Digital Fabrication and Rapid Prototyping with Belinda Dunstan

There was a lot of excitement in the lead up to this talk both from Belinda Dunstan (UNSW Creative Robotics lab) and the RSW community. The similarities between Belinda’s work on how the future of rapid prototyping technologies, open source and the maker-space movement are moulding communities and RSW’s philosophies around community and collaboration align perfectly.

The talk began with a brief explanation of the different types of rapid prototyping machines, from 3D printers to laser cutting and CNC routing. Ade Doyin Ogunniyi, Innovation Curator – Maker from The Michael Crouch Innovation Centre lent us a 3D printer and scanner to display rapid prototyping live while the talk unfolded. Also shared were Belinda’s tutorials on how to use 3D modelling software Form Z that can be found here.

This lead us on to the idea that with new technologies like these, particularly in their early stages, the act of problem-solving and tinkering create innovation. Most importantly it empowers communities to rediscover a world of making things for themselves and sharing ideas with others. The MCIC is one such place that embodies this and that Belinda could not praise enough. They hold all kinds of workshops from Introduction to digital fabrication to a regular Friday Make League to yoga classes and they are pretty much all free (amazing!).

Belinda very passionately illustrated the importance of innovation through play. We would not have the technologies we enjoy today if it had not been for people like Alexander Graham-Bell tinkering away and imagining new possibilities. The world has become increasingly restricting as big companies wrap their inventions and technologies in patents and secrecy. We no longer have the ability to fix our broken things ourselves and instead, have to fork out more of our hard earned cash to these companies in order for them to have monopoly and keep their ideas behind closed doors.

This is where Belinda introduced maker-spaces and open source as the antithesis to the commercial era as we move toward the democratisation of product creation. Her contribution to this era will be to build a café racer using designer Jack Lennie’s soon to be downloadable motorcycle kit. The open source file will be downloadable to anyone and built by anyone (with access to a CNC router and workshop), regardless of skill, with simple tools and can be customised to suit each user. This kind of movement is picking up speed now and projects like the Tinker bike are becoming more prevalent.

RSW is thrilled to be able to support Belinda has she builds her version of the Tinker bike at RSW with support from the MCIC. RSW members are encouraged to be part of this project and we’ll try and keep everyone posted on updates as it moves along. The project will rely on all our expertise in order to see it complete. We will all be learning from one another. Again, this fits in so well with what RSW is all about, bringing people together and nurturing a community. Not to mention we know a little bit about building something from the ground up!