Odds of me getting the major speed increase, CMS platform change – on UrbanSurvival done this weekend? Zero. Reason? Competing priorities which (frankly) are more fun.
This morning we have three “topics from the heart.” All centered around that which we do that makes us human. Other than crows (and a few other animals) humans are differentiated by their abilities of tool use and outcom-visualization.
Our cat Zeus doesn’t play poker well, because he can’t visualize odds, correctly. (I cheat, too, but that’s another tale….)
As with any other genetic mutation, the ‘right course of action’ to survive is to extend our abilities along the lines of the genetic blooper. Cats got ‘short-shuffled’ in math…
Humans own math. Does it lead to Greatness as a species? Or, is it a Darwinian dead-end? In many cases, ‘genetic variations’ (like Microsoft GW-Basic) are transitional tools. Not an end-point for development. But, in order to fully evolve in the direction, MBASIC had to “teach the developer apes” about programming before C# and other languages (side of Activex? Python, then?) could evolve.
We could go down this “Ure’s Darwinian ‘UrbanSurvival of the Fittest’ track all day – because it applies to so much in life (all aspects of life are on development conveyor belts, you see) including computer code, political processes, academic theories, and – oh yeah – this morning’s topic.
Which is? (This post on our Ultra-Make.com website, too.) We will be “dual-purposing several Sunday columns to come. I want to lay out getting into 3D printing. If you’ve been looking for a good intro to 3D printing and how to play on that field, I hope this is it. Send lots of questions!
Evolution of ‘Shops’ and ‘Making’
Before you can fully wrap your head around 3D printing – and begin to internally digest disruptive manufacturing – it’s useful to understand the Darwinian (or developmental) aspects of how Humans ‘creating’ and ‘making’ came about.
We’ll skip over the earliest evolutionary steps: Wrapping up control of fire, then figuring out basic metallurgy, and then serious woodworking. But. you’ll see – on inspection – a nice Darwinian species evolution in all these processes as you look.
As ‘Modern Makers’ it’s all majestic, but the GINORMOUS change has occurred in the home (or residential) workshops primarily from 1900 to now.
The Home Shop Revolution
Over the last 100-years, the home shop has gone through one evolutionary cycle whose highlights included:
- Arrival of “standard power” (110 VAC was not common until the 1920’s and ‘the build’ didn’t complete until the Rural Electrification Administration finished its projects over the years following WWII. Remnants remain as the Rural Utilities Service in the Dept. of Agriculture even now.
- Standard Materials: In the 1940’s, if you went to a lumber yard and ordered a “2-by-4” it was dependent on yard what you would get. A regular “rough-sawn” 2-by-4 is 2″ by 4″. However, the modern measure is 1-1/2″ by 3-1/2″-inches. The evolutionary steps? S1S (sanded one side) and S2S (sanded two sides).
- New Materials: Foremost of which is drywall. As the Wiki on this explains, “Gypsum board evolved between 1910 and 1930 beginning with wrapped board edges. Enter paper facing. In 1910 United States Gypsum Corporation bought Sackett Plaster Board Company and by 1917 introduced Sheetrock. Providing efficiency of installation, it was developed additionally as a measure of fire resistance.” Unlike plaster – which loves lath and rough surfaces, sheetrock likes smooth framing.
- New Tools: Circular (Skil Saws), table saws, shaper tables, and more. Sears Craftsman brand became the de facto home standard. Home brands included the icons: Skil, Craftsman, Wards, King-Seeley, ToolKraft, Black & Decker…
Early Making Was Wood-Oriented
As a process map (we love these!) there were generally only four things going on in the home shop through much of the last century:
Not particularly difficult, is it? This is what a lot of us “seasoned citizens” came up on: Basic shop operations. Two people could frame a small house using 8 or 10-point saws in a single day. Skill levels were high. Mainly in wood.
Today, two framers can knock-out a house 2-3 times the size and more complicated framing (advanced rooflines, hip roofs and such) and not be particularly put-out. Stud lumber is pre-cut to accommodate 8-foot ceilings with headers and footers added, for example. And saws? OMG – Two framers with worm-drive Skil saws is like watching ballet! I mentioned air powered framing nailers, right?
The ‘Making’ Changed
By the end of the Second World War, the home shop became a glorious place where in addition to woodworking, metal working tools showed up.
Beginning in the mid 1930s, Popular Mechanics began ‘How-To’ articles on how to make more metal-working tools. The PM Shop Notes series is still savory reading for committed Makers.
If you’re interested, CD collections can be found on eBay for under $20-bucks. Some of these offer 1905 to 1930 Shop Notes. And single copies of print editions are also available.
What Changed About Making?
- Soldering and Brazing: These became common as the use of copper pipe in lieu of galvanized (or black iron) pipe made “pipefitting” into a measure, cut, join *(by solder or brazing), and finish (usually by having a beer, lol.).
