2012 Ann Arbor, MI Camp Shopbot

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At the first Detroit Maker Faire we ran into a group that was getting ready to set up a facility that would let people learn how to use a variety of machinery, and then use that same machinery to build their own projects. As they described it it would be like a “health club, only in this case you would become a member and then come in to work on developing  your skills”. They called it the Maker Works and it’s set up just outside the campus of the University of Michigan.So, it seemed like a perfect place to host our Mid West camp this year …

We hadn’t done a full Camp in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area in a few years so this year’s event drew a lot of new comers., as well as some ‘Botters that go back to the cable drive days…

Tom Root of Maker Works started the day off by explaining the concept of their facility, and he gave a tour of the various work areas which ranged from plasma cutters to omnidirectional quilting machines ( and a bunch of steppers, servers, LED’s,and Arduinos all over the place…). They’ve got a 48″by 96″PRS and it gets regular use by their members. Art to industry in one facility…

They sponsor monthly meetings for  CNC users, and inventors,and prototypers,and artists, etc.

We then ran through some general Shopbot questions  with the help of Bill Young and Martha Barbour who were also in the area doing a bunch of Shopbot stuff.  The group was pretty diverse in terms of time using the tool, and so we went over some of the options available for people in software, router bits,  and then hit a little on mechanical maintenance.

Based on feedback we went over the concepts of hold downs, vacuum jigs, and vacuum systems.  A lot of interest in making specialty vacuum jigs for products where repetitive cutting would be done on a production basis.

And there were some “local” questions about sourcing materials in the Ann Arbor area. Plastics for vacuum jigs, Trupan, etc.

We went over some of the ways people have used a machine in their business, and we spoke about a few Shopbotters who have developed a business with the Shopbot being the key to  that business.

I ran through a series of steps that could be done in developing a product which ranged from digitizing or drawing an object, creating cut files for the model, cutting masters from that file, and building molds from the master you have prototyped.

After Lunch we had a good Show and Tell session.

John Cameron showed off some prototype parts he created for his company, Alpine-USA . He designed them after getting some help from David Buchsbaum’s Shopbot classes in Atlanta, GA and the prototype helped his company win a 30 million dollar contract with a major automobile manufacturer!

Lonnie Prince of Prince Propellers showed off two of his beautiful carbon fiber/wood composite props, and explained the steps he goes through to develop, cut, and vacuum bag the final product. Due to the importance of precise performance in his product he has really dialed in his fixturing, and software modelling.

Al Kluge showed us a couple of new carvings. One was a beautiful job of 3D cutting, and the other showed off how clean a V carve design can be with a simple, single,  color.

Jerry Stanek brought in a sample of engraving on a mirror he did with the WidgetWorks diamond drag knife.

Gina Sartor showed us some of her “learning projects” and explained how she’s trying to develop projects for incorporating her desktop into her classroom curriculum.

Harry Martin showed off a very nice piece of inlay he did, and explained the process.

Bill Y. spoke on a few topics ranging from the “extruder tool” in the software to Grant Bailey’s 3D panels/files.

And Martha was on duty answering a bunch of Shopbot questions regarding products, prices, etc.

We’d really like to thank the folks at Maker Works- Tom, Dale, Bob, Thea, & Nick for opening their workshop to us and being such great hosts!

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