Monday, April 28, 2014

3D Printing: It's Hammer Time!

Just another day at the office with Dave Dalton, owner of Hammerspace!

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. 
William Butler Yeats

It's exhilarating at times when you get to see how technology is changing to improve our world. One of things I love about what I do is that I get to I venture out into the community and beyond and meet new people who help me learn about new technologies in our digital world. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Dave Dalton, the mastermind behind  Hammerspace today. He completely embodies the whole STEAM initiative through his creative mind and skill friendly approach.

One of the many 3D printers you will see at Hammerspace

Hammerspace Hobby and Community Workshop has been around for about 3 years. It is “a curious space in Brookside where tools and devices of every size are placed for you to use at the exact time they are needed. It’s like a gym for folks who build and create. It’s where you go to exercise your creativity. It’s where you bulk up your knowledge and work out your designs.” You can take a class, become a member, or just pop by and get inspired by what all kinds of people are in there designing and building.

Sound magical? Well it is. 

Think back to school when you wondered, "when am I EVER going to use this ____." Dave shares he uses much of what he learned in many of his classes. He uses trig and geometry daily as he works with spatial awareness and integrates components from the areas of STEAM through projects in this community workspace. He is passionate about the design process and how important it is for all ages to learn how to plan out their creations before just clicking "print". There are many steps before you get to  actually print your 3D object. Dave talks the importance of creating designs collaboratively and how educational it is to actually print multiple parts which all come together to create one product. Manufacturing comes alive and is incredibly exciting when a group of creators work through it all together.

That doesn't mean you can't work alone at Hammerspace and you work with recycled and eco-friendly materials. One creator created this creature below (which resembles an elephant). It was designed and manufactured through 3D printing with the material PLA (poly lactic acid). In our "throw away" society, it is important that we manufacture using biodegradable materials such as PLA which is corn based. It also uses less oil and generates less pollution. Plus, with this type of manufacturing you are only producing what you need, as opposed to mass production: high quantities that create waste. Think about the latest version of an iPhone 5 case, which takes about 6 months to design, make the molding, package and ship out to sit on the shelf for about 3 months. Then usually 1/3 of the cases don't even sell. Money is lost, more garbage to deal with and onto iPhone 6 (which is set to come out this year),where cycle starts again. 

Animal of the Future: 3D printed in this color and with movable parts, all one object (not separate parts).

This all sounds great, but what about real-world application? For example, how is the business world using 3D printing? I talked with David Reid as well today, a Principal at the national award winning Gould Evans architectural firm. He sent this pic to me to give a visual of how 3D printing has an amazing impact on their business. 

Below is an image of an architectural model for the new sanctuary at Church of the Resurrection.  Gould Evans is providing local architectural support to HGA Architects out of Minneapolis.  This is a presentation model they recently generated from a 3D printer – it’s pretty detailed as you can see and includes a removable roof section.

Is this an inside view of the Death Star from Star Wars? No, but it is the future of this world.

David explains that  there are two processes that are useful in the architectural business; 3D printing and laser cutting.  Each has a purpose with different constraints and outcomes.  Because 3D printing lays down layers of plastic, and the quality of plastic varies, careful attention needs to be made to the kinds of shapes one is trying to execute and choose the tools accordingly.  For example, if they are trying to conceptually express the height of a building via articulation of the floor levels, they will opt for a laser cutter as it utilizes bass wood. (If  they attempted this in plastic on a 3D printer, it would have been more delicate and required longer set times to avoid sagging while the plastic was still warm.)

"Don't let the sales gimmickry of 3D printers fool you into thinking you'll save magical amounts of time.  There's a lot of effort required to get the 3D model to a printable form.  But once you do, it's much easier to make modifications from which we can generate alternative design ideas to be evaluated in physical 3D form." 
David Reid, Principal at Gould Evans

Next time you need something or your child asks for a new toy. Think of how you could actually DESIGN, CREATE and BUILD it, and go do it! Head over to Hammerspace and manufacture something YOU can be proud of and then think of way to make it even better. Don't keep filling your pail with useless objects. 

Light a fire and use your mind.

Check out this dad who made his son a prosthetic hand with 3D printing. Unbelievably cool.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing about Hammerspace and owner Dave Dalton. I love to see that there are people who take an idea and create something inspiring for others to share in! Hammerspace seems like an amazing shop, a place where Dave and others truly are lighting a fire, not filling a pail. I took a Philosophy class last year and the professor spent the last half of every class talking about how 3D printers and robots were going to take over the world. I always left class terrified of the potential of technology- could the world really be full of robot people who have 3D printed organs and eat 3D printed meat?! But here I see the other side of those same technologies, the side that allows for creativity, imagination, dreaming, and even a better world (less manufacturing, that is HUGE!).

    I visited the website and was reading about Dave and his wife and how they grew up around tools and big ideas. I had to chuckle because the descriptions of their childhood sounded similar to mine. As a computer engineer and all-around handy guy, my dad was always (and still is) fixing something or reviving some appliance. Duct tape and zip-ties were normal décor around the house (much to my mom’s dismay). I learned how to solder, hammer, change the oil in my car, and weld before I had graduated high school. My dad has a computer graveyard in the basement and when one computer starts to go, he finds the part from a different one. In fact, I just ‘donated’ my old laptop to him last weekend and he was talking about all of the new open-source software he was going to try out on my 8-year-old piece of junk. To my dad, old wires and screens are treasures. Needless to say, my dad would love Hammerspace. Next time he’s in town, I’ll have to take him and we can have some father-daughter bonding. It sounds like a place where his love of computer stuff and my excitement for education/inspiration can meet!