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Philosophical Thought On Machining

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  • Philosophical Thought On Machining

    OK, maybe this is a brain fart thought.....

    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

    Back to our regularly scheduled bantering

    Mike

  • #2
    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.

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    • #3
      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.

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      • #4
        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.

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        • #5
          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

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          • #6
            There is definitely a certain amount of art to "finding" a part in a casting.
            ----------
            Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
            Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
            Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
            There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
            Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
            Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie

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            • #7
              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.

              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.
              Last edited by Mcgyver; 01-28-2008, 06:52 PM.
              .

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              • #8
                I sometimes find scrap hiding inside the block of metal. I guess I'm not an artist.

                cheers,
                Michael

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                • #9
                  How do I sculpt a blurfl? Easy, I just remove everything that doesn't look like a blurfl.

                  Love,
                  Michaelangelo

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Michael Moore
                    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 .... better get out my little French beanie

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                    • #11
                      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.
                      "the ocean is the ultimate solution"

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                      • #12
                        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

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                        • #13
                          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.

                          Walt

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                          • #14
                            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
                            ---------------------------------------------------

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                            http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCGWizard.html

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                            • #15
                              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.

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