This page is meant to help break down what can be done in each of our individual spaces.
It's very important to understand that certain tools/machines are made for, and only safe/appropriate for, specific types of materials and
purposes - and that it can be dangerous and destructive to use the wrong tools for a certain material or purpose. At the very
least, it can be counterproductive.
There are certain things we do and don't allow to be done with every machine and tool, because of the damage and injury they
can cause - as a shop user, you must become familiar with them as part of overall training & experience. Get training from us,
and repeatedly check these pages in addition to asking questions, to determine the correct locations and tools/machines for
particular materials and processes.
More information categorized by material will be added on the Tutorials page. Please keep checking back as the website is updated.
Some incompatibilities just cause time-consuming messes. Some will destroy machine parts. Some are serious fire or injury
risks - and can cause expensive damage to machines as well. Many incompatibilities are some combination of all these things.
3-410 and N51-160 - Wood shop machine spaces
band saws - wood/plywood/mdf, plastic, foam, foam board, chipboard, Masonite, machinable wax, possibly aluminum
drill press - wood/plywood/mdf, plastic, aluminum, steel, foam, machinable wax,
mortising machine - solid wood only (this is a fancy drill press with a square chisel that surrounds a special type of
drill bit - the square chisel will not handle other materials well)
stationary sanders - wood/plywood/mdf only!
Machines with circular blades-
miter saws - long pieces of wood/plywood/mdf, very limited plastic only - no thin sheet plastic! No foam, no wax.
for aluminum, please ask
table saw (N51 only)- wood/plywood/mdf, Masonite, plastic. No foam, no plastic, no wax. Extensive training required for this machine
Jointer/planer (N51 only) - solid wood only. Extensive training required for these machines
...Abrasive material is highly destructive to sharp cutting tools, as well as motors, computers, and other machine parts
that need to stay clean to work properly. So, never bring gritty, abrasive material into wood shop rooms. that includes
masonry of any kind, plaster-type material (gypsum/plaster of paris, rockite, portland cement, concrete), powder 3D prints, ...)
Anything that can spark is also big fire risk and cannot be done in a wood shop space. No metal sanding or grinding can
be done in a room where wood dust is created! Steel cannot be worked in a wood shop space, except for low-speed drill
press work with cutting oil, or filing by hand.
As a very general rule of thumb for cutting tools- imagine that the faster a cutting tool moves, the more friction there
may be - creating more heat, and higher possibility of catching and moving the material at very high speed. Melting or burning of material
should always be avoided. In a best case scenario, it creates bad results. Usually, it's more dangerous than that.
Some materials need to be cut on machines with high RPM. Some materials need a low RPM. Injury and damage can result if
incompatibilities are overlooked.
3-402, N51-160 courtyard
Plaster-type casting, concrete casting, working with other loose abrasives like sand or gravel.
Other work requiring ventilation may be done in one or both of these spaces - there are large intake vents in the N51 courtyard
that bring outside air straight back into the building - so there are limits to the kinds of work that can be done there for that
reason, as well.
The OMAX waterjet is in 3-402, and cuts sheet material under water using garnet abrasive. This is a messy process,
and somewhat compatible with other processes that use abrasives, which is why they are grouped together in 3-402.
The sandblaster also cuts with abrasive, and so lives in this room.
The spray booth in 3-402 is not meant specifically for work that creates solid particulate dust, but still helps with the dust
from these materials, and should be taken advantage of. The downside is that its filters clog faster, and need changing more often.
We stress this in orientation: the spray booth moves a lot of CFM, but it does not provide enough to make the room work
as part of the booth.
All work requiring ventilation must be done INSIDE the booth, and kept there until the material is
done curing. Also stressed in orientation: all heat and electricity sources must be kept OUTSIDE the booth - 6 feet away,
minimum. These are extremely important incompatibilities that cannot be forgotten.
Some work requiring ventilation (chemical use) also requires prior approval and direct supervision from shop managers. See
"Chemical Use" page for more details.
3-402A - laser cutting, PCB circuit board production, thermoforming (Formech), vinyl cutting, ABS printer, powder printer
This needs to be kept a clean space - the processes done in this room are not compatible with dust and other contamination.
It is true that the powder in the 3DS printer is exactly that kind of material - but it also must stay as clean as possible,
with the powder contained, in order to work correctly. In an ideal world, it would live in its own dry, ventilated room.
The room has much better ventilation than an office/studio space, when the laser cutter system is running - but this also
means that any dust in the air is being sucked through the machines, which they do not like.
3-412 - Jen's office / computer stations, Sindoh printers, metal lathe, Kuka, Intelitek
This room is a mixture of clean space and semi-clean space. The machines can be expected to create only minor amounts of
material shavings, no dust, and never have abrasive material brought in. Ventilation is office-level, so fumes would need
to be dealt with specially.