solder the output + and - of the current driver to the laser + and -. You could also use a DC jack & plug.

-Test the laser. You can focus the laser beam by turning the end cap.

-Take the round baseplate of the laser mount.
-Screw the cooling block on the laser mount.
-Put the laser in the cooling block. I put some teflon tape over the laser focus, to make it tight.

-Drill and tap a hole AT THE RIGHT SPOT on the eye-protection bar of the bartacking machine. Make sure you tap with the size of thread of the laser mount. Or else connect with some more nuts. Check beforehand where to drill, the whole thing needs to be able to make the right angles etc. I wanted to laser to be right above the needle position or as much as possible, so I had to move the eye protection glass down one hole on the holding bar.

-My wall adapter had a convenient integrated on/off switch so i mounted it next to the on/off switch of the bartacker machine, under the table.

-Connect and tighten all parts, focus the laser and you're done!

Material Sourcing:

Tools needed:

-soldering iron and soldering lead
-some shrink tube or electrical tape
-some thin double electrical wire
-1/4" UNC 24 TPI (or 20 TPI??) thread tap

Parts from ebay: (I've put the descriptions and pics below, so the links don't expire)

-Aluminum Radiator Heatsink 22x27x46mm For 12mm Laser Module With Screws Silver
-Adjustable Red 5mW 650nm Cross Laser Module Focus Laser Head Industrial Grade
-650nm 532nm 780nm 808nm 980nm Laser Diode LD Drive Driver Current Adjustable
-360 Degree Clamp Base Stand Mount Holder For 12mm Laser Module Pointer Torch

You also need a 3-5 volts wall powered adapter.

Hope it helps!

Had an appointment with Laguna Tools today. Demoed one of their smaller machines, that had a 100W tube installed. Right off the bat, the attention to "what do you need to do" was evident. NOT "this is what we can do" that most salesmen try and use. Of course they're interested in selling a machine, just as much as I am interested in purchasing one. They offer up to a 150W tube for C02 lasers, and FYI: THEY ALL RUN ON 110V :D

I took a sample of the material I make most of my covers out of, a 3-layer sandwich of 600D Polyester(wonderful stuff, btw), felt and a liner material of 200D Oxford Nylon. Cut through all 3 layers handily in a single go. Tried slowing the travel speed down to melt all three layers together, alas it was a no-go. I was hoping that this would completely eliminate the need to baste the layers together prior to cutting, as I hoped the heat from the laser would simply melt all 3 layers together. Nope, the felt is thick enough that it disperses the beam path enough to not allow this to happen. Just the outer and inner layers together, it does as I hoped, but not with the felt in between.

A 150W replacement tube is approx $1100-1200 btw, so replacement parts are not that expensive, compared to the cost of the machine(which is still quite low, IMO).

I've never seen anyone use a laser like that for fabrics, so I'd reach out to them and see if it's something they are aware if people do and ask them for their contact info to get to pick their brains as well, including how they deal with fumes.
See answer about fume and smoke control/exhause below

One thing I see, is that you can get a 64" rather than a 80". Rolls are usually no wider than 60" anyway, so what's that additional 16" going to do for you?

Good point. The felt I use comes in 20yd bolts, and is 72" wide. I can always cut the re-rolled roll down to 60" to match the widths of the other materials I use. This will also save on the cost of the machine, and since an 8ft roll-up door is standard on most workspaces it seems, the 64" machine is small enough it can still fit through the door when delivered ::)

Yes you will need fume extraction, which is slightly more difficult without an enclosure, but it looks like they have options for this.
They recommended contacting BOFA, which is what I would most likely pair it with on the exhaust end. Not cheap, but neither is a fine from the state of CA or the EPA :o
The large cutting tables have a downdraft feature, so it aids in removal of fumes and smoke

You're right the table is probably not setup to support fabrics, so you should ask about options for that.
They can customize a table to incorporate a honeycomb top. Instead of the table(Z axis) moving like on smaller machines, the laser head(lens) is adjusted manually so you can adjust for the thickness of material on the table.
The high sides and low gantry might make it difficult to put rolls in, so you will have to cut your material blank to size before lasering it.
I would be loading this from the end, a pre-cut "sheet" would be slid onto the bed from a long cutting/layout table, similar to the ones used in garment production lines.
Is the machine actually made in the US?
The frames/gantries are made in China. The sales guy I spoke with was not shy about saying that. He did mention, however, that the machines are assembled here in the USA. Didn't ask about where tubes come from. I asked about L.O.L. on tubes(they are glass tubes, vs metal(higher cost) that Epilog use. He mentioned they have customers that have been using the same tube for almost 5yrs. For higher production setups, expect to change the tube more frequently. Most parts such as drive belts are user-serviceable, which also helps in keeping maintenance costs down compared to other competitors who either design their products to "require some know-how" or simply require a technician to come out(more $$$). I'm not afraid to delve into a machine if I know I can do it, but I'm not stupid ;D


