Friday, June 7, 2013

Sometimes it doesn't work.

Tonight Isaac and I sat in on a workshop about 3-D printing.  Its amazing to think that I have access to a machine that literally can turn my ideas into reality.  We learned about hardware and software and online service providers.  We busted some myths about the technology and learned some helpful tips.  3-D printers and designers must be patient, we learned.  We observed beautifully designed models that took over 6 hours to build and heard about how college student are quickly getting a decent ROI just by hitting print while they do their homework.  We also learned that sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes, the only way to know that it doesn't  work, is to try it.  And then we tried something that should have worked, something that had already been tried and that had worked before.  People from a broad range of ages, ethnicities, and industries, all ducked, stood on their tip toes, and shuffled all around to catch a glimpse of the real time build.  Teachers were asking questions, engineers were observing cool already printed gadgets, and then it happened.  Imperfections started to appear. It soon became evident that this was a failed build and the efforts were aborted.  Why didn't it work?  Perhaps the wobbly table?  Perhaps some combination of everyone moving and also the wobbly table?  Perhaps the extractor was malfunctioning?  We don't know.  But the build was stopped.  The machine was given time to cool down.  The calibrations were checked.  And the group tried again on a different table.  I don't know if it worked.  The ten year old and I had bailed to partake in Sonic's half price shakes. But we had a great night.  We met some cool folks and learned a whole lot.  And I was reminded that sometimes it just doesn't work.

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