We decided to reuse 2 box aluminum structures that were discarded by the Electrical Engineering Department in order ot make the metal frame for our solar awning. Below are pictures of the original structures.
Next we attempted to use a plasma torch to cut the metal. This ended up being unsuccessful since we kept having trouble grounding the torch, so it wasn’t cutting through the material effectively, especially at the old welds. For reference, a plasma torch works by blowing air out of a nozzle at high speed while an electrical arc is formed from the nozzle to the surface, turning some of the gas to plasma, which is hot enough to cut the metal. Our problem was that we were having trouble creating the electrical arc because of difficulties grounding to the structure.
We then decided to switch to a miter band saw and a sawzall, which was more successful. Below are pictures of the miter band saw and the sawzall, as well as the cut pieces.
We then welded these pieces together to create the curved frame that will support the solar panels and the wooden decorative turtle shell panels.