Off Topic / Re: Pricing Methodology?
« on: January 28, 2016, 12:46:00 AM »
Time spent + materials + a little overhead = Retail. I have posted my project/material calculator here, which I feel like it gives you a very decent ballpark for a fair price.
Since it is an excel sheet, you can play around with whatever numbers you want, such as hourly rate, fixed rates (ie if you want to charge a start-up fee or whatever misc expenses you have, such as thread for those of us too lazy to bother about the exact cent it cost for the project) or even how much (little) money you can save by properly planning your cuts and doing a tight lay-up of materials.

WTF is absolutely on the money when you start to scale up IMO. If you have proper production lines and do this full time, then for sure you need to do a BOM, and you need to cost every single thing in your operation.

Do I care about market price? Not really. I never got into the business of competing with First-Spear or BFG about who could make the most money off a mag pouch. I am simply not set up to be able to compete on their pricing of a well made mag pouch. But I can offer you a mag pouch that is made exactly how you want it, which is what sets a lot of us smaller guys apart from the big ones. We can be agile and fast (speaking of turn-around, not production speed), while they are strong and slow.
On a lot of bigger products, such as carriers and packs, the pricing evens out a bit more, but I still don't care if pack X is $250 and Y $170 and mine is $320- if you want a CUSTOM made pack then you gotta spend the coin. If you don't need a custom pack then feel free to pick up whatever is out there...

If you want to compete with a generic mag pouch, then invest in specialty equipment and technology and become a master at it, there is simply no other (sustainable) way.

Off Topic / Re: Pricing Methodology?
« on: January 27, 2016, 10:33:08 PM »
<snip>add up every buckle/ inch of webbing etc and then pay yourself a fixed hourly rate<snip>

BOM.  Bill Of Materials.  It's tedious and necessary.  Don't forget to weigh your thread, preferably in grams, before and after sewing the item.  Track length, area, piece, minute, weight, and every minute detail for accurate costing.

Techniques, speed, accuracy, etc need to be developed and consistent prior to establishing an accurate hourly rate.  What's the cost per square foot of the operation?  Payroll, electric, water, climate control, insurance, rent/mortgage, etc, etc, etc.  Until then, there's no reason one couldn't experiment with different hourly rates to see how it translates against market retail pricing.  It's intriguing to see how different hourly rates translate to retail pricing in a spreadsheet.  On top of all that, add what you'd like to earn an hour.

Don't be bashful about your rate; In order for a business to be sustainable, a certain amount of revenue must generated.

Tutorials and techniques / Backpack tutorial (from 2011)
« on: September 09, 2015, 12:13:00 PM »

I made this tutorial back in 2011. And since then, i have come a long way when it comes to making backpacks. (so please donīt think that this is the level that i am on, right now) Some of the techniques shown in the tutorial, i do not use anymore. I have been meaning to make an up to date tutorial, but i simply havenīt found the time to do that. As you will see; documenting a backpack build and then making a tutorial of it is not a small task.

But i still think that although iīm personally not happy with this tutorial anymore, as my skills have developed a lot after making this, some people can still find this useful. Most of the basic ideas still apply.

If there are any major changes into my way of making packs, i have written those in this tutorial with bold lettering

1.) I wonīt go into details about measurements, etc.. Iīm just showing you what kind of process it is to make a backpack. This is such a big project that making a “Donīt use your own brains, just follow these steps and youīve got yourself a backpack”-tutorial would have taken ages to make. Maybe this will encourage more people into making backpacks, especially the less experienced ones after they see that there really is no greater mystery behind packs;

They are just like GP pouches, although bigger and they have shoulder straps.

2.) There are a lot of different pack designs. For this tutorial, I chose a simple, clamshell type backpack (pretty much like ATS RAID or Cobra.. (This actually looks a LOT like Cobra). If you have never made a backpack, I recommend you start from something simple like this.

