PDA

View Full Version : Philosophical Thought On Machining



mlucek
01-28-2008, 05:22 PM
OK, maybe this is a brain fart thought..... :p

I was machining a small (1.5" o.d.) aluminum flywheel for a steam engine model. 4-straight spokes, simple. I cut the spoke quadrants out using a rotary table on the mill. I then flipped the flywheel over to mill out the other side.

As I was cutting out the center of the flywheel, it's as if the spokes were just there beneath the surface, waiting to be exposed by the removal of the outer layer. Was pretty neat seeing the spokes magically appear as I removed the metal.

Yeah, it's just an obvious thing, but was still a little moment of satisfaction for me seeing my handiwork come out of that hunk of AL.

So my idle thought last nite was - that machining is like sculpting stone or clay or some other medium. Carving away bits and pieces of the medium to expose the inner object that was just waiting to come out.

I vaguely remember some sculpter/artist (Michelangelo ?) saying something like - "... the stone told me what was underneath it ... I just had to remove the outer layer to expose the inner object...."

Is machining as art form - I like to think it is :)

Any similar thoughts ?? Comments ??

Ok, that's deep enough for my little brain right now :D

Back to our regularly scheduled bantering :cool:

Mike

tattoomike68
01-28-2008, 05:29 PM
I have wanted to make an engine cylinder of steel and cut cooling fins then braze the fins up with brass then remachine the fins and have cooling fins that are half brass and half steel.

I think that would look nice.

toastydeath
01-28-2008, 05:41 PM
I always think of machining as a mathematical pursuit rather than an artistic one. Not a knock against those who do, I just have no artistic talent. I don't see the part in the block at all. Just a block of metal that, eventually, will fit the dimensions on the print. I look at all the numbers, not the part.

I prefer to think about the theory and the physics of how to remove the metal in the right places, which I suppose isn't different from your quote functionally, but certainly differs philosophically.

rotate
01-28-2008, 05:50 PM
This reminds me of a story where a child asks a sculpter what he's making. He tells the child to come in few days. When the child returns, the child finds the finished sculpture of a horse, and asks the sculpter, "how did you know that a horse was in there?".

We have this wierd notion of art, where if a master craftsman creates a brass candle holder using handtools then it's a work of art, but if a CNC does it then it's just a product. If it's not "one off" then it's definitely under appreciated as art.

pntrbl
01-28-2008, 06:19 PM
I like to think in terms of "finding" the part I want in a piece of metal. I helps me to avoid the typical noob mistake of cutting too deep ...... which still happens all to often! :)

SP

SGW
01-28-2008, 06:41 PM
There is definitely a certain amount of art to "finding" a part in a casting.

Mcgyver
01-28-2008, 06:49 PM
when a non-artist like manzoni can have a dump in a can and the Tate gallery pays 50,000 pounds for, i say everything i create, including my fingernail clippings is art. :D


We have this wierd notion of art, where if a master craftsman creates a brass candle holder using handtools then it's a work of art, but if a CNC does it then it's just a product. If it's not "one off" then it's definitely under appreciated as art.

that's not a bad dividing line, if can be completely codified, then its not art, but thats just the manufacturing....the design aspect can't be codified and has the potential do emerge as art in some eyes as, many industrial products have done.

Michael Moore
01-28-2008, 07:42 PM
I sometimes find scrap hiding inside the block of metal. I guess I'm not an artist.

cheers,
Michael

tony ennis
01-28-2008, 08:04 PM
How do I sculpt a blurfl? Easy, I just remove everything that doesn't look like a blurfl.

Love,
Michaelangelo

mlucek
01-28-2008, 08:09 PM
I sometimes find scrap hiding inside the block of metal. I guess I'm not an artist.

cheers,
Michael If that's the case, then I'm for sure an arteeeeest .... :rolleyes: better get out my little French beanie :D

steverice
01-28-2008, 08:13 PM
I start with a peice of aluminum (or somthing) then remove what doesnt look like what I want it to be.

Rarely use existing prints, prints come from the evolution of the part.

In France I am called an artist, can't say what they call me here.

s.r.

Tim Clarke
01-28-2008, 08:33 PM
Sure, there's a certain satisfaction we all get when a nice part apperars from a hunk of stock. For some, making parts is strictly a way to keep groceries on the table. The home shop types it's a different story. If there was no pleasure involved with our activities, we would sell our tools and turn our attention to the NFL, or perhaps train poodles in our spare time. Back out to the shop, I'm building a new rip fence for my tablesaw.......

TC

DancingBear
01-28-2008, 08:37 PM
I sometimes think in terms of a part lurking inside a lump of metal. But I'm thinking about the numbers at the same time. You have to, or I do at least.

