For fun, I started designing some two-dimensional mechanisms with parts that rotate, slide and gear against each other. Ultimately these will be made from laser-cut acrylic, but since I don't have easy access to a laser cutter I would like to find a way to prototype them at home.
I tried using foam board, the kind used for architectural models. This is great because I can cut it accurately with an X-Acto knife or a circle cutting tool, but unfortunately the cut edges don't slide against each other very well - there's too much friction for my design to work.
So I'm wondering if there is another material that would be more suitable. That is:
easy to cut accurately at home
at least a couple of millimetres thick
can be sanded smooth so the edges will slide well against each other
doesn't need any bending strength, since all parts will rest against a flat surface and only move in the XY directions
I don't mind buying tools to cut the material, but I don't have any working space apart from a carpeted living room and a small balcony, so I can't install anything that will take up space or make a mess. Potentially I could use a Dremel or something out on the balcony if that's the right approach, but I'd be a bit worried about the noise.