On-Demand Manufacturing Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, March 4 at noon Pacific for the On-Demand Manufacturing Hack Chat with Dan Emery!

The classical recipe for starting a manufacturing enterprise is pretty straightforward: get an idea, attract investors, hire works, buy machines, put it all in a factory, and profit. Things have been this way since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution, and it’s a recipe that has largely given us the world we have today, for better and for worse.

One of the downsides of this model is the need for initial capital to buy the machines and build the factory. Not every idea will attract the kind of money needed to get off the ground, which means that a lot of good ideas never see the light of day. Luckily, though, we live in an age where manufacturing is no longer a monolithic process. You can literally design a product and have it tested, manufactured, and sold without ever taking one shipment of raw materials or buying a single machine other than the computer that makes this magic possible.

As co-founder of Ponoko, Dan Emery is in the thick of this manufacturing revolution. His company capitalizes on the need for laser cutting, whether it be for parts used in rapid prototyping or complete production runs of cut and engraved pieces. Their service is part of a wider ecosystem that covers almost every additive and subtractive manufacturing process, including 3D-printing, CNC machining, PCB manufacturing, and even final assembly and testing, providing new entrepreneur access to tools and processes that would have once required buckets of cash to acquire and put under one roof.

Join us as we sit down with Derek and discuss the current state of on-demand manufacturing and what the future holds for it. We’ll talk about Ponoko’s specific place in this ecosystem, and what role outsourced laser cutting could play in getting your widget to market. We’ll also take a look at how Ponoko got started and how it got where it is today, as well as anything else that comes up.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, March 4 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

Additive + Subtractive = One Powerful Machine

It says it right on the title of the video below: it was bound to happen eventually. It’s only natural that somebody would stick a 3D printer extruder on the business end of a CNC machine. The long-awaited convergence of additive and subtractive manufacturing is here.

OK, that may be overstating things a bit, but we think [Chris DePrisco] is on to something here. Given the considerable investment he’s made in his DIY CNC machine, an enormous vertical machining center that looks a little like a homebrew Bridgeport, it was a no-brainer to take advantage of the huge XYZ stage. Mounting the Titan Aero extruder to the quill required some custom parts; fair warning that the video below is heavy on machining, but it’s not the seven hours of video he streamed when he milled the heated aluminum bed. Skip ahead to about the six-minute mark if you want to see the first prints and how he optimized the setup.

As we watched [Chris]’ video, we were struck by the potential for adding 3D printing to CNC milling machines. What we’d like to see is a setup where the spindle and the extruder work together to build more complex parts. Or maybe a tool-changing CNC that can pick up a spindle, an extruder, and maybe even a laser or plasma cutter head. Now that would be a powerful machine!

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Piana – Musical Synthesis For The Raspberry Pi

For the last 15 years or so, software synths have slowly yet surely replaced those beatboxes, drum machines, and true synthesizers. It’s a loss for old hardware aficionados, but at least everyone with a MacBook is now a musician, amiright?

The Raspberry Pi and Pi2 already have more processing power than a desktop from ’99, so it’s no surprise that all of those classic synths, from a Moog. Yamaha DX, Casio CZ, Linn drum machine, Fairlight, and a mellotron, can all be stuffed into a Pi thanks to the work of [Phil Atkin] and his Raspberry Pi synthesizer.

[Phil]’s efforts to bring audio synthesis to the Pi fall under three techniques: subtractive synthesis, phase distortion synthesis, and sample-based synthesis, something that’s found in everything from Akai MPCs, MacBooks, and that one episode of The Cosby Show. [Phil] is combining all of these techniques into a piece of software that’s capable of running seamlessly on the Pi, giving anyone with a $35 computer a tool that would have been worth several thousand dollars in 1985.

The project is pretty far along, but the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2 has thrown [Phil] for a loop. On one hand, the Pi 2 is much more capable than the original Pi in terms of hardware, and this lends itself to more sounds and a better GUI. On the other hand, there are millions of original Pi 1s out there that still make for exceptional synthesizers. Either way, [Phil]’s work is a great example of how far you can push the Pi with audio work.

Thanks [Wybren] for the tip. Videos below.

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