Tell us about yourself.
I am a mechanical engineer and I like to tinker in various areas of engineering and manufacturing in my free time. I find a wide variety of manufacturing methods interesting and I have spent some time working to reproduce a few of these methods in my home shop. Sometimes I buy the needed equipment and other times I make the equipment myself. Some of the manufacturing processes that I have performed in my home shop include welding, metal casting, electric discharge machining (EDM), CNC machining, 3D printing and plastic injection molding.
What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
I will be showing my homemade injection molding machine, homemade arc welder and some samples of items cut using software that I wrote for generating and modifying g-code input files for CNC machines.
What inspires you to make?
When I see an interesting process I like to consider whether or not I would be able to replicate it. I am all the more interested if I have a practical use for the end product. However, not having a practical use for something does not prevent me from taking on a project. Sometimes the project needs to be built before its uses can be fully identified. When I was building my homemade lathe, I was often asked what I was going to use the lathe for. At the time I did not have a defined use for the lathe. I tried to explain that the lathe itself was the project. I still don’t have a specific use for the lathe, but it gets used occasionally for various projects.
What is something you’ve made that you are most proud of, and why?
I am usually most proud of things that I have made recently or that have a long lineage of projects that build upon each other to result in an item. Recently, I made a couple of new Aluminum molds for injection molding at Maker Faire Milwaukee. Both of these molds are shaped like Makey, the maker faire robot. One is a spinning top and the other is a key-chain or zipper pull. These molds and the resulting injection molded items fit both my recently made and lineage criteria. The molds were made using g-code generated by F-Engrave (CNC software that I wrote) and I inject the plastic into the mold using my homemade injection molding machine that was partially built using my homemade Gingery Lathe. The lathe was cast from Aluminum in my home foundry, the crucible I use for casting the Aluminum was made from scrap angle iron that I welded together using my homemade arc welder.
Tell us about one of your failed projects.
One manufacturing process that I have not yet been able to reproduce is friction stir welding of plastic. Friction stir welding is a process in which a spinning metal bit is pushed through a material creating a welded joint. The friction resulting from the spinning bit in contact with the base material causes the two pieces of base material to flow together resulting in a solid joint between the two parts. In my experiments so far I have had results ranging from very weak joints to molten plastic flying across the shop. Up until this point, I would not classify these results as success.
What tips or advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Maker?
I think Jimmy Diresta has given the best advice on this topic in the past. Jimmy suggests making something every day. It doesn’t matter what you make or what you make it out of. If all you have is paper make something with paper. Whenever you make anything you will develop new skills or refine the skills you already have. There are no barriers to making. You just need to work with what you have available.
(Jimmy talked about becoming a maker in the MakingIt podcast, Episode 083 at time: 23:40)
For more info check out the 2016 profile page for Scorch Works.