Since my Maslow is mostly built, I have been struggling through the CAD/CAM software game. While I am an engineer, it has been a while since I’ve used any of this software. I am rusty. Nonetheless, through my struggles, I installed FreeCAD as one option, and began looking through documentation, tutorials, and how-to’s. During my course of learning, I realized many of the features of FreeCAD are designed for scalability; something that is very close to what I am currently working on in my job. In all this, I realized how we are much more powerful as a group than as a group of individuals. I thought: if we could use the software in a way that leverages this, we would be much more powerful.
This is stream of consciousnesses, so it might not be entirely clear.
One example, FreeCAD (and maybe other CAD options) supports the use of bodies referenced into parts. This means that one part can be created, and referenced multiple times within an assembly. Further, assemblies of parts can be referenced into other part assemblies. An assembly is created once, and referenced multiple times into a super-assembly (a bigger or more complex widget). FreeCAD documentation discusses this in more detail, but this plays directly into concepts of change management (how changes to parts translate to changes in complex widgets). This concept is extremely powerful in terms of how sustainable and maintainable a complex widget is.
Further, FreeCAD discusses software features which support breaking complex assemblies into multiple model files. This is another concept that is extremely powerful because it enables a complex problem (complex design or assembly of designs) to be solved in parallel, by multiple people simultaneously. Imagine the Maslow community defining a large design project, and delegating pieces of the project to several individual members. The developments of each small piece sum up in an efficient way, into a large design project. If this is done in the right way, it could be quite easy.
Another powerful feature is parameterized models. For example, the Meticulous Z-Axis is a great design, however I have a router that is 3.5" in diameter. That modification would be easily accepted if the Z-Axis was originally designed in a parameterized way. Load the files. Type 3.5" in the “RouterDiameter” field. The geometry updates. Re-export the G-Code. Viola.
All this is summing up to a few simple thoughts.
- There is value in the Maslow community consolidating to one software package. This makes all models and projects more similar, and enables us to work more closely together. It eliminates one obstacle, making projects more transferable, from one individual to another. It reduced the quantity of collective knowledge required within the Maslow community.
- If we work together in the right way, we could deliver substantially more value toward Community Garden items. By leveraging all of the above mentioned software features, we could make items applicable to more people, we could work on larger projects, and the projects we do work on would be more sustainable and easily changed.
- If we do these things, we could consider the Community Garden as a single repository. Imagine a single repository as a library of all things Maslow. Complex elements of the library can be sums of parts referenced from elsewhere in the library. The library can be built by multiple people simultaneously.
I would like to know everyone’s thoughts.
I am sharing these ideas just because I think they are very powerful. I would like to see them applied to Maslow projects for personal reasons, as well as they could help other Maslow owners both present and future.