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How to Make Almost Anything (mit.edu)
477 points by skbohra123 on June 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

I was lucky to take this course in 2013, and TA last year. Neil Gershenfeld is a genius. HTMAA is just the tip of the iceberg with all his works.

Every week we had to learn about a different fabrication process, make something and present it in class.

If you guys are into fab labs, I encourage you to visit this page: http://www.fabfoundation.org/fab-labs/

Also, one of the best ways to learn, in my opinion, is by learning from other people's mistakes. That is why every student in the class documents their projects. You guys should definitely view some of the class works! [http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/863.13/people/index.html]

Every year Neil updates the links. You should visit the most recent year to see what's new and relevant. [http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/863.14/]

This is really cool. I also like the "no frills" way it is presented.

I got into making stuff kinda by default when I finished formal training and realized my qualifications were just going to put me in a job doing the same thing over and over again. I taught myself SketchUp (or youtube taught me) and began offering my 3D design services to anyone who would give me the time of day.

I've had the opportunity to work with architects, engineers, designers, basically people from all different fields who make physical things. I have tried to go into every job as a learning opportunity and have learned so much.

I consider my work now as a problem solver for design projects of different kinds and MIT making this kind of information available makes it a lot easier for people like me who use google a bazillion times a day but have to sift through a lot of unreliable info to find the practical method that just allows you to get the job done.

Love it

Yes, this is super cool. I think every engineer should bookmark this link, saves the trouble of visiting 10s or 100s of websites in order to get to relevant material.

Agree. Every engineer and anyone else interested in building. Wish there was a TechShop in London.

Ok, it's not TechShop.. but I'm surprised by how many people don't know about https://london.hackspace.org.uk/

Have you given it a try? There are a significant number of tools available: https://wiki.london.hackspace.org.uk/view/Equipment

A lot of things on that equipment list are inoperable. Is that a normal state of affairs, or is today just a bad day to look at the list?

It's not entirely unusual. I've been a member for about 6 years now and, candidly, it's in a permanent state of disarray. I've not been there in about 7 months as I've been out of London but I don't imagine much has changed.

I would say - don't let it put you off. The Hackspace is more than the sum of its tools. In any event there's a lot there including some fantastic equipment. The out of order equipment is more often a work in progress than it is abandoned kit.

There is also the excellent series of demonstrations and explanations by Dan Gelbart[1] on high-precision techniques, aimed at scientific instrument prototyping.

It kinda presupposes a much better equipped workshop than many will have access to (mainly a waterjet and 100T press, although I don't imagine computerised sheet-metal brakes are especially common either)

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/dgelbart/videos

You can do a surprising amount with just a chop saw (that has a carbide tipped blade, cost $200 or so for the saw and blade), a drill press (another $200 for the press and bits) and a CNC mill (X-carve, about $1300). The above can be used to shape aluminum.

WIth those three tools, you could bootstrap a modern industrial workshop.

I am going to look into this collection, i have been thinking of setting up a small shop but i might go with a bigger CNC that traverses the work area over rack and pinion so i can switch between spindle and plasma cutter. Any suggestions?

Fun fact: that shop is in Dan's basement. He has a beautiful home in Vancouver and has built into the basement a better machine shop than any at UBC. It's a playground.

The amazing part is how commonplace these rapid prototyping tools are now compared to even 5 years ago. With TechShop's and HackerSpaces in almost every major metro area, these tools are more accessible than ever!

(I taught one of the PCB design lectures for a similar class at Georgia Tech being taught by Thad Starner.)

True. A few years ago we still needed to build our own laser cutter[1]. Few places provided laser time and turn-key systems were super expensive. We eventually published the design and more than 200 hacker spaces and universities had the same problem and built the system as well. These days lots of people can find a hacker space with good tools very close to them.

