Week 12 update - Winter is Coming...

Well this is either a late week 12 update or an early week 13 update, but in either case there are several important things I need to discuss with MakerSpace users with the hopefully recognizable reference that Winter is Coming.... Here goes:

- Our use of IPA (solvent used to wash SLA parts in the Form Wash) is not sustainable at the current rate. Part of the problem is users are not being attentive enough and are not closing the Form Wash when parts are done. If the lid is left up - which it will be by default - the IPA quickly evaporates. The solution is simple and critical: close the Form Wash when your parts are done! This is extremely important and requires immediate attention by all users.

- One good sides, the proficiency of users is increasing dramatically, but this has some downsides so users need to be more attentive. Some printers are/will be customized for higher end projects. As an example, one of the Ultimakers has a custom print core that should only be used for abrasive filaments (such as Nylon-G). Additionally most casual users should not use these "exotic" materials. Bottom line, look before you print. Many users and printers are now doing advanced projects.

- I have significant other USNA collateral duties that will now occupy a lot of my time so my time in the MakerSpace will go down. I will still check on the MakerSpace frequently but I will not normally be available on any Thursday and will also not be in on as many weekends as I have been. I will still help out and stay engaged on many projects so please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

- Our experience with the new 3D scanner grows continually and my AM class now knows the basics of its use; however, the 3D scanner is still an advanced (and fragile) piece of equipment so it will normally be locked up starting today. If you need to use the scanner, ask me or Marc Bergeron.

- Winter sucks for the MakerSpace and I have a theory that colder and drier conditions result in more print failures (even though humid conditions are bad for filaments). Build plate adhesion is always a problem but history has shown that print failures due to warping or build plate adhesion - mostly on the MakerBots - increase during the Winter. Glue, rafts, and alternate adhesion methods (increase raft size etc.) are the most effective ways to improve build plate adhesion. Also check your parts especially during the first few layers.

- We are going through SLA resins in particular and most filaments at a faster rate than even before which in some ways I view as a good thing (means we have more active users and are learning more). I never want to print limits on prints, but if you are part of a Capstone team or have research needs for materials please check with me or Marc and make sure we have enough materials to get you through this AY. I cannot make any guarantee that we will buy any new materials this AY for lots of reasons that none of you care about.

- Cleanliness. I will not harp on this too much, but I can see the day coming soon when I am going to get very upset... Me and Marc spend the beginning and the end of our day - everyday - cleaning the MakerSpace: sweeping, putting things away, wiping down, etc. I do not expect users to sweep floors or wipe down equipment, but it does help if users put thing away (where they belong), remove completed parts, and help keep the MakerSpace clean on a daily basis. Mondays are particularly bad and that is with me cleaning the MakerSpace usually on Sunday. Please help.

Coming soon to a MakerSpace near you: (1) photo both to capture that cool image of Argonath, (2) large format SLA for that Iron Man mask, (3) Fuse1 - nylon SLS - for those aero bars, and (4) metal! - we have made progress on the Desktop Metal system and I expect that we will make our first MakerSpace metal part in the Spring.

Now for a quick soap box discussion that you may not fully appreciate but I beg that you consider. The MakerSpace is fully supported outside of the normal USNA model, i.e. specifically USNA direct funding is not used to buy a single roll of filament, a single cartridge of resin, a single printer, and not even a single roll of paper towels. Everything in the MakerSpace - and I mean literally everything except the physical walls, electrical power, and water - is managed by a small group of faculty lead by me. So why do you care? Because the MakerSpace is not a guaranteed resource. I/we need YOUR support and YOUR story and YOUR experience to continue this MakerSpace initiative. I know MIDN think they have no voice but that is not true. Your voice may not have much observable direct day-to-day impact but it has tremendous year-to-year impact. If you like the MakerSpace, tell your underclass, tell your friends, tell your Company Officer, tell your academic advisor, tell your research advisor, tell your sponsors, tell anyone that will listen (someone find a way to tell the Dant or the Supe...). I like the MakerSpace. I like 3D printing (duh). I like teaching students. I have no intention of stopping any of these, but things are getting larger than I can support alone, and the amount of bureaucratic red tape I have to go through to keep us going is staggering. Please consider helping. Your predecessors (class 2019 and class 2020 in particular) helped build what we now have. Enough of that boring discussion.

Have a good weekend. Stay safe.

R/CAPT Baker

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