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Autodesk Fusion 360 is free for personal use. I found it to be pretty easy to pick up and there are lots of YouTube videos, etc. out there on how to design with 8020 in Fusion.

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Actually, I just checked and it looks like it is $60 per month...
 

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Actually, I just checked and it looks like it is $60 per month...
It's free for personal use. Some features are limited, like editing a design in the context of another design, but I've been able to do a lot with the free version.


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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Actually, I just checked and it looks like it is $60 per month...
That’s for commercial users. Hobby users can use it for free with limitations on the number of files that can be active. It is such a deep program and has way more capabilities than I need for designing a couple of cabinets. I have been watching a few of the YouTube videos on using it but have not been convinced that the learning curve is worth it.
 

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That’s for commercial users. Hobby users can use it for free with limitations on the number of files that can be active. It is such a deep program and has way more capabilities than I need for designing a couple of cabinets. I have been watching a few of the YouTube videos on using it but have not been convinced that the learning curve is worth it.
Try General Cadd for free. The free version is a full feature version but you can not save files. Allows you to learn the program. I could help. Been using it for 20-30 years and have some shortcuts to make Cad easier. I used the program because I had already been using it for years in my business.

Learning a Cad program is too much work for one conversion. Worth it if you simply want to learn a Cad program and are not concerned with the time consuming learning process.
 

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I honestly don't get why the vanlifers are so enamored with 80/20, other than they saw someone else do it.

It's meant as a rapid prototype, or cut first and adjust later style of construction. If you're going to take the time to measure and miter everything to the nth degree, design it out of square tube and save yourself both weight and money (lots of money).
 

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I honestly don't get why the vanlifers are so enamored with 80/20, other than they saw someone else do it.

It's meant as a rapid prototype, or cut first and adjust later style of construction. If you're going to take the time to measure and miter everything to the nth degree, design it out of square tube and save yourself both weight and money (lots of money).
You are correct that 80/20 is more expensive. Also correct that a square tube construction can be lighter. That said 80/20 is an ideal material to use in a van conversion. It allows people with less fabricating skills to build conversions. When it becomes obvious that 80/20 works well for a conversion is when you want to run electrical, plumbing or add a bracket. An attachment point is always available at any location along the extrusion. Easy to connect all the cabinets together to create one large structure that should survive a crash. Want to add a door or a panel becomes easier with attachment locations anywhere along the extrusion.

Both my 80/20 conversions were designed in Cad with detailed drawings of each component. No prototyping. No design changes were made after drawings completed. Where attaching to a wall, the length of the extrusion does not need to be exact due to the slot. 80/20 allows the elimination of cabinet structure at the wall.

For me the extra cost of 80/20 was without a doubt the correct material choice. If I was in the business of building vans and all were identical design, I would use weldments.

One off van conversions are prototypes.
 

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I honestly don't get why the vanlifers are so enamored with 80/20, other than they saw someone else do it. It's meant as a rapid prototype, or cut first and adjust later style of construction.
One off van conversions are prototypes.
Extruded aluminum profiles are used in many industries for the construction of packaging equipment/lines. Of course most of this equipment is also essentially a one off design. In my experience, making equipment in-house (where we had skilled machinists/welders) extruded aluminum profile construction was generally more cost effective than welded because it less labor intensive, can be put into service faster and is easier to add to or modify (usually by technicians the field by) in the future.

Many of these same factors carry over to building structures in a van. IMO depending on the design of the van build and the skill set of the builder, the use of extrusions can be rational choice for building structures in a van. YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I honestly don't get why the vanlifers are so enamored with 80/20, other than they saw someone else do it.

It's meant as a rapid prototype, or cut first and adjust later style of construction. If you're going to take the time to measure and miter everything to the nth degree, design it out of square tube and save yourself both weight and money (lots of money).
I disagree. Not with your obvious distain for everyone you categorize as a "vanlifer", because I won't even go down that path. There's already too much pigeonholing of others going on in this society these days.

