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I feel prehistoric

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  • I feel prehistoric

    Sometimes I hate CNC.
    Over the past few years my uncle do some lawn ornaments for sale at spring time. I outline some parts out of wood and aluminum so he can handle them on his fret saw. He had good time doing that.

    Now at the landscape strore a clerk can reproduce your pattern or picture with a CNC rig. They can make a thousands parts with more details, mostly perfect in tne same time my uncle can do one with some errors on it.

    No dexterity, no experience , no talent. They learn where to push on some buttons and voila!!!
    My uncle still have fun doing his ornaments. With less reconaissance for the experienced work.

  • #2
    Imagine how the folks who planed boards by hand felt about power planers - or what they though about routers, shapers and jointers vs rabbiting planes.

    I write software for a living; many year ago in school I hand assembled assembly
    instructions into the series of bytes that would get the machine to do what I wanted.... yesterday I wrote code in a few lines of a high level language that literally would have taken weeks to write and assemble by hand. Didn't bother me a bit :-).

    Automation/tool improvements have happened again and again. Focus on the joy of creating things, if that's not too touchy-feely..... and revel in the expansion of your canvas that having the machine do some of the more routine work will bring...

    - Bart
    Bart Smaalders


    • #3
      You are trying to compare something made by a craftsman to something made by a hack. Your uncles work will always be representative of him, whereas CNC parts do not, they take the character of a machine.

      The errors determine the character of a part, knowing that the errors do not change finished product is what comes with experience.


      • #4
        Thats progress for you - has its advantages.
        When I was in research we built a rig that would determine the crytalinity of polymers and a run would take 26hrs the program had to be input by hand 1 byte at a time all in octal, in the end I could read it as if it were in actual words.
        Five years later we bought a machine by Siemans for £330,000($660,000) which could do the same thing in 15 minutes now thats progress. It certainly made the crytalinity experiments a lot faster.
        A lot of work and not needed now, they found an easier way still it was a nice machine anyway.
        I have tools I don't know how to use!!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Luke55
          Now at the landscape strore a clerk can reproduce your pattern or picture with a CNC rig. They can make a thousands parts with more details, mostly perfect in tne same time my uncle can do one with some errors on it.
          People still like hand turned bowls, or carvings made by real people, etc, despite the ability of machines to turn out perfect articles hour after hour. The craftsman will never disappear, although numbers are severely diminished as alternatives to his product emerge.

          The question of why we like 'hand made' stuff, and indeed what 'hand made' even means, is an interesting one. I recommend a read of "The Nature and Art of Workmanship" by David Pye to anybody who's interested in stuff like that. Many woodworkers consider reading his book a turning point in their approach to the craft.


          • #6
            In his novel Diamond Age, Neil Stephenson foresees an era where anything from food to aircraft can be made by "matter compilers", sort of like 3d printers for anything. At the same time there's a thriving culture of hand artisans providing unique goods to the elite classes. It rings true in our age where you can buy a China made lamp at Walmart for $10 or a handmade designer lamp for $10,000.
            Location: Jersey City NJ USA


            • #7
              I now earn my wages making one of a kind parts. I play with homemade CNC and had great respect for my uncle work.
              This morning watching this machine running at the store give me the blues to discover where is the technology now.

              When I put the "gone fishing" sign on my shop door it still means somethings for me


              • #8
                I do a lot of pottery, hand thrown bowls and such.

                There's nothing better than drinking your morning joe out of a cup that you know someone made from nothing but a lump of clay, with their bare hands and a spinning stick.

                It's comforting in a way...can't explain it.


                • #9
                  Where is this "landscape store" that has a cnc machine, and what kind of machine is it? A cnc router?
                  Is this in the USA?

                  I have never heard of this.

                  I am also a big fan of David Pye, and think he has written the definitive book about the subject of craftsmanship, pre-cnc.

                  However, when he wrote the book, he was unaware of the possibilities of current cnc machines, which are much more sophisticated than the manufacturing processes he discusses.

