Associated Links

Other websites associated with this blog. ________________________

All Things Plastic?

Feeling rooked?

I am writing this as I think the “blush” of a new love has worn off. The love was infatuation with the process of three-dimensional printing. I truly like using the process but now only for purposes where it makes real sense. Printed plastic parts have a place in many things I like to make. That’s not going away.

I have also made a huge box full of useless plastic junk just because it was possible. Yes, it was fun. But it is still useless junk. I gave most of it to my young granddaughter as “toys” to play with. I think that qualifies me as a “3D printer junkie”.

I reviewed my machine shop and other projects published in my other blogs (left column). Most projects are hobby-class but there are a lot of useful “real” items in the mix. By real, I am meaning that the material used was suitable for the intended use of the item. A gas engine made form metal and “real parts” that can operate. Not a fragile display plastic representation. Also, a manual dexterity skill (assisted my machine power when necessary) was involved with the creation of the item.

The purpose of my home workshop is not simply possessing the finished item. The purpose of my home work shop is to be involved in the total process of creating something tangible from scratch using durable materials and processes not commonly available outside of a machine shop.

A lot (but not all) three-dimensional printing is like running a Star-Trek replicator. Push a button and out pops a desired item. That’s OK when the goal is the item and not the process to create it. The saving grace of my “replicator” is that I now have a very nice process of making things with plastic I can’t make with other processes. The “hard” work is making the proper CAD file to create the print.

There are many uses for printed 3D plastic parts that are not one-piece single items. Plastic parts that can become components in an assembly of other materials. The printer becomes a shop tool

The number one reason I have a home shop and I make things with wood and metal and plastic is because I enjoy the process. My entire life has been the process and not the goal or the result. That’s how I enjoy life. The destination is a target. The enjoyment is in the trip to that target. Printing other people’s files is not my Idea of having fun, unless it makes no sense to re-invent the wheel. That’s when I want the part more than the process to make it. I am OK with that.

I am making a conscious effort to move away from useless fantasy of printing junk plastic, just to watch the machine run. This distancing process started early on, but all CNC has a hypnotizing effect. I consciously break away and go find something more “hands-on” in which to become involved.

The in-shop metal and wood work is all very hands-on creative work. Subtractive machining, even with CNC is very interactive and attentive. More operationally involved than either version of (DLP and FDM) 3D printing I deploy.

Over period of the last 60 years, I built radio control model airplanes and then full-size home-built aircraft as much for the enjoyable process of building them as the fact I could fly them. I love flying but the construction just added so much more to my involvement. Ham radio, computers and CNC are all activities where I build my own machine hardware just because I enjoy making it. Therefore, I totally understand how they all operate. That’s just the way I’m built.

Comments are closed.