I disagree with your assertion that T-slot is more expensive than square tube. You fail to account for the cost of a GTAW (tig) welding setup, usually in the $3,000-$10,000 range including argon supply, and the hours of education necessary to properly join aluminum using AC tig with high frequency start. Do you have a method of joining aluminum that results in a strong and secure connection, but still allows adjustment if design parameters change, that you haven't shared with us?
 

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I disagree. Not with your obvious distain for everyone you categorize as a "vanlifer", because I won't even go down that path. There's already too much pigeonholing of others going on in this society these days.

I disagree with your assertion that T-slot is more expensive than square tube. You fail to account for the cost of a GTAW (tig) welding setup, usually in the $3,000-$10,000 range including argon supply, and the hours of education necessary to properly join aluminum using AC tig with high frequency start. Do you have a method of joining aluminum that results in a strong and secure connection, but still allows adjustment if design parameters change, that you haven't shared with us?
 

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lol, imagine a plastic friction connector holding your fridge in a crash. no thanks.
Two things.

First, the connectors are designed with a spot for fasteners for permanent connections. The plastic connector is likely stronger at the joint than the tube is itself across longer span.

Second, you design around your material choices. Use your imagination, save some money, or don't. Doesn't hurt my wallet. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Two things.

First, the connectors are designed with a spot for fasteners for permanent connections. The plastic connector is likely stronger at the joint than the tube is itself across longer span.

Second, you design around your material choices. Use your imagination, save some money, or don't. Doesn't hurt my wallet. :)
Ok, there may be some use for those on some projects, But the product description says
"It provides a 90 degree flush connection quickly and easily using only a soft-faced mallet to form light-duty yet sturdy builds."
It's the "light duty" that gets me. Look at what Ken does at the 2 minute mark in this video. Rocks the whole van.
That's the kind of strength I'm after and I just don't think giving up the strength to save a few bucks is worth it. I'm into my van somewhere in the $85K range and cabinets are the last major item I've got. So it seems like it's a little too late to be trying to save a buck.:rolleyes:

I try to never get into debates on the internet. It's so hard to win.
 

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Oh, you got me! Absolutely convinced to use a QuickFrame after you note that the actual product is weaker than the part I'm concerned about. lmao

I'd rather have a functioning brain and body than a few hundred dollars in my wallet.
 

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Oh, you got me! Absolutely convinced to use a QuickFrame after you note that the actual product is weaker than the part I'm concerned about. lmao

I'd rather have a functioning brain and body than a few hundred dollars in my wallet.
Don't be so quick to reject everything that challenges your worldview, you might learn something. Saying that square tubing and molded connectors is dangerous and not being able to make the materials work is only proving that can't think beyond what others have put in front of you.

If you don't like the aesthetics, weight, or cost of the final product when designed with X, Y, or Z material, fine, say that, but if you can't figure out a way to do it, that's more a reflection of yourself, not of the materials.
 

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Thanks for the lesson on open mindedness and analytical thinking. I have a PhD and am a tenured professor of mathematics who publishes original research. Pretty sure I'm capable of thinking beyond what others have put in front of me.

🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣

Cool straw man argument though. Enjoying how you are saying that I can't "figure out" how to make an inferior material work when my complaint is that the material doesn't meet my standards for strength.
 

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Thanks for the lesson on open mindedness and analytical thinking. I have a PhD and am a tenured professor of mathematics who publishes original research. Pretty sure I'm capable of thinking beyond what others have put in front of me.

🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣

Cool straw man argument though. Enjoying how you are saying that I can't "figure out" how to make an inferior material work when my complaint is that the material doesn't meet my standards for strength.
I am an old dumb ME without a string of capitol letters after my name but am more than willing to evaluate any idea that might be usable in a build. There are places that the QuickFrame could be a good choice. One would be overhead cabinets and another could be cabinets under a bed platform behind a retaining wall. Certainly be less weight than 80/20.

My build is all 15 series 80/20 that is probably overkill but very easy to build with limited fabrication abilities.
 