[1] http://www.lasersaur.com/

Indeed! It never ceases to amaze me how easy we have it now. Ten years ago or so, when I first wanted to teach myself how to make PCBs, it took me weeks just to get what I needed to make them at home. There was no way I could afford to make a couple of boards at a professional shop, and there were barely any in my area anyway.

I'm pleased to see how much instructional content is available for fledgling prototypers. I got into the field after reading Shane Colton's [http://scolton.blogspot.ca/] and Charles Guan's [http://www.etotheipiplusone.net/], build reports.

In a similar vein to the post material, Dan Gelbart's youtube course on rapid prototyping is invaluable: https://www.youtube.com/user/dgelbart/videos

One of the best course of my degree (microengineering) was Production Techniques. Basically each group (2 students) was assigned a manufacturing technology and had to write a report and make a talk about the technology, its cost and its limitations.

I think this kind of course is the best way if you want to learn how the stuff around us is really made, or if you want to start a product with kickstarter out something like that.

Do anybody know that kind of course available on OCW, edX or something like that ? I would be happy to provide the documents from my course but they are in french so probably useless around here :/

Nice. If that was all you had to do for a few months, it would be fun. On top of a full MIT course load, it's scary.

I'm sure it'd be worth it. I'm an old old man and just started doing carbon fibre layups (vacuum bagging) .... I've done a lot of normal glass fibre and resin in the past. So Epoxy+carbon+vacuum is ASTONISHING ... it's so strong and so light.

I wish I'd done it years ago.

Makes me want to play with everything on this list!

What are the thermal properties of the carbon fibre? Can they stay composed under automobile tail exhaust temperatures?

No 100% sure... F1 cars are made out of carbon fibre, but the exhaust is usually wrapped in titanium. The engine must get hot, not what temperatures though. You'd need to ask someone far smarter than me :)

Motorcycle exhaust mufflers are commonly made of carbon fibre but it really depends on what you're putting this on and how far down stream from the exhaust it is. I've seen a lot of heat barriers made from carbon on cars and motorcycles. Also hoods are often replaced for carbon in racing and a lot of people have exhaust manifolds directly below them. What usually happens is the carbon gets discolored from the heat but not much worse unless it's directly touching, but that's another can of worms.

I have bookmarked a page by a student with the same name because I was interested in his skinned kayak build.

He made and shared a python script to generate the cross sections for CNC use. Interesting that it was related to this course


I wish high-schools would add some of this stuff to after school programs.

Learning to make circuit boards would have helped me with all my spaghetti wiring I do/did.

Seriously. I think, at least in the U.S., there has been a decline in respect of vocational training. Students on every academic track, from remedial to advanced, in my opinion, should have at least some introduction to building physical things as a core part of education.

Neil Gershenfeld is responsible for two of the best courses at MIT: "How to Make (almost) Anything" and "The Nature of Mathematical Modeling". Neither are compatible with healthy sleep habits, but both are transformative. I took NMM and, to this day, one my biggest regrets is never taking "How to Make (almost) Anything."

Here's an inspiring interview with Neil Gershenfeld regarding Fab Labs and his vision for future fabrication:


There's also a sister class taught in the spring through the Fab Foundation (http://fabacademy.org/) -- it's the same material, but open to anyone that has a Fab lab in their area.

For example, here's AS220 (a lab in Rhode Island)'s page describing the course: http://www.as220.org/fabacademy/

I wish I could take this online.

That's not really the point. The course is designed to pair you up with the equipment/resources and have you actually make stuff. The learning comes from applying the knowledge, not just acquiring it.

Maybe take a look at http://fabacademy.org , which is somewhat an offshoot of (an offshoot of) this course.

This is so, so amazing. I cannot express how much would I want to take this course. Unfortunately, the notes themselve don't have much value for me, as I never experienced anything similar. Video of the actual classes would be something.

Here's a link to last year's class: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/863.14/

This is a senior-level course?

I'm on a really shitty Internet-connection, and this 1-page-per-slide format is hell. :(

Where are the lectures?

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