So is it art or not? I think it boils down to definition. So I reached up and grabbed the Oxford American Dictionary. Here's what it said:

(Quote: )
art /aart/ n. 1 a human creative skill or its application. b work exhibiting this.
(End quote: )

So I'd say, yep, it's art. :D

Walt

BobWarfield
01-28-2008, 08:59 PM
Never is this more clear than with CNC. The software even emphasizes it. You don't need time lapse photography when you can watch a movie of a VMC whittling some crazy complex thing out of a solid chunk of aluminum.

When I work with Rhino3D, my preferred CAD program, I always turn on what they call "ghost" mode. This makes the parts transparent. The act of creating a part in Rhino can sometimes be like machining. You start from some geometric shape that is basic: a cube for example. Then you start "subtracting" other shapes. A hole is a cylinder subtracted from the cube.

Sure feels like the sensation described.

Best,

BW

A.K. Boomer
01-28-2008, 09:19 PM
I do some part time production and some of my own creations, pumped out 1600 brass washers today, I cant see the connection in art and these multitude of washers but Ive had some failed in design 17-4 H900 links that where supposed to be used on my bike cranks that some girl in town is walking around with one on her key chain, it was CNC -- but it was cool looking and she wanted one because of it --- there you go --- art is in the eye of the beholder.

mochinist
01-28-2008, 09:37 PM
I think you would really have a hard time at this trade/hobby/obsession if you weren't at least a little bit artistic. A really complicated fixture or setup is an art in itself.

darryl
01-28-2008, 09:46 PM
There must be some definition of art that sets it apart from creations of useful things, though when it can be said of something that it's a work of art, that implies that there's a fundamentally pleasing aspect to it that doesn't particularly relate to its use, and that it might have more value in that regard than it does in its intended use. So a engine produced in someones home shop could be called art- now we have to add in all manner of 'idea materialized' kind of things and call it art. Ok everyone, everything you've ever made qualifies as art in one sense or another.

Let art be something that hangs on a wall and does nothing except draw your attention to it. Let sculpture be something that is carved from a donor block of material and has to either sit on a low table or on the lawn. Let home shop made tools be tools, and proudly hidden away in drawers, and let 'projects' mean miniature engines, accessories for lathes and mills, and machinery that's functional in its own right.

Let stuff that's machined from a donor block of wood, metal, or plastic not be called a sculpture, and let's not spread confusion by 'machining' clay, 'sculpting' a block of metal, or 'liberating' a beaver from a stick of firewood.

Sure glad we got that all straightened out. :)

A lot of this confusion must have come about because of paint. A person who puts paint on small pieces of paper is a schoolkid, who puts paint on large pieces of paper is a decorator, who puts paint on canvas is an artist, who puts paint on a machine is a manufacturer, who puts paint on houses is a painter, and who puts paint on cars is a body man. :)

Oh, what the heck, call me whatever- I often visualize a finished product of some sort in a piece of scrap or scrounged material, and sometimes I know something's in there, but I dont' know what. Just the other day I made a machine component from a piece of aluminum garage door that I saved. I didn't know at the time that this thing was trapped in there, but sure enough, after I sawed, filed, drilled, tapped, and flycut- there it was!

Sometimes I save a piece because I know what's in there, and in some way I offer it a future life, but I don't let it out for decades. Such is the case with the special cutter that had been locked up in an old table-saw blade for years. Yesterday I found a lighting stand that couldn't get out of that straight piece of channel without my help. I do feel a special sort of 'twang' from being able to free up these various cobbletures from there former prisons. Really- I get a bit more of a charge out of turning something into something else than I do out of turning a piece of store bought material into something.

PaulF
01-28-2008, 10:28 PM
Hi Guys,
I am an artist Black Smith With ABANA.
I have made a Griffin that is on the Globe theater in London England.

I also build one time prototypes for the Navy in underwater vehicles both buoyancy engines and emergency recovery devices.

I will be receiving Feb.14th an artificial aortic valve from MCRI (the ON X).

Look at this thing! It's made of Ti. with a carbon coating.

Ya! that's Art! They told me that when this is in ...I could run a Marathon!

I'm in good shape but a marathon!!!

Well I have to plan my training!
PaulF

Paul Alciatore
01-28-2008, 10:57 PM
Gosh, I thought it was all about making chips. Curly chips. Long chips. Wide chips. Small chips. Hot chips that turn blue. Sharp chips that cut you.

And when it is all over, the guy with the biggest pile of chips wins.

oldtiffie
01-28-2008, 11:03 PM
My shop is a Casino?.

Shame that.

I'm old but I'm not planning on cashing in my chips just yet.