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I use paper sketches on graph paper to start the process. I do an isometric view first and don't worry about getting all the dimensions right, just close is good enough at this stage. I do a few sketches until I have something that works. The next steps are a matter of complexity. I can make machine parts in my shop where there are a CNC vertical mill and a CNC gantry router. For my work, and the work on the van, I design and make many of the parts and fitting I need. I also use the full range of fastener methods offered by 80/20 and Faztek. For the next stage of design on something simple, I refine the sketches into three view part diagrams and make parts. If it has more then four parts I go to CAD. I use AutoCAD LT for making three view drawings and detail parts drawings. I have a library of machine jobs that I can run on the CNC that are set up as blocks in CAD. Even with the pencil sketches I will note the CNC programs to run. If the part is complex, or something machined out of block or sheet - I go to Fusion360 and do a full 3D design and then create the 3 -7 operations for the CNC mill.

The contraption below is a frame structure that holds the batteries, inverter/charger, PV & DC/DC charger, and the rest of the high power components in the current build. All series 10 material. For fasteners I use a combination of Anchors, End Clips, and button head bolts in recessed holes into sliders. All of the drawing and design work is a combination of isometric and three view drawings.

My advise to anybody starting with 80/20 - go to Amazon and buy a maker beam kit for $120 and make a model of what you want to build. Going that route you get your hands on the stuff that fastens like 80/20. I learned quite a bit working on a robotics projects with high school kids with the stuff - they used it to model what they built for competitions out of Series 10 material.
 

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The plastic corner connectors may possibly perhaps hold up in a crash. Or they may not, and that’s the point, there is ZERO testing to let you know the upper cabinet behind your head is not going to come apart. They also are not made to be used in tension, only compression or shear. Having witnessed crash tests, the violence of only a 30 mph (certification is not at highway speeds) is staggering. It’s your van to do what you want and I could see those plastic pieces used for things mounted at floor level, but would never consider them above waist level in my van.

For the discussion of aluminum tubing vs 8020, I’m on the welded tubing side. Although I can weld, I pay the local welder to do a cleaner looking job and he charges me by the inch so it’s $35 where three tubes come together. Buying the material through him makes it cost effective.

Going back to the OP, I start with sketches both on the iPad and this old stuff called paper. However, I don’t cut metal till trying a short trip or overnight with a mock-up out of trash wood, furring strips, etc. What looks right on paper sometimes just doesn’t translate when you realize it’s not how you use the thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
The plastic corner connectors may possibly perhaps hold up in a crash. Or they may not, and that’s the point, there is ZERO testing to let you know the upper cabinet behind your head is not going to come apart. They also are not made to be used in tension, only compression or shear. Having witnessed crash tests, the violence of only a 30 mph (certification is not at highway speeds) is staggering. It’s your van to do what you want and I could see those plastic pieces used for things mounted at floor level, but would never consider them above waist level in my van.

For the discussion of aluminum tubing vs 8020, I’m on the welded tubing side. Although I can weld, I pay the local welder to do a cleaner looking job and he charges me by the inch so it’s $35 where three tubes come together. Buying the material through him makes it cost effective.

Going back to the OP, I start with sketches both on the iPad and this old stuff called paper. However, I don’t cut metal till trying a short trip or overnight with a mock-up out of trash wood, furring strips, etc. What looks right on paper sometimes just doesn’t translate when you realize it’s not how you use the thing.
Some of those videos that you posted a while back of the wood cabinets coming apart in the crash tests definitely did it for me. Too many splinters!

I would love to go the welded aluminum route and am always looking for a justifiable reason to get a Miller Dynasty 200, or now the even better Multimatic 220. Space limitations and the lack of enough real reasons to buy them keep stopping me.😢

I think the wood mockup (don't know what the maker beam stuff is) offers the easiest way to pre-visualize the final layout and get some idea of a materials list.
 

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I used that stuff in the last rig. Ended up adding a LOT of "permanent connectors" to make it strong and stable. It seemed great at first but /really/ came loose a lot until it was all screwed and bolted solid. It was a considerable waste of time and energy, though it /may/ have been a few bucks cheaper after all the screws and brackets and all that was done. Never again. 😏
 
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