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A Creative Thought

Just finished mowing my yard, edging, trimming, the whole works. Good aerobic, couple of hours exercise for a 70-year-old male, in the Texas humid 85-degree heat. Far better that the 100 plus degree days we were having.

I am now re-hydrating with a bottle of orange G-Ade thirst quencher and have turned on the computer in my air-conditioned home office, checking emails and making sure the earth is still revolving. Don’t want to miss the eclipse in eleven days or so… The propaganda machine (TV) says it is a first full eclipse in the USA in 99 years but that is BS. Maybe the first that crosses the entire USA.

Who cares? Everyone in the country is going to stop what they are doing to check it out. There will be a few good excuses for some people to miss out.

 Yep, I see the earth is still turning. I can concentrate on other things…

Recently I started thinking about the tools in my workshop. I think I never stop thinking about my workshop for very long. That’s my place of comfort and retreat.

But now I am feeling a bit disturbed about my activities for the last year. I have spent a lot of time developing my skills with fused filament 3D printing as well as doing silver, lost wax casting.

The silver work produces high quality, tangible and artistic items. They are items that have far more real value and much longer expected retention value than plastic printed items. The three-dimensional printing is extremely interesting and addictive, but from day one, I have considered the actual items produced to be second rate. Not capable of becoming a treasured heirloom of great value.

I have a shop full of real machine tools to shape wood and metal into almost anything high quality I desire. I have been spending way too much time melting plastic and making cheap plastic toys.

It’s time for me to swing the “making things” pendulum back to using real machine tools. I am not hinting that I am abandoning making printed plastic “stuff”, that will surely continue. But not to the exclusion of making the really high-quality wood and metal items.

Three-dimensional printing is a great learning and creative system at the hobbyist level. Its real value will be determined by industrial or commercial applications and using materials other than extruded filament plastic. Learning the process is valuable. There is a great future in this type of creative process for those people who develop the ability to create (design) products using the 3D print process. They will become valuable assets to almost every manufacturing design business.  However, just (only) knowing how to operate the printer will become just another low tier manufacturing process skill.

I have already sharpened my design and 3D drawing skills (CAD) because of 3D printing. I have learned to create detailed 3D drawings with Autodesk Fusion 360.  If I can draw it, I can make it. Running the printer is fun but not a good career goal.

That’s why I stress the design part of developing skills in using the process. It’s the product that the process produces that far outweighs the enjoyment of watching the magic of a printing head moving around under CNC control.

Dustin Hoffman character in the movie, “The Graduate” (dates me, doesn’t it?) was told the future was in plastics. That may be true but not in my opinion with the low quality produced by hobby level FFF 3D printers. I am going back to real wood and metal and probably a lot of quality cast silver.

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