                  I have seen several people recently who are what I would call "post-industrial craftsmen" who use CNC and other very sophisticated tools to make their work.
                  A CNC machine is only a tool- it will only do what the operator or programmer tells it to do. So garbage in means garbage out.
                  I cannot imagine any good original artwork is being produced by a clerk at a landscape store- instead, he is merely an operator, having a machine cut out stored patterns.
                  So the "artist" would be the person who designs those patterns. And the possibilities are infinite.
                  Many of the cnc plasma cutter companies sell "artwork"- its trite, boring, clunky stuff. And the people who make objects using these premade patterns sell their work for ten or twenty bucks.

                  Then, you have somebody like Heath Satow , a friend of mine, who uses the same technology to make sculptures he sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars- the difference is not in the machine- he uses the same CNC technology- its in the brain of the person using the machine.

                  Check out his Denver Zoo Animals.

                  If you do your homework, if you study and think and practice and draw, and create original work, you are in NO danger of being beaten by cruddy clip art from a machine operator.

                  I know a bunch of people like this- and in every case, a real craftsman can get much much more out of a machine or tool than a hack can.

                  Dont blame the tool for its misuse by lazy idiots.


                  • #10
                    The diference is your Uncle produces "Unique One offs" the little imperfections make them unique the CNC machine at the store produces copies identical in every way, every body who buys one of your Uncles products walks away with there own unique product. don't get me wrong the world would come to a stop without CNC, but there will always be a place for the craftsman


                    • #11
                      I think of CNC as another tool. I built a small CNC router and have used it on a number of projects. I made a cribbage board for a friends father for Christmas. I could have made it using other tools but I really enjoyed the process. All things considered, I probably could have made it faster without the CNC. On the other hand, it allowed me to try a few things that would have taken much longer by hand. In the end, the father was thrilled (those are his initials BTW).



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wshelley
                        I think of CNC as another tool. I built a small CNC router and have used it on a number of projects.

                        It does a fine job, very nice.

                        I would like to see pictures or video of the CNC router , I would like to make one myself.


                        • #13
                          I have yet to find that button labeled "push to transfer the part in your mind into metal" on my CNC mill's control. I can remember some bosses who thought that there was a "generate report" button on the computers at work and pressing that was all you needed to do to get a custom report 5 minutes before a meeting.

                          Instead I've got to plan the part (just as you do for manual), plan the workflow (jaydfm), plan the fixturing (jaydfm), do the setup (jaydfm), figure out all the feeds/speeds/DOC for the different tools (not jaydfm since a lot of times on the manual mill I'd just use whatever was handy and speed/slow/change the DOC until it sounded "OK") and THEN I get to figure out how to get all of that into code that the machine can use, which usually means a CAD drawing/model and then time spent with my CAM program.

                          Piece of cake, anyone at the local hardware store can do it.

                          We can do a reductio of "real machinist's/craftsmen . . ." to the point where "real machinists mine and smelt their own oar, and use their teeth to gnaw their own machine tools from lumps of metal". Every new tool usually builds on the tools before it (just as most crafty people build on the knowledge of the crafty people before them).

                          Like Ward, I've had the experience of "I probably could have done this faster on a manual machine than with CNC" because I don't have a big knowledge base for CNC that I can bring to the task. But once I get that first one done, if I want another one (and maybe a few changes) that one gets done a lot quicker, not to mention probably with greater accuracy since I didn't have much luck repeatedly positioning my manual mill to 2-3 tenths.

                          A tool without someone to use it is just a lump of stuff.



                          • #14
                            Michael made several points that really hit the target (I'm still looking for the make me a part button). The learning curve is steep if you start from scratch. Even an "integrated" solution is really a collection of several pieces of software that have to be used to create the final code for the machine. The ability to make a few changes and create another part is one place where the CNC really shines.

                            For me, it is a new hobby unto itself and it looks like it will continue to provide a challenge as well entertainment for a long time. I am also considering making it a supplemental income for retirement.


                            (just for fun, I do have foundry in the backyard but I don't smelt my own ore)


                            • #15

                              I checked out the link you posted, but IMHO, it's no more art than the set of dinner china you buy at the big box store. Its made by a mathemetician, not an artist or artisan.
                              Show me the program that Micheangelo used to program his cnc oilpainting machine. The fact that some will spend big bucks to aquire this kind of stuff, only shows that some folks have more dollars than brain cells. No offense meant.