Monday, October 14, 2013

What is a maker-apprentice?

After several rather busy years helping raise 2 young children, I've been fortunate to have gained a couple hours per week of free time as the children have grown. Instead of spending those precious hours in front of the TV, I decided that a new hobby would be more stimulating and rewarding. Since I'm technically-oriented, I looked into a couple hobbies that would allow me connect computer control with the physical world. Two hobbies that made the list were model railroading and 3-D printing. While I've played with model trains as a child and model railroading seems as popular as ever, I chose 3-D printing because it is growing incredibly fast and looking to disrupt traditional mass manufacturing technology.

What is 3-D printing? According to Wikipedia, 3-D printing is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.  This is usually done by depositing a melted substance in a controlled fashion.  As the substance solidifies, an object is created  as you can see in this video and many others on YouTube.

One of the dictionary definitions of "maker" is someone who creates, makes or fabricates something.  The 3-D printing community has embraced this term to refer to anyone who is passionate about learning, using and improving 3-D printing technology.  I have to admit that I have not determined the time or place when the 3-D printing community chose the word "maker" to refer to a member of its community, but this usage is pretty universal and consistent - from Meetup announcements to industry web sites.

An "apprentice" as we all know is someone who is starting out and learning a skill or trade or craft.

So a maker-apprentice is someone who is learning 3-D printing.  Having chosen to learn 3-D printing, I have become the "maker-apprentice".  I am entering the world of 3-D printing as a total newbie and I will attempt to document my experiences in this blog for all would-be maker-apprentices to follow.

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