So I was working on making a laser cut acrylic tabbed boxes with a hinged lid. Made three versions and its still not what I wanted. Material is 9mm clear acrylic, check out the pictures:
Troubles, troubles, troubles! Three versions and I’m still not happy. (Dang!) Where did this go wrong? Oh let me count the ways:
Version 1 : Overriding fatal flaw of this design is the ~1/8th inch gap between the front/back and the left/right sides. Unfortunately I didn’t fix this for version 2. (shakes head) The lid was cracked in shipping for version 1 but no point in re-ordering a broken design. Redesigned the hinge, at 2mm it seemed too thin, updated to be 3mm, changed the shape and made it flush with the back of the box. Didn’t like the tabs and slots where the front and the lid fit together, updated it to have only one.
Version 2: Of all the things I updated, I didn’t fix the gap between the sides, so this design also doesn’t fit flush. Moving the hinge to be flush with the back of the box made the lid no longer fit correctly. It is pushed forward by the thickness of the hinge to the front but there isn’t enough clearance in the front tab and lid slot to take this into account. Back to the drawing board for version 3, fixed the gaps in the side parts and moved the hinge tab to allow the lid to open correctly.
Version 3: Well, all the parts fit flush! (Thank GOD!) But now because the tab is moved into the design, the lid now will fulcrum up and down when opening and closing. I don’t find that appealing. It also requires the hinge to be larger than it needs to be due to this extra up/down movement. So close! (Laugh)
So what did I learn from this? DON’T DESIGN TABBED BOXES WITH ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR! I can’t stress this enough. Trying to mirror features from one side of the design to the other and have them match exactly is a very painful exercise in Illustrator. Its very easy to select a side and adjust it without realizing it thus making the parts not fit together. The hard part is you don’t realize it till you get the design back.
I’ve been working with Autodesk Inventor for a couple of months and this is a great program for this kind of design. It can export DWG designs which can be imported into Adobe Illustrator then exported to EPS format for laser cutting. Inventor also allows the adjustment of material widths to use different materials with the same design. I’ll be coming out with some new designs based on this soon. I’ll provide an updated when that’s completed.