3.) The techniques/methods iīll show you, are not “the one and only way to do this or that”. This is just the way how I make backpacks.

4.) I have left out certain details/phases, like how to sew Pals, how to box-x, and stuff like that.. I assume that if someone is giving their first backpack project a go, they already know the basics of this craft.

5.) When iīm speaking about measurements, I use the metric system, so sorry about that, guys in US.

6.) Do your best to keep the seam thickness into a minimum. For example, if you look at the pictures of the finished pack closely, you will see that the zipper on the front panel which goes all the way down to the seam and the loop of webbing for the srbīs of the upper compression straps, are on top of each other.

This is not the way to do it. Itīs not the end of the world, but still, it adds to the thickness of the seam.

Ummm... Of course, i did that on purpose, just to make a point:)

No one ordered this pack from me, nor did I even have any need for a pack like this, so I made it only for the tutorial. This is an E&E / Small day pack.

Letīs start.

A backpack consists from 4 parts;

Shoulder straps


The side/bottom piece

Front piece

And usually, thatīs the order I start making a pack.

First; hereīs how the end product should look like.

Letīs begin from shoulder straps.

There are a couple of ways to make these; The “inside out”-method, and the “sandwich the padding in between bottom and top layer of the shoulder straps and bind around it”-method, which I used with this pack. This method gives a pretty sharp looking result, but it requires you to have at least adequate binding skills. I know from a bitter experience that bad binding can ruin a perfectly good project.

I still suck at binding curves, and my binding attachment doesnīt seem to help me with that, hence the angles on both ends of the straps. Angled corners are a lot easier to bind than rounded corners (at least for me)

As this will be an E&E-type of pack, I didnīt use any spacer mesh/air mesh with it. Also, when I started making packs, I thought that the thicker the padding is, the more comfortable it is to carry. Thatīs not the case, of course. Itīs more important to shape the shoulder straps correctly. Correctly shaped straps will divide the weight evenly, and they are also less bulky, which is especially important if you are carrying the pack while wearing body armor

Start off from making a template for the straps. If you already have a pack which you find comfortable to carry, make the template using the shape of itīs straps as a reference.

Cut the top and bottom layers using the template.

Tack down the webbing using hot glue, and sew the webbing in place (remember to box-x it from the both ends)

Cut the padding using your template. I used 4mm thick closed cell foam. (Like I said, this will be a small pack, so that will do) Use spray on adhesive in attaching the top layer and the bottom layer into it (not a necessity, but it helps and I prefer it over hot glue)

Apply the binding tape. I like to use Gutermanīs fabric glue and a whole lot of paper clips to tack it in place. After the glue has dried (it only takes a few minutes) itīs pretty easy to sew down the binding tape. If you have vertical webbing/elastic in the straps like I have here, remember to double back over them, so they will be triple stitched. For the binding tape, I used two lines of stitching, one close to the edge of the tape, another one close to the edge of the strap.

Box-x two pieces of 2” webbing into other end of the strap (the end which goes closer to the body of the pack) The straps will be attached from these 2” webbing into the body.

Make a template for the backpanel (same works with the front piece as well). Hereīs what my template looked like. Itīs measures are Height: 44cm Width: 28cm. I used a 1 cm seam allowance, so the end product is somewhere around 42cm/26cm

For the outer layer, I used 1000d cordura, and for the inner layer, I used 500d cordura. Cut one each.

Hot glue and box-x the straps into the outer layer of the backpanel (the 1000d). After that, sew a 2” webbing over the part where the straps attach to the backpanel (shown 2 pictures below)  (i donīt use this anymore; i donīt like how this kind of strap attachment looks.)

Hot glue the padding for the backpanel in place. After that, tack down the inner layer of the backpanel over it (forgot to take a picture of that, sorry)

If you want to, you can now sew some ”airchannels” into the backpanel.. Whether they actually allow any airflow is questionable, but they will help stiffen the backpanel, and give the pack a more finished look. You can skip this part if you want to.

Then we will make a pocket/sleeve for the frame sheet. In some commercially made packs, the pocket for frame sheet is also meant to accommodate a hydration bladder. However, if you want to do that, you have to add pleats into the pocket.. Otherwise, when you put a full bladder inside of it, the backpanel will bulge out. Surprisingly, there are a lot of commercial packs where the frame sheet/hydration pocket is made without pleats.

