I’ve been looking at computer graphics and engineering CAD systems for most of my life. I’ve been a more or less continuous user of CAD systems for over thirty years now and I thought I knew most of how it came about. There have been things I never really understood about how the way things worked in CAD as opposed to how a designer or drafter thinks, but I didn’t think to look into that very deeply.
There is an industrial revolution going on. Like these things tend to go it starts small, in garages. Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s the idea of making things for yourself or repairing things sort of became passe’ for just about everybody. Products became disposable. The electronic kits of my youth from RadioShack and Heathkit went out of business. Most of the hobbies like modelbuilding or trains were replaced by videogames, at least for the kids with an accompanying closure of a good portion of the hobbystores, at least in my area. It looked like DIY was dead.
As I sit here all by myself, I have to wonder how to make this happen. I’m just a designer and mechanical engineer. Do I have the skills I need to make this successful? The better question is do I need the skills to make this happen all by myself? The answer is no. Nobody is an island. Look at it this way. I’m by nature an introvert with not a huge bunch of friends. Yet in my network I have:
I started this blog to share my experience in the design and development of products. So far I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. I’ve been getting distracted by stuff I encounter and writing rants about them. While that’s fun, it’s not what I really wanted to do with this blog. So I’m going to bite the bullet and actually start talking about the product development process. I’m dong this mostly because of Makerbot. I watched the early days and I had to cringe at the way they did things. If you knew what to look for you could tell that they had little experience in how to take their idea and turn it into a manufacturable product. Here’s a picture.
In the late 18th Century and Early 19th Century the US ordnance dept. pursued a long term technical program to achieve part interchangeability. It took most of the 19th Century and a completely different way of looking at Making stuff, but they achieved what has become known as the American system of manufacture. In the 1950’s the defense Dept. under the stress of the cold war, undertook a task that was almost as complicated and revolutionary. Here’s a video of how they were thinking in the 1960’s
Unfortunately, or fortunately computer technology advanced faster than most people expected and machine obsolescence and the needed capital put the US behind the eight ball in the 1980’s. With negative consequences for much of the machine tool industry. On the other hand there are still hundreds of thousands of Bridgeports like that one that the African gentleman had in his hut making parts.