We were invited to participate in the Philadelphia Tech week activities by the folks at the NextFab Technology Workshop . It’s a great shop space where you can join them as a member, and then get trained to use just about ANY machine you might ever want to work with in THEIR shop ! Everything from artists studios, to a Shopbot Alpha, and even a 5′ by 10′, 5 axis water jet machine to play with !
One of our former Pennsylvania Camp hosts, John Haggerty is now teaching Shopbot classes at Next Fab, and training people in the use of the design software. They have a 4’by 4’alpha which gets quite a bit of use, and at the rate John is planning to hold training classes they’ll need another one soon!
We were welcomed to NextFab by their owner/founder Evan Malone, and he explained the concepts behind developing the work space. He also gave a presentation of the water jet machine which is a pretty imposing piece of equipment! They are building a sizable community quickly.
Then we got into the AM sessions. Lot’s of familiar topics, vacuum hold downs, 3D work, coatings etc. This time we were lucky to have Brady Watson on hand, and he chimed in on a number of topics including the use of the “Brady Vac” which is a vacuum jig that can be used for difficult items.
As the topic of 3D moved towards making molds, John Haggerty stepped up and showed some images of casting work he has done in his shop.
Since we had so many staff on hand we had a general question and answer period just before the lunch break in which Brady, John, Randy Johnson, and myself all fielded questions from the group.
Then it was lunch, followed by a tour of the facilities, and John did a small engraving file for people who had never seen a Shopbot cut before.
We then did “Show and Tell” right after the lunch break.
Dave German showed off a few period pieces he has been building that are used by people holding reenactments of historical events. Even though he’s a sign maker by trade these items are steady sellers…
Janice Smith showed us a couple of plaques she designed and cut that exhibited some clever tool pathing to do very fine detailing.
Ed Anderson ran us through the steps he has taken so far to build a guitar body out of purple heart. It’s for a series of five he intends to build ( one for each branch of the service). We all exchanged some ideas about ways he can do work like this, and everyone wants to SEE the final guitar when it’s completed!
Jeannette DeMaio is finally bouncing back from some physical issues that had her sidelined for awhile, and she brought in a few of her electric violins, both in the construction stage, and finished. Beautifully done instruments!
Brady Watson then did a presentation on digitizing, and scanning. He showed some examples of the work he has been doing, and then answered everyone’s questions about the processes involced.
Randy Johnson followed that up with a talk on some of the projects he has worked on in the past, and explained a few of his techniques. He also did a short session in which he showed some images of the soon to be announced publicly “Handibot” , which is a portable Shopbot that you carry to the job ! More on that in the near future…!
Thanks to the folks at Next Fab for having us at their facility, it was a great place to play for the day…..