Last week, I gave a talk to Seattle's local Dorkbot contingent. The meeting was awesome: around 90 dorks, all ages and backgrounds, all talking fab. What more could you want? The talk was about the state of the Digital Fabrication Ecosystem today, and I think that this topic is hugely important to the development of Humblefactories in the future, particularly because digital fabrication puts more power in more people's hands. Mark Ganter gave a great talk about his Open3dP powder printing formulas. Willow Brugh also gave a great introduction to Jigsaw Renaissance in Seattle -- you can read more about why she's a maker here. And, Matt Westervelt from Metrix Createspace in Seaettle gave a demo of a Makerbot makerbotting. You can download the slides of the talk in PDF form here (or browse them above), but there are plenty of links that I couldn't include. Read on for a more thorough linkfest and discussion.
The current digifab ecosystem is extensive, and exciting. This excitement come from the ability to make accurate, functional, relatively cheap, multiple objects. Even more exciting, is the ability to share these objects -- the success that any maker has within an open digifab system can immediately be rolled out to as many participants as want it.
Like any ecosystem, digital fabrication can be divided and grouped into a phylogeny of individual technologies for easier undertanding. For our purposes, we will talk about:
- Creation of a digital design
- Translation of that digital file into something fabbable
- Fabrication of that file, where the bytes of the file are replicated in atoms
- Proliferation where the file or object is shared throughout the digifab community.
The following is by no means an exhaustive list, just a jumping off point. Feel free to add additional suggestions or lists in the comments.
2D:Open Source: Inkscape, QCAD
2D: Proprietary: Illustrator, Autocad LT, Eagle CAD, etc.
3D: Mesh: Open Source: Blender, Wings3d, Art of Illusion
3D: Mesh: Proprietary: Rhino3d, 3DS Max, Maya, etc.
3D: Solid: Open: BRL CAD, HeeksCAD
3D: Solid: Proprietary: Solidworks, Proengineer, Solidedge, etc.
3D: Math: Open: OpenSCAD, TopMod, Sage
Cleanup: Open: Meshlab, Blender
Unfolding: Open: Sketchup Unfolder
Unfolding: Proprietary: Lamina Design, Rhino3d
Toolpath Generation: Open: Skeinforge, Pleasant 3D, Sketchup Slicemodeler
2D: Patterning: Ink: Laser Printer, Inkjet Printer
2D: Patterning: Other: CNC Embroidery, Hektor paintbot
2D: Integrating: compu-knitting machine, CNC wire bender
2D: Cutting: Knife: Vinyl cutter, Craftrobo
2D: Cutting: Router: Open PCB cutter, Shopbot, etc.
2D: Cutting: Laser: open laser engraver, cutting laser, metal cutting laser
3D: Carving: Blade: CNC router, CNC mill
3D: Carving: Hot Wire: CNC foam cutter
3D: Layer addition: Sheet: CNC router, CNC mill
3D: Layer Addition: Extrusion: Reprap, Makerbot, Stratasys
3D: Powder Prints: Ink Binder: Z Corp, etc.
3D: Powder Prints: Sintered Binder: Ceramic, Glass, Metal "prints"
3D: Powder Prints: Heat Beam: Selective laser sintering, Candyfab
3D: Light Cure: Stereolithography, Objet printer
3D: Self Assembly: Pipette Robot, DNA origami
Swap Meets: Thingiverse.com, 3dContentCentral.com
Fabbers: Ponoko.com, 100K Garages, Shapezways.com, i.materialise.com
Hacktories: Too many to list. Check out Hackerspaces.org for those near you.