Last October at the NY Maker Faire, 100kGarages collaborated with Josh Worley of Opendesk on an event we named MakeLocal. It took all the steps that go into shopping for a product and having it fabricated locally, specifically for you, and compressed that big-picture concept of local digital manufacturing into a 10’x20′ space. It really got a lot of attention and helped Maker Faire attendees understand what the “New Industrial Revolution” is about, so when our friends from the Autodesk Fusion 360 and Forge teams asked us if we would be interested in participating in their Forge Developer conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco, we realized we had a great partner for another round of the MakeLocal experience.
The sort of fabrication-on-demand that we had done in New York is a big part of the distributed manufacturing story, but another important facet is customizing products so that they are uniquely suited for an individual customer. Since in New York we had taken local manufacturing story through all of the steps from design to product, we decided that at the Forge event we would instead pick one design and work with the Autodesk team to create a customizing interface from within Fusion 360. One of our favorite pieces was the Johann stool, designed in France by designer Johann Aussage of Nouvelle Fabrique, so we decided that it would be the perfect product to use for the Forge event.
Since personalization and customization was the story we were telling this time and not the fabrication of the stools, I pre-cut the stools parts into a stack of 24″ x 30″ x 5/8″ Baltic Birch blanks in my shop, leaving the pieces still held in the sheet with tabs. The 24″ x 36′ cutting area of the Desktop MAX was the perfect size to machine the designs that attendees would create for the seats of their stools. And just like in New York, one of the Shelter 2.0 designs was assembled as a stand-in for a full fabrication shop.
To help pull all the pieces together we had two great partners at Autodesk, Patrick Rainsberry and Brian Ekins. Patrick is a Business Development Manager at Autodesk, working on developing partnerships for the Fusion and Forge platforms, and is passionate about the power of software to make real things. You can see some of Patrick’s projects on his YouTube channel. including this very cool start-to-finish parametric bookcase created in Fusion 360 and fabricated on a ShopBot.
Brian is an API Designer for Autodesk, one of the authors of the Mod the Machine blog, and luckily for us an avid woodworker. Brian created an add-in for Fusion, written in the programming language Python, that created the user interface for customizing the design and creating Sketch data. These scripts also created gcode toolpaths from that Sketch geometry and send those toolpaths directly to the job queue on the Desktop MAX using the new Fabmo API.
We could only do a limited number of the customized stools because of the time the process took, so we duplicated the same process with 2 Handibots in an engraving station. Attendees used the exact same customizations in 3″x4″ badge blanks cut from 1/16″ engraving plastic. A custom vacuum holding jig was created for each Handibot station, using brake bleeder pumps as a simple vacuum source.
Although this was a developer conference with talks on topics like “Building Data Centric Applications on Forge” and “Integration and Extension of a Cloud Security Model within Enterprise systems”, Josh and I were invited to speak on a topic that we are both pretty passionate about, “The Power of Communities for Design and Manufacturing”. It was a great opportunity for us to talk about our experiences with 100kGarages and Opendesk, our thoughts on the future of manufacturing, some of the struggles that we’ve encountered, and how we see the Forge Platform and the developer community becoming a critical part of solving these problems.
We’re really not sure where our work with Fusion and Forge will lead, but are looking forward to more projects with them in the future.