I have a vision, seen currently through a mist of uncertainty, of an industry that is exciting and fulfilling, and which brings an important gift to the world, and which will make good money and offer all “stake holders” (I’m old enough to still like the stake-holder concept) wonderful benefits.
The gift is that of the sense of fulfilment that comes from Making.
I’m thinking of the feeling of pride and excitement that a small child has, coming home from school with a shapeless lump of clay, and offers it up and says, “Look, mummy; I made it”. At least up to the moment that mum says, dismissively, “That’s lovely, dear, what is it?”
You may have read “The Power of Making” (if not, get yourself a copy)… that’s where I think this new industry stands, and I believe that facilitating the Power of Making presents great opportunity.
I also believe that 3D printers are a central part of that. A little story …
One of the printers here currently has a spool of bright orange filament loaded. My young grandson, Gabriel, just loves anything orange. To say it’s his favourite colour would be an understatement. So I wondered what we could make him that was orange. Less than 30 minutes later we had a plastic name-plate, “Gabriel Donghi”, in bright orange, with the name in relief, and two very tired blokes, a 30-something Dutch ueber-geek, and me, delighted at what we had conceived, designed, and made in just 30 minutes. That’s the gift, I believe.
Until very recently the gift of the Power of Making was reserved to those with skill and dexterity and artistry running in their veins (or those with skins impervious to criticism).
I’ve always worked with computers because they allow me to produce an apparently polished artefact that shows no sign of the imperfections that I generated along the way. This post will be read and re-read several times before I hit publish, and will be automatically spell-checked. I love that. Without a computer I couldn’t write anything … I couldn’t bear the typos, spelling mistooks, and illegible hand-writing. For me, anything that is computer-controlled that facilitates me in the production of things, like computers currently facilitate my production of words, is a winner.
And it’s a part of my soul that, if I find a route to freedom for some part of my imprisoned self, I’m excited to offer that route to others. Some people see that as generosity of spirit. It isn’t. I just want friends!
And I’m frustrated that, at present, the power of making that digital technology offers the world is only available to geeks.
As an example, there is a totally vital piece of software in 3D printing. It’s the bit that slices up the object into layers, for the printer to print. It’s called SkeinForge. Google it, and read almost anything about SkeinForge. But not for too long. If you are missing the ueber-geek gene from your DNA then reading SkeinForge documentation for more than a few seconds will cause your hair to grow grey and your teeth to fall out!
I believe that if I can deliver the functionality of SkeinForge to world in a way that keeps the world interested, with out changing hair colour or causing expensive dentistry, then we will have a winner.
Oh. Why “Cartesian Robots”? 3D printers are part of a family of devices that basically move backwards and forwards, left and right, and up and down. Measurements in these dimensions are called “Cartesian Coordinates” after René Descartes (Cogito Ergo Sum man: ust shows what living in a bread oven can do for you). These devices can help us with lots of Making: here’s one of my favourites; it sculpts flower-arranging foam, and is made from Lego!
[youtubeV youtubeurl="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX1cO2XhMrg" width "350" height="300" show="yes"]