When I was working on the sheet metal post, I had forgotten this article in Make Magazine on how to make a spot welder. Having a spot welder is very useful when working with sheet metal and small parts. It’s also a good start project to develop skills that will help you later.
I want to talk about sheet metal and making sheet metal parts. Now for a variety of reasons the maker community has avoided using sheet metal in their project and that’s a mistake. I see a lot of maker designed machines that use thick plastic panels where I, as designer would have used a formed sheet metal panel.
One hazard for a design is that once it’s released to the world, somebody, especially in Shenzhen is going to try to copy it.
For long time, one of the best catalogs for inspiration to me was the catalog from Small Parts Inc. This was a great small catalog of the kind of stuff that you might need for making. The catalog had small bearings, gears, heat shrink tube, wire and small tubing, along with a ton of the little things that you might need for a project.
This post is going to discuss the important issue of scaling the amount of product you produce. Hackaday had a recent post about OtherMill. But before that here’s a short video from Tested.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated the websites of a bunch of stuff that I’ve used or might need someday. This my file of the engineering odds and ends that I can go to when I need to find something or look for a vendor for a part. It’s a rather eclectic collection, but saving stuff like this can save you time when you are pushing for that special part or machine element. It’s one of my more useful tools. At one time I kept most of these places as paper catalogs, but it’s easier to keep weblinks. So there are the links from my IE favorites folder.
At the least place I worked, a senior VP posted on the company intranet, “Lets talk quality.” Now I came into Big Co, when small Co owned by jackass that I had made the mistake of working for had been purchased by Big Co. Now from what I saw in Big Co’s products, employee meetings and just in the grape vine, quality was a big issue. When an engineering team get a technology award for increasing the yield to 85%, quality is a huge issue. From what I could see, that one laboratory instrument was not an outlier. The general attitude seemed to be that as long as production targets were met and profits looked good, quality was a manufacturing issue and not that important anyway. Sort of the same attitude that all too many companies had in the 1970’s and the same attitude the Japanese Zaibatsu had per WW2. Of course one would think that getting your butt kicked one way or another would change things, but while the Japanese did change, Big Co USA is still stuck on stupid.