Go further together

By Dr Lucy Rogers. Posted

Have you heard the quote, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others’? I didn’t think this applied to me – until I was invited to spend time with Rob Ives in his workshop. Rob (robives.com) makes automata and paper crafts, such as flying pigs and skiing dinosaurs, and I have admired his work for years.

Knowing that Rob has a laser cutter, I asked if we could work together on some laser-cut mini mannequins. The 3D-printed mannequins I had made for a dressmaker (hsmag.cc/WobOAB) – took too long to print and I wanted more of them.

As I was trying to figure out how to slice my 3D CAD model for laser cutting, Rob was getting on with some other work. I was getting frustrated at my lack of CAD skills, and was about to give up, when Rob suddenly said, “Google says there’s some software called Slicer for Fusion 360” (hsmag.cc/ixbhBA). Slicer “slices and converts 3D models into 2D patterns that you can cut out of any flat material” – which is exactly what I wanted – better yet, it is free! Why did I not know about this before?

Before long, a waft of burning cardboard permeated the workshop, and laser-cut jigsaw pieces were assembled into 3D models. We both got very excited by the possibilities that this software offers. But I wonder how long it would have taken us to discover it if we had been working alone.

Rob had acquired a CNC router, but hadn’t quite got around to getting it to work properly. It needed to be connected to a PC via a parallel port. Rob had an old PC and we turned it on. It beeped. It beeped some more. Nothing else happened. I took the back off the PC, and poked and blew at stuff. I plugged it all back in. It beeped. We were both about to give up when I videoed the beeping PC, and posted it on Twitter, with a call for help. Two people told me to lift out and reseat the memory modules – which to me sounded a bit like ‘turn it off and on again’. But I respect both of those people, so I followed their instructions. When I switched it on, it made the familiar Windows ‘tune’, and the monitor flickered into life. We had been about to give up on the whole project but, with a little help from our friends on Twitter, we connected the PC to the router. The software took quite a lot more discussions and headbanging – but the CNC router is now up and running.

Although I probably wouldn’t want to do it all of the time, occasionally working with others does provide the push to get out of my current comfort zone, and into amazing new things. Or, as the quote says – to go further.

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