At the risk of wearing out a phrase; “It’s a great time to be an Engineer!” Not only an Engineer but any person that is involved or interested in innovation in science and technology. I believe that we are in a perpetual state of revolution of technology. No matter what field of science and technology you choose to explore or contribute, the level of innovation is nothing short of astounding.
Previously I’ve been discussing the engineering process and prototyping… important subjects… dry… but hey, it’s engineering. Not so dry for those of us that live it.
I’d like to thank everyone who has appreciated and contributed to follow-up, discussion and praise. However, I’m going to shift gears and share with you an anecdotal experience that I believe taught me a very important Engineering lesson.
As many of you know, I worked for a major aircraft manufacturer for many years and truly believe that my experiences there made me the engineer I am today. I have many fond memories of those experiences.
Previously we spoke about 3D printers, their promise or lack thereof! I will admit I have been a bit cynical of their reliability, accuracy and actual usefulness. There is absolutely no doubt that 3D printers are here to stay and promise great things for our future. Sadly, for most of us, it still remains in the future. Despite the fact that Adept designs 100’s of parts per month we don’t own a 3D printer and don’t expect to purchase one anytime soon. That’s not to say we don’t utilize rapid manufacturing a great deal. However, by not bringing a single technology in house we are not bound or tempted to fit our process into the single technology we own. Prototyping companies put out a horde of advertising displaying complex assemblies that have been 3D printed in order to entice us towards their machines and services, but beware, (we’ll talk about that a little later). I don’t want to necessarily talk about 3D printers but more about prototyping as a whole. Specifically about when to prototype and when not to prototype, a sort of Shakespearean… “to Prototype or not to Prototype”.
Happy New Year! Please allow me to take this moment to thank you, our readers. We’ve enjoyed your comments and look forward to our exchange in 2015! In today’s post, we will be discussing 3D Printers.
Last year flew by in a flash, while this year commemorates Adept’s 20th anniversary. It seem like just yesterday when we opened our doors to new and exciting projects. A lot has certainly changed in the past 30 years, notably, advances in computer technology coupled with its’ user friendliness has been nothing short of remarkable. Technology once reserved for the elite has quickly becoming mainstream. In 1985, most engineers were surfing the net through 14.4 modems, Creo was known as Pro Engineer and Solidworks was,… nonexistent. So many technologies have advanced, but one technology that has truly coming-of-age is Additive Manufacturing. It may also be familiar to you by its process name, Stereolithography or SLA. Although, Additive Manufacturing is accomplished through a vast number of processes today, not only SLA. Some of the processes are so dialed in they’re capable to fabricating jet engine assemblies.
In my previous post, I mentioned the responsibility of deciding when to transform a virtual prototype into a physical prototype. I may have been a bit premature having this discussion with my readers. As you may be aware, there is a great deal of hype – surrounding “desktop printing” and I may have jumped on that bandwagon a bit hastily. This technology has been around for decades. True, some very industrious individuals brought this technology main stream by offering desktop printers within a price point of a personal computer. However, before you get to play with this new toy, you must have a “solid model”. While there are many tools to create solid models, engineering or designing a solid model is a very different undertaking.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” I’ve always expected a bit more from this quote. If Peter Parker is who claims it, so be it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spiderman movies. What’s not to like about a good guy winning and getting the girl. Unfortunately, in the world of engineering, we are not always fortunate to have the same fate. We are given great power and responsibility, but without the girl (or guy, let’s stay on theme…Spiderman and all). The power to engineer and develop in the virtual world is fantastic and has granted us unimaginable vision and responsibility.