DIY Goes Digital
The oily machines of manufacturing are now being joined by computers and 3D printers. With the advent of simple and affordable 3D design software, access to digital fabrication services and desktop 3D printers, and a global community of makers, the home office is becoming the home factory. Manufacturing, as we know it, is changing.
Here are just a few examples of popular fabrication technologies being used by makers today.
- Laser Cutting. Laser cutting is a form of 2D fabrication-the most commonly used fabrication technique-where a variety of flat sheet materials can be cut to create the outer surface of 3D objects or the 3D volume of an object by stacking or assembling the sheets as intersecting planes.
- CNC Milling. Computer numerical control (CNC) milling is a digitally automatic subtractive fabrication technique by which a simplified volume of material is removed from a solid block using multiaxis milling.
- Rapid Prototyping. Unlike CNC milling, rapid prototyping employs additive rather than subtractive fabrication technology. This technique involves the slicing of the digital model into 2D layers. Each layer’s information is then transferred to the machine that forms the 3D physical product by incrementally adding material layer by layer.
The digital nature of making means it is highly collaborative. Communities of makers span the globe. They can be as basic as like-minded people getting together to talk shop or as revolutionary as makers using others as sounding boards, where feedback results in prototypes, which in turn develop into innovative solutions and commercial products. By sharing ideas, makers are pushing innovation exponentially forward.