Sunday, February 16, 2014

Maker Homework: Prepping for My First Visit to a Makerspace (Part 1)


So I've been talking about how I want to be a maker and if you read my review of the Maker Manifesto you will know that access to tools is one of the key components of the makerspace movement. I have basically been spamming the people at Lawrence Creates asking them when I can come and take a tour. They informed me that they have an open house on Tuesday so I am going! I think I have convinced Kara to go as well. Ill talk more about Lawrence Creates after the tour. Today we are talking about tools.

TechShop has a list of tools that they think every TechShop should provide for their members. Lawrence Creates is not TechShop so I don't expect them to have all of these. However, let me go through a few of them to get an idea of what they do. I'm picking the ones that aren't obvious because, hey, I'm learning these things myself.

1. Sand Blasting Cabinet
I really had no clue what this was. It is awesome though and I can already think of times in the past when I would have used something like this. Basically it is a chamber to shoot compressed air and sand at an object to clean it up. The two holes are where you put your hands and there is a spray nozzle inside that you can control. You can remove rust, paint, and really anything that is stuck to a piece of metal that you want to clean up. Apparently the model shown here has a foot trigger because having a trigger on the hand sprayer can get tiring during long sanding sessions. So if they have one with a foot pedal I can sound like a pro, "Oh good it has a pedal, man if you have a long sanding project you need a pedal or your hand will cramp up."

2. Computer controlled vinyl cutter.
This is for Kara. She loves working with vinyl stencils and lettering but is frustrated with the selection of fonts at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Kara also loves stickers so if they have one of these it is going to be a big hit. Basically this machine cuts vinyl into the shape that you provide it on the computer. We have spent hours peeling and placing vinyl lettering and this machine could have printed the exact words we needed all lined up. Amazing!

3. Cold Saw
When I read this it reminded me of the first Spiderman and Bone Saw. This machine should say that when it turns on. If it doesn't I will figure out a way to make it. Ok what is a cold saw? Well as usual I had no clue so here is what I learned. A cold saw is basically a metal cutting saw. It uses oil to help keep the blade and piece you are cutting cool. It looks like people mostly use it to cut metal pipes. When I searched for "cold saw" Google thought perhaps I meant cold sore and so I got a pictures of people's cold sores. When I found the cold saws, to my surprise one company was using a scantly clad woman to model their saws. I guess sex sells even in the industrial tooling industry.

4. Overlock Machine
Yes! I love sewing! I use our sewing machine all the time. But I have always wondered how they got the stitch around the boarded of bags and shirts. We have all seen it we just don't think about the tools needed to create it. That is until you create something yourself. If you are dealing with fabrics I can see how this would be a pretty valuable tool to have.

5.CNC Milling Machine
Ok now we are getting into the big tools. Again I was pretty clueless about this. CNC means "computer numerical control." It is the idea that you can take a 3D image and turn it into computer commands that the machine understands. CNC machines work with all types of mediums. This one happens to cut metal to the exact shape you specify on the computer. I don't have things in mind that would need this but i would love to know how to run this machine. Check out this video if you are curious about what it can do. I have no clue what they are building but who cares! If you need a special metal part you need access to this machine. I don't know if they have one of these but if they do ill report back about how hard they are to learn.

Ok that is part 1. Ill get part two up before I head out on Tuesday. If you are in the area and want to come along let me know. We will be getting there at 7:30.


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