- Gas Welding: The arrival of small portable acetylene welding rigs. I saw my first Victor regulator set-up in 8th grade (before lawyers ran school districts, working people did! Lawyers and Insurance killed the Industrial Arts!). It was love at first sight! Oxyacetylene art has been an often-suppressed lifetime source of pleasure.
- Electric Welding, too: Came to farms first as the iconic Lincoln tombstone looking 220 V arc rig.
- Basic Fiberglass. Just a standard 2-part (resin-hardener) and the glass matts shed like hell and made one itch for weeks, but plastic was evolving into a home- use product.
More Recent Home Shop Tools
Just this short list here, or we could be here all day:
- Additive tools included FDM plastic printers.
- Cutting tools included Plasma Cutters.
- And one of our electronic faves: CNC milling machines.
Which is what the Ultra-Make site is all about…
Modern Making Processes
Unlike the simple measure, cut, join, finish of the previous century, the modern Maker has to navigate through many more complicated decisions:
- The Maker has a “customer” (even if Self).
- The customer has a product vision to render.
- But, in what material(s)?
- And with what kind of ‘making’ constraints?
- Recycled or new materials?
- Is it a “one-off”?
- Is it a “one-time”?
- Will we make more and sell ’em?
At the end of the rat maze, a ‘Making Path’ comes into view:
The Process Orientation
As an extreme simplification: Making a 3D project consists of:
- Defining a product.
- Getting a design as a stereolithography file (.STL)
- Then you “slice” the .STL file so that your printer can render it correctly.
- Load sliced filed into 3D printer.
- Recheck bed leveling…
- Finish (take off print ‘flashing’) and deliver.
CNC is different:
- You get a design or make one.
- Convert to GRBL Code
The more friendly info is on the Wikipedia page here:
“G-code is a language in which people tell computerized machine tools how to make something. The “how” is defined by G-code instructions provided to a machine controller (industrial computer) that tells the motors where to move, how fast to move, and what path to follow. The two most common situations are that, within a machine tool such as a lathe or mill, a cutting tool is moved according to these instructions through a toolpath cutting away material to leave only the finished workpiece and/or, an unfinished workpiece is precisely positioned in any of up to nine axes.”
Simple! (Well, maybe not, but the learning is the fun…)
There are a million, or so, ins and outs – devil’s always in the details. Just remember, smaller printers can give more accurate prints than big ones. And when comes to printers like so much else in life? You tend to get what you pay for!
What to do next?
I will be “serializing” a couple of 3D machine builds in November on Ultra-Make ( Ender 3 ) ($200-class printer) and in December (Creality CR-10 V2). ($500-class printer)
Long-time reader Ken has finished (99%) his cardboard making project. Turning this box:
Into this bar for a college student in his family:
“Well it’s pretty much done. I just have to attach the tap tower and the watermelon party tap.. and three small pieces of cardboard toast as trim.
The grandson is anxious for it..
I do like how the angry orchard box made a header.. it will hold and gas a divider for six two liter bottles .
The tap tower is simply a document tube.”
Ken is a Magician!
One of the reasons I’ve read so many books on (Disney) Imagineering is that I want to “own” some of their magic. When I happened to get a look at my favorite ride one day *(Pirates of the Caribbean) from an unusual angle – and saw the exterior was just a big white flat-sided, flat-roofed warehouse looking building…. Well, I wanted some of that magic in my home, by God…
Slowly, over time, a “movie set” home appeared inside our old “trailer in the woods.” The main thing, as co-conspiring wife Elaine puts it: “We want to live in a home where every room transports you to a different mental space…”
The only obstacle – ever – is that most people don’t challenge the idea of “living in a box.” Which is why we have a Trader Vic’s themed dining room while most people eat in a box. Reeds and rum, thanks.
Even the outside of my office has been “themed” as it occurred to me:
Quirky, did you say??? We like quirky….quirky is part of “the magic!”
Quirky is hard to put into words. It’s a cuing system that tells the brain “Hey, this is somewhere ELSE….”
In small doses of cuing, it’s “interior design.” In larger doses, it becomes immersive. And that’s what we like – immersed. We can’t age if we’re not here, can we?
I’m starting to collect “design axioms” because when people begin to design things intending to render in 3D, they often don’t get designs perfect.
Since a printed (bought online) center ham radio antenna insulator failed in the winds this week, I found my second design axiom:
“Extreme caution using light “infill” in structural prints.”
The only other design axiom (this was from Pappy back in the day) which has saved my bacon uncountable times?
“Design so fasteners can Fail.”
This is why you ALWAYS put drywall ceilings in FIRST if you’re a serious Maker. So if there’s drywall screw fastener failures, the ceiling joint will be held up by the wall-mounted sheet. (The ceiling overlaps).
This kind of thinking is SO obvious, but it’s why some drywall looks like shit in 20 years – all crappy joints. While other looking tight as ever…
If you have design axioms, please post them as a comment…
Off to fix and “too much 10% infill in the wrong place error” and get a ham radio antenna up.
Write when you make something – even if it’s only money,