Recently, we were treated to a visit from middle-school age tech club members from two different schools in our neighborhood in the Mission. After the students got a full tour of the machine shop and environs from Ezra and Danielle, we showed them some projects we’d made on the Othermill.
As a fun project to really illustrate them what a mill, and what the Othermill in particular, does, we made individual name tags for everyone.
This project gave us a chance to personalize the students' experience and give them something to take home. It also provided a chance to really put the Othermill through its paces. For the name tags, we used pre-cut and drilled two-layer engraving plastic blanks, and did the cutting with a 90-degree 1/8th-inch shank half-round engraving bit.
The students learned that in order to machine something successfully, you need the software to run without a hitch, to set the machine to cut perfectly, and the human operator to understand the process and all the variables involved. They also learned that another name for “iterative learning process” is “doing something over and over and over again until it works.”
To make the name tags, it took 38 tries doing exactly the same thing, over and over again, the day before the kids visited. Some tries were perfect, some catastrophic, but all of them got us slightly closer to our lovely finished product. We took lots of notes, filed a couple of bug reports, revised CAD files, and delighted in the result. The whole process helped us make tiny improvements to Otherplan and the workflow for Othermill.
It was crazy fun for everyone, and the kids were excited to know that they were just as much a part of our learning process as we were part of theirs.