Fabrication

 Get your hands dirty...

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Fabrication covers many techniques that are generally thought of as the main “make” process. This includes types of additive manufacturing like 3D printing, as well as the more familiar subtractive manufacturing techniques that involve cutting, milling and turning actions. What’s new in this general area is the use of computers both in the design phase (computer aided design, or CAD) coupled with the manufacturing phase (computer aided manufacturing, or CAM). 

With CAD/CAM, we can rapidly create designs with software applications, and produce much more complicated and intricate parts that would be difficult (or impossible) to machine manually. Also, once we have the design the way we want it, it can be accurately repeated for as many times as we need with CNC machines.

 

Here again, open source is rapidly advancing capabilities while making them affordable to small businesses and individuals. Open source software for CNC control of machines, such as EMC (now known as EMC2 or LinuxCNC) are actively maintained and available under a free open source license. Even the hardware designs for machines are being released as open source, such as the RepRap 3D printer. The end result is rapid, collaborative innovation that greatly lowers the economic barriers for entry into advanced fabrication techniques.

Some examples of these fabrication machine types that are CNC-capable include:

  • 3D printers
  • Milling machines
  • Lathes
  • Laser cutters
  • Plasma torches
  • Routers