Shaidorsai
01-28-2008, 11:33 PM
I think I saw the following here a while back. It stuck with me. Still Apt:

"When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."
R. Buckminster Fuller

bobw53
01-29-2008, 02:39 AM
Sure, there's a certain satisfaction we all get when a nice part apperars from a hunk of stock. For some, making parts is strictly a way to keep groceries on the table. The home shop types it's a different story. If there was no pleasure involved with our activities, we would sell our tools and turn our attention to the NFL, or perhaps train poodles in our spare time. Back out to the shop, I'm building a new rip fence for my tablesaw.......

TC


Sorry, but I make money doing it, and I only do it because I love it. I know I could make more money, and more reliable money doing something else.

I don't get to make what I want 99.9% of the time, but I do sit here at night (yes, I have a bedroom at the shop), and fondle cool looking parts that I've made. Its fun, sometimes I hate seeing them go, had a really cool valve body ship out today, 5 forgings came in, they needed 4 but would pay us full price for all 5. All 5 where good, I wanted to keep one, it was just a cool part, absolutely beautifully. $950 each + $2100 tooling vs a cool looking part, the $950 won out.

Machining is tough, if you don't like it, you probably aren't going to stay. Its something you get into because it is fun, and IF you can make money at it, even better.

Making/designing your own stuff is fun, but, seldom is it as complex as what some dips**t engineer designed. I could do it 10 times quicker,cheaper and easier, but it wouldn't look as cool.


Its a labor of love, anybody that starts a shop doesn't do it for a paycheck, they do it because they enjoy it. I love making stuff out of metal. I may concentrate more on the dollars and minutes than a homeshop guy, but it doesn't mean I dislike it. I get a charge out of knocking a cycle time down, or finding a tool/technique that will take me from 12minutes to 8.

Its the same thing, the only difference is I get to go to the shop in the morning, and stress about it. You get to go to a job(you get a guaranteed paycheck), then come home and do all the cool stuff that I want to do. I still fondle pretty parts, and appreciate them and brag about them.

I have quite a few drawers full of parts, some are scrap (still pretty) some are good that nobody needed. There are some I will pull out and just flip around in my fingers for hours just because I'm proud of them.

Don't assume that us "pros" are just doing it for a paycheck. I'm sitting here within 50 ft of 6 CNCs(4 mills, 1 lathe, 1 swiss) and 3 manuals(2 crap lathes and a Van Norman), add in all the other crap, 2 forklifts, 3 compressors, 2 presses, 2 ovens, blasting cabinet, hardness tester, granite plates, inspection equipment and other assorted crap. I'm loving it, my dogs barely recognize me, girlfriend hates me, but I get to play with cool stuff.

As for the paycheck, I'm sure people have been here before, Up until today I've only taken $450 the whole month(the 28th), and $443 of that went to credit cards(machines).

Its not all roses but just sitting and fondling cool parts makes it worth it, beats flipping burgers, though at times I think I could make more money flipping burgers.

DickDastardly40
01-29-2008, 07:04 AM
I'm currently making (very slowly) a triple expansion steam engine from plans and scratch materials. The materials are usually bar ends or scrap. I find I have to check carefully to see if a certain part will come out of a particular lump of whatever.

To that end I think you have to be able to see the part or parts within the raw stuff. Is what I make art? I don't think so I'm not artistic and I can't draw without a ruler. I do however like to make stuff.

Al

Your Old Dog
01-29-2008, 07:10 AM
when a non-artist like manzoni can have a dump in a can and the Tate gallery pays 50,000 pounds for, i say everything i create, including my fingernail clippings is art. :D


The art there was not so much in the can but the art of BS when he could convince others that it was art. A lot of art these days is meaningless unless the artist has a few minutes to explain it to you. The art won't stand on it's own.

I don't know if machining is an art or not but I don't think you'd be much of a machinist if you have no ability to be creative. Machinist are more creative in the process then in the result most of the time.

Paul Alciatore
01-29-2008, 10:33 AM
There is art in a good design. It is not just a bunch of dimensions and not always just the first shape that comes to mind. Many devices and machines are elegantly designed and those elegant designs are often more functional than the run-of-the-mill ones. Why else would we spend time making parts and machines look better. Why would we use phrases like "tool porn".

There is definitely art in mechanical design.

andy_b
01-29-2008, 12:40 PM
i consider modern windmills "art". i could watch them all day. i consider old camelback drill presses works of art. i'd have one in the living room if my wife would allow it.
i think the "artist" versus "machinist" came out in the "solve for X" thread. for me, the fact the left side of the circle looked to line up with a vertical line 1.84" from the left side of the taper was close enough, but that's because i'm no machinist. up to this point i have never machined anything from a print, it's all been by eye or by measuring object A and just cutting metal off object B until object A fits in it, or looks like whatever it was i was trying to make. of course, i'm also no artist. :)

andy b.

menace
01-29-2008, 02:20 PM
"Art", is the absense of darkness!

