Monday, November 30, 2015

The Bootstrap Machine Shop

I am in the beginnings of a rather large project to create what I will call the Bootstrap Machine Shop Project.

I have found a open source 3D printer that is very low cost and it is the basis to build a much larger and sophisticated shop. 

Much as the Gingery book series had a series of machines that were all made using the beginning of a DIY lathe and DIY foundry, My project aims to tie together existing designs and plans to lay out a roadmap of sorts to start out with a sub $300USD 3D printer kit and take the budding maker to the point where they have a robust light manufacturing facility.  This facility could then be used to create up to a heavy industrial facility.

The 3D printer kit to start with is very small.  Working area is only 80x80x80mm.  However it is sufficient to build larger machines including those that can work alumium and engineering plastic.  Of which will be strong enough to build heavier machines that can machine steel.

It is like a machine shop seed.

Of course as in all seeds and growing things much study and hard work will be required.  However if one has a wealth of time and the endless library that is the internet, one will be able to create some pretty big stuff.

This tiny machine will be sufficient to build a CNC router that can be in turn used to machine aluminum and make everything from a lathe, higher quality mill, more printers, cnc lasers, auto parts, you name it.

This is not the only 'seed' that one can plant however.  Other machines like CNC routers can be built using hardware store materials like steel pipe, roller bearings and hardware store power tools.  However the tiny 3D printer will speed things up to make some of the more complicated parts.

I will have more photos coming soon.  Suffice to say that it will be ready before Christmas.  I have ordered parts to build 20 units and started fabrication of many of the parts myself.

The idea is to create 20 machines, and have enough profit to build an additional 40 machines along with the purchase of at least one or 2 CNC laser cutters to speed up production and not rely on outside vendors for some critical parts.

So what parts can one build with such a tiny machine?  Essential parts such as stepper motor spacers, bushings, brackets, mounts, cranks, are some examples.

One thing that I have observed is that when times go bad, those who produce real things with real value will survive and thrive. 

Start your own boot strapping project and learn a essential skill while you still have the luxury of a full time job, a full stomach, working internet, ample supply chain and working electricity. 

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