Tack the frame sheet pocket in place using fabric glue. I also added some looplocks for tying down stuff (the two on the top part of the pack are for TAD`s admin panel). That webbing+triglide combination is for attaching a hydration bladder.

Then we will attach the webbing which goes into the shoulder straps, into the backpanel. If you want to do it properly, this is pretty much the only way to do it.

We will start out by making a triangle. Fold the long side of the triangle. Tack down the webbing. Fold the other side of the triangle. Box-x the webbing. Then tack down the triangle+webbing combination into itīs appropriate place.

Hereīs how it should look like once finished:

If you want to, add attachment points for the sternum strap (forgot to take a picture a picture, but I will see them later on.

Now you can sew around the backpanel and itīs finished.

Measure the dimensions for the side piece. This is a clamshell type of pack, so the zippers should go under the pack.

The length for the side piece for my pack was 110cm

Then we have to determine the width of the side piece. I wanted the other side to have a storm flap. Also, I wanted the side which is attached to the backpanel, to have two columns of Pals.

The other side which attaches to the front piece, is much narrower

Then cut the side pieces

Tack down the zippers (#8 is a nice all around size) with hotglue or fabric glue. (these days i only use hot glue, not fabric glue)

The storm flap fold

Sew the zippers in place. Use two lines of stitching (one line is too few, 3 lines is too many)

Hydration port: Sew a piece of Velcro, exactly in the middle of the side piece. Sew around it.

Turn the side piece over, mark an X inside the box formed by the stiches. Then make additional markings around the X like this;

So basically, the middle lines mark where we have to cut through. The lines around it are a reference for stitching.

Stitch around the outer lines like this:

Cut an X in the middle of the X which is formed by the stitching, and you will a yourself a hydration port. There are many way of doing the hydration ports, this is just one of them.

Carrying strap.

Cut a piece from 2” webbing (how long? itīs up to how big you want the handle to be)

Fold the webbing from the middle and sew over the folder area. Tack the carrying strap into itīs appropriate place, and then box-x it.

Sew down any pals webbing or what ever you want the side of the pack to have. Attach both sides with the zippers Now the side piece is ready.

Attach the side piece into the backpanel with paperclips to determine the measurements for the bottom piece. With this pack that dimensions were width 20cm +2cm for folds and the height; 14,2 cm ( thatīs how wide the side piece is, with both sides of the zippers attached).

Make the bottom piece. I usually give it two layers and sandwich the side piece in between them. Again, outer layer from 1000d and the inner layer from 500d (i havenīt used the sandwich technique for years. These days i use a single layer as the bottom, sew it into the zipper piece and bind the edge)

Attach the bottom piece into the side piece+backpanel combination with paper clips and mark the lines where you have to sew the bottom and sides together.

Sew any webbing you might want the bottom piece to have. Install a grommet if needed.

Tack down the side piece into the bottom piece. Itīs now sandwiched in between the two layers of the bottom piece. Sew.

Do the same for the other side

Tack down the compression straps to the sides (4 in total)

Attach the finished side piece into the finished backpanel with paper clips. See that it fits perfectly. It HAS to to fit perfectly. If it doesnīt fit, itīs not too late to make adjustments.

Sew the side piece into the backpanel. After first line of stitching, fold the sides over and inspect the seam to make sure everything looks ok. If everything is ok, sew another line of stitches, Then apply the binding tape (not shown here) and sew it in place (again, I used fabric glue to tack down the binding tape)

Attach the other ends of the compression straps, if you havenīt done it before

Hereīs what it should look like before binding the seam.

Make the front piece. Those two loops of webbing at 10 and 2 oīclock and those 3 looplocks at the bottom are for attaching a beavertail, donīt mind them. I also made a zippered pocket into the front piece. Before I sewed down the pals, veclro and the other stuff, I attached the front piece into the side piece+backpanel combination with paperclips to make sure it fits perfectly.

Then make the inner side of the front piece. Now that Velcro backed admin pouches are in fashion (like BFG dappers), I didnīt bother with making any organizing pockets, I just used long strips of velcro.

Tack the outer and inner layers of the front piece together, attach it to the side piece+backpanel combination and sew the first line. Then turn the pack over and check the seams. If everything is ok, sew the second line. Apply the binding tape, and youīre done.

Hereīs a finished pack with the beavertail on:

And hereīs how it rides on my back:

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