This is my first post in what I expect will become a series detailing some useful small scale manufacturing techniques. Anyone who attempts to bring niche products to market will find that there are unique challenges in producing small product volumes. Many times the low volume makes outsourcing much of the assembly and production work cost prohibitive while the time requirements of using low cost manual techniques in the modest home shop can quickly get out of hand when faced with fulfilling orders of 10, 20, or 50 of your product. If you are working a full time job and building widgets on the side, the prospect of coming home from a full workday and facing another 6 to 10 hours of work before bedtime gets old FAST!
So… what is the inventor and entrepreneur to do? The answer is to get smart (efficient) with our manufacturing techniques and our time. In these posts I will show what that age old adage of “work smarter not harder” looks like when the rubber meets the road and it’s put in to practice. Ok, enough with the preamble and on to the meat of the post.
This turned out to be a handy & simple little tool. I made this a while back, when I was faced with the challenge of trimming down a bunch of labels (about 100) and applying them to these screw terminals. After doing a couple with scissors and being less than satisfied with the results I decided a better way was needed. I messed around with some different widths of tape in the label maker, but anything that was narrow enough to fit the terminals resulted in text that was so small as to be nearly unreadable.
So… I ended up printing two rows of labels on a 3/4″ label tape and building this nifty little custom slicer tool to cut them to a uniform and repeatable width.
This little bugger uses standard utility knife blades, so when they get dull its a just a matter of loosening the machine screws and replacing them.
I think the pictures pretty much explain things here. The blades sandwich in between the machined parts that provide the proper spacing and the whole works is held together with two machine screws. The “guide block” has a groove machined into it to hold the label and the nose of the cutter is machined to run inside this grove to guide it down the label.
The pictures show the labels being cut face up, this however resulted in some light marring on the face. I ended up cutting the labels face down so the cutter runs across the backside and the face remains clean & professional looking. If you don’t have access to machining equipment, I think this idea would work equally well if done with a 3D printer.