Minnesota Historical Society [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Ye Olde Toolbox
Once upon a time the toolbox was a box, full of tools. But the modern world has more to offer...
In generations past, a toolbox was a physical object that sat on a workbench in your garage. Today, a Maker's toolbox has become less tangible and is likely to be spread throughout your home. In many ways, this matches the changes in the way we live (mostly in apartments) and the way we create content (using a PC & the Internet). So when we talk about a Maker toolbox, it really covers anything you are using to create and make things.
What better way to kick things off, than to share my own Maker toolbox and get feedback about yours.
- Creating — Most of my ideas are quickly modeled using Tinkercad, tweaked until I'm happy, then final versions are built in 123D or OpenSCAD. Each of these tools are suited for different uses, and I'm yet to encounter an idea that has required more sophisticated software.
- Capturing — I purchased a Kinect for the sole purpose of 3D scanning objects, and with the advancement of software like ReconstructMe, this is becoming an essential tool for me. You'll also find 123D Catch on PC or iPad which can create a 3D model from photos. While they fit a similar purpose, it is useful to know the differences between Photogrammetry and 3D Scanning to understand how the resulting 3D mesh is suited for different purposes. I'll expand more on this in another post.
- Printing — Building and calibrating a RepRap Mendel Prusa has been a project unto itself, but well worth the effort if you want to understand the nuts and bolts of filament extruding 3D Printers. I'm also interested in resin curing 3D Printers like MiiCraft and B9Creator which can be a good choice if you want to print smaller pieces in high resolution with relatively less calibration required.
- Hacking — Hacking/Fixing things is just as important as making things, so I keep a good stock of Sugru and Polymorph on hand. My most successful hack was patching a cracked hard shell suitcase giving it a second life.
- Online — Thingiverse rarely disappoints as a source of awesome things to print or derive new models from. For 3D Printing services in a range of materials I use Shapeways (disclosure: I also contribute to their blog) and I've got a few projects coming up that will use Ponoko for laser cutting. Community is an equally important tool, as it can help just knowing that other makers are willing to contribute expertise when you're stuck on a project. The Makers Stack Exchange is currently in beta, and looks very promising to be the place to ask questions about any type of printers, tools, or software you are using to make things. The public launch is planned for this week and I'll try to send a personal invitation to any commenters on this post.
So, what do you consider to be the essential tools you use for making and what tools are you considering buying next? Feel free to share with us in the comments.