Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This is pretty darned amazing.

Program lets people design 3-D objects

The Associated Press

(AP) — It's the Internet Revolution meets the Industrial Revolution: a new program that lets people design 3-D objects like car parts and door knobs in metal or plastic then order them online.

Programs for computer-aided design, or CAD, have been around for decades, but eMachineShop.com appears to be the first service that checks whether a design can be made, tells the customer how much it will cost. If the customer wants the item the design goes to a "real world" machine shop for manufacturing.

The key to this enterprise is free design software provided by eMachineShop that aims to be simple enough for hobbyists and other non-engineers.

Prices won't be competitive with Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart won't make ten copper door knobs, then sandblast them for you. EmachineShop charges $143 for that.

The company was created by Jim Lewis, a programmer and self-professed "tinkerer." One previous credit: "the world's hardest sliding block puzzle."

Lewis' software company, Micrologic, designed eMachineShop and contracts with machine shops all over the world to do the manufacturing.

Even though the Midland Park, N.J., company, which has 19 employees, doesn't advertise, it has handled more than 1,000 orders for things like door signs, motorcycle seats, robot frames, car engine covers, guitar plates and camera parts.

The most expensive item it's sold since it began beta testing last year is a $4,011 aluminum, 26-inch diameter part for a high-powered laboratory magnet.

The customers range from large companies that make prototypes to hobbyists including Dennis J. Vegh of Mesa, Ariz., who had the company make metal parts for an airplane he's building after a 1929 design.

"I had to have the pieces made because they do not exist anywhere," Vegh said.

He found the software quick and easy to use. The quality of the finishing has varied a bit between orders, but has been acceptable, he said.

"Being able to sit at you home computer, draw up some parts, submit them and 30 days later they are on your doorstep, all without human contact, is mind-blowing," Vegh says. [...]

The average person might not see what the big deal is with this--it's rare you're going to want to spend a hundred bucks for a doorknob you could buy at the hardware store for a dollar, but for small custom industrial or architectural design shops, or for folks like the guy with the old airplane, this is just phenomenal. It's sorta like Cafe Press, except with large machine tools.

Be sure to check out the page with customer examples.

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