Steve

Richard Hanley
01-29-2008, 08:33 PM
I know that feeling of making something and seeing it take shape as if I were not doing it. its a good feeling . I think it is from trusting a part of us that is not logical. an emotional part? I donít know. I used to make a drawing of a part that I needed and say I wanted this unimportant dimension to be 1/2 inch. When I made the part I followed the drawing and made it as close to .500 as I could. like I were two people. and I was. when I make a part now I sometimes like to cut it out just to look right. put it in the mill vise at an angle that looks good. set the lathe compound without looking at the graduations. band saw it out with out a lay out - with out a line. it takes trust in a part of me that I am not used to using. some times it is fun and turns out well. I made some small spindles - out of brass for a little steam engine . I tried and tried and they looked awful. when I woke in the morning I some how knew to make the part on the wood lathe - out of an old piece of 4 X 4 pine - 10 times larger. I had the basic sizes and I just cut the shape to look good. Then I scaled all the dimensions down and made the part from them. It worked great.
Is something art because it is painted in oil? or sculpted in marble? I bet most of us can see art in a auto hy poid gear box. Or the linkage in a folding bed.
After all dose any one else have any more right to define art then you of I?
Richard

Ed Tipton
01-30-2008, 01:03 AM
I think that the answer lies within the approach to the work. I do not enjoy working from prints or drawings, although there have been times when I have had to do so. For me, it is much more enjoyable to conceive an idea in my mind, and then try to create it using either wood or steel.
If you think of it as a sliding scale, on one end of the spectrum, you have the purely mechanical types who tend to see numbers and dimensions. On the other end, there are the artistic types who tend to work with a more intuitive sense of what they are creating. A few of us would fall into one of the extremes, but most of us would meet somewhere in the middle of that scale. For myself, I find it extremely satisfying to think of design, and then create it from what started out as a simple lump of clay ...so to speak. My dimensions may or may not be technically correct, but if it approaches my concept... then for me...it is a success. If somebody else enjoys it, then that is great, but whether it is appreciated by others or not, I still regard it as a success.
Skill is skill regardless of where it originates, and is worthy of appreciation in it's own right. A craftsman who sees only dimensions and numbers but who works without input from his heart and soul is still a craftsman, but the man who puts his heart and soul into his work has the ability to be an artist regardless of his chosen medium.
I once saw an interview with Vladimere Horowitz. He was a world renowned concert pianist. During the interview, he stated that he could take any piece of music, and play it perfectly. He then said that he seldom did this and that he much preferred to PLAY the piece as he felt is should be played even if it meant making a few mistakes. I think I knew what he meant.:)

TECHSHOP
01-30-2008, 03:11 AM
Back in the day, when "drafting" (nothing to do with racing), mechanical drawing wasn't "art". Not that a "print" isn't a "t'ing of beauty", but there is no "spark" left.

Is The Concept of Interchangable Parts, the "dividing" line between "Art" and "Manufactured"? Isn't the "holy grail" of manufacturing, "sameness"?

And what does a CNC do, but make lots of "perfectly identical" parts? All has been "reduced" to "math" and the outcome made "predicable".

mlucek
01-30-2008, 12:34 PM
Before and after of the "sculpting" on my flywheel :

http://lh4.google.com/ChooChooMike/R6CzVrzdCvI/AAAAAAAAACs/yjq_C5Yw61U/flywheelbeforeafter01.jpg?imgmax=640

It was just waiting inside to be discovered :D

TECHSHOP
01-31-2008, 05:19 AM
Here are some links (all to one place) that "expand the horizon"...

http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/machine-tool-technology.htm

http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/tip_sear.htm

http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/directory/library/subject/21

Oldbrock
02-06-2008, 09:01 PM
mlucek, you struck a chord there. I used to tell my machine shop students," inside this chunk of metal is the object in this drawing. Find it"

mlucek
02-07-2008, 01:37 PM
mlucek, you struck a chord there. I used to tell my machine shop students," inside this chunk of metal is the object in this drawing. Find it"Bingo ! I like that sentence :)

The parts are pretty much machined for my latest model steam engine, little touchup/deburring here and there and maybe some polishing after it all works. I'll start assembling it over the next few days in my spare time. It'll be pretty darn cool to see it working (fingers crossed here) and then I can look at what used to be bar stock and say something similar - "There's an engine in that pile of metals - find it !" :D

Mike