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By Bantam Tools

Moon Tiles

Courtesy of Bantam Tools

Moon Tiles were designed by Abby Klein and Sebastian Misiurek for Bantam Tools.

Outer space is fascinating, especially the far side of the moon with its extreme texture. We wanted to make a set of components that could be expanded upon and replicated to create either a thing of almost infinite size or a smaller project like our Moon Tiles. We milled wood to create a low-poly topographic map of the far side of the moon, and we milled the aluminum brackets to hold the tiles together.

Here we offer a high-level look at the process, our build notes. The instructions assume you know how to use the Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine, as well as Fusion 360 and Rhino software. If you're just getting started, check out our collection of guides covering the basics and work through beginner projects to get comfortable.

Figure 2

Figure 3a

Tools, Materials, and Files

TOOLS

MATERIALS

FILES

Moon topography G-code reference diagram:

Figure 4

Set Up and Mill the Tiles

1. Download the STL file of the far side of the moon from the NASA website.

Figure 5

2. In Rhino, ReduceMesh to make the topography simple enough to split. This command will make a low polygon surface, which adds a faceted aesthetic to the piece in addition to making it workable in Rhino.

3. MeshToNURB the mesh to make it an editable polysurface. Select and split a square area away from the topography.

Figure 6

4. Split the selected area into nine squares. Measure your stock with calipers, and scale each square to fit within the parameters of your stock. Export each square as a step (.stp) file.

Figure 7

5. In Fusion 360, enter CAM mode and create a new setup. Enter your stock dimensions and offset the model 0 mm from the stock top.

Figure 8

6. Create a 3D pocket toolpath. Download the tool library if you haven't already. Select the 1/8" ball end mill from the tool library.

Figure 9

7. Enter the appropriate speeds and feeds for the type of wood you're using.

8. Check Manual Stepover and set the Maximum Roughing Stepdown to 1.27 mm.

Figure 10

9. Simulate the pocketing toolpath to avoid collisions preemptively.

Figure 11

10. Create a 3D morphed spiral toolpath and select a 1/16" ball end mill.

Figure 12

11. Check Axial Offset Passes and enter a 0.5 mm Maximum Stepdown.

Figure 13

12. Simulate the morphed spiral toolpath to avoid collisions preemptively.

Figure 14

13. Post-process each toolpath using the Othermill.cps post processor.

Figure 15

14. Open the Pocket G-code in Bantam Tools Desktop Milling Machine software and set up the file for milling, ensuring there's a z-axis offset for any fixturing material under the stock. Mill the file after entering the correct stock dimensions and fixturing your stock to the spoilboard.

Figure 16

15. Open the Morphed Spiral G-code in the Bantam Tools Desktop Milling Machine Software. Make sure to change the tool to a 1/16" ball end mill before milling.

16. Run each tile, cleaning the end mill between each tile.

Figure 17

Beginning of a pocket pass:

Figure 18

Beginning of a morphed spiral pass, completed pocket pass:

Figure 19

All nine tiles milled with no finish:

Figure 20

17. To finish the tiles, sand any rough edges with medium to fine grit sandpaper (150 to 220).

18. Apply one coat of teak oil, wait 15 minutes, and wipe away excess.

19. Repeat with a second coat within 24 hours.

Figure 21

Set Up and Mill the Brackets

1. Model the bracket in Rhino.

Figure 22

2. In Fusion360, enter CAM mode and create a new setup.

3. Measure your stock with calipers, enter the dimensions, and offset the model 0 mm from the stock bottom.

Figure 23

4. Create a 3D Pocket toolpath with a 1/8" flat end mill using the settings for Aluminum Advanced.

Figure 24

5. Set the Maximum Roughing Stepdown to 0.05 mm.

Figure 25

6. Preview and simulate the pocketing toolpath to avoid collisions.

Figure 26

7. Create a 2D Facing toolpath with a 1/8" flat end mill using the settings for Advanced Aluminum milling.

Figure 27

8. Select the top faces of the four protrusions in the geometry tab.

Figure 28

9. Check Multiple Depths and set the Maximum Stepdown to 0.05 mm.

Figure 29

10. Preview and simulate the facing toolpath to avoid collisions.

Figure 30

11. Create another 3D Pocket toolpath using a 1/32" ball end mill using the recommended settings for a 1/32" aluminum flat end mill (NOT the advanced settings) to make pilot holes for screws. Select the bottom circle of each hole in the model for the geometry.

Figure 31

12. With the bottom circles selected, change the Maximum Roughing Stepdown to 0.08 mm and check Manual Stepover.

Figure 32

13. Set the top height of the toolpath to slightly above the height of the stock where the holes will go (we chose 3.5 mm from the stock bottom).

14. Set the bottom height slightly above the stock bottom (we chose 0.75mm) to avoid the shaft of the end mill colliding with the stock.

Note: These are pilot holes and do not need to go completely through the stock.

Figure 33

Preview and simulate the pocketing toolpath so as to avoid collisions.

Figure 34

15. Create a 2D Contour toolpath using a 1/8" ball end mill and the respective settings for Advanced Aluminum milling.

Figure 35

16. With the bottom outer rim of the bracket selected, check Multiple Depths and set the Maximum Stepdown to 0.05 mm.

Figure 36

17. Preview and simulate the toolpath to avoid collisions.

Figure 37

18. The ball end mill will leave excess material on the bottom of the stock. Remove it using a few finishing passes with a 1/8" flat end mill using the same 2D Contour toolpath, only with a top height of 0.75 mm so there aren’t an exorbitant number of unnecessary passes.

Tip: The benefit of using the ball mill before the flat end mill is that the ball end mill is better and safer upon initially going into a material, especially one as hard as aluminum. The flat end mill, however, will give a clean bottom edge that the ball end mill can't reach safely.

Figure 38

19. In the Bantam Tools Desktop Milling Machine Software, open each Bracket G-code file in the order shown above.

20. Begin milling, ensuring that there's a proper offset for any fixturing material and that you're using the correct endmill with each file. The program will prompt you to change the bit when necessary.

21. Clean the end mill between each bracket.

Figure 39

Complete pocket pass:

Figure 40

Pocket pass for the pilot holes:

Figure 41

Both brackets milled with pilot holes drilled through with a 7/64" drill bit and no finish:

Figure 42

22. To finish the brackets, countersink the back side of the holes after drilling them through.

23. Sand-blast for a clean matte look.

Figure 43

Finished assembled piece:

Figure 44

Figure 45

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at support@bantamtools.com. We’re here to help. And if you do make the Moon Tiles, be sure to share with us. We’d love to see it!

File Downloads

  • 1932-1000-ND
  • 1932-1025-ND