In July of 2014, I was contacted by a group of graduate students from the University of Bridgeport. They were participating in a competition sponsored by NASA called CANSAT. In CANSAT, teams are challenged to design and manufacturing a satellite to ultimately be tested a launch site in Abilene, Texas.
The students reached out to me, as far as I could tell, because they were so busy with their coursework. When their semester finally ended and they had time to finally start building, the University closed down the machine shop for the summer. They messaged the 3D Printing Club’s facebook page and after a brief conversation with the team leader, I invited the group to come to my home machine shop in Greenwich, CT. At the time the garage was very well furnished with all sorts of tools and I welcomed the grad students to use them. I was surprised that they had made it so far through academia without developing a knack for power tools, so I had to intervene a lot!
Because of myself and the 3D printer I utilized for printing their parts short notice, I was able to rapidly iterate and accelerate their design process. Based off my experience with 3D printers and FDM printed parts, I successfully educated the engineering team towards what they needed to do to increase the manufacturability/printability of their design without sacrificing strength.
I was browsing Craigslist one day when I found a 1951 Van Norman milling machine for $500. This was a 2000lb beast of cast iron machinery, but I had to have it.
Unfortunately for me, it was in Long Island. Luckily, my Grandpa had a Ford King Ranch Pickup Truck at the time, and he was willing to give it a stress-test!
After a 2 hour drive we were at our destination and there was a fork-lift dropping this mammoth into the truck.
We tried to drive on the highway with it, but we were terribly scared by the idea of it falling into the cab of the truck, so naturally we fled to the Ferry to Bridgeport.
From there we were in Bridgeport with a giant machine stuck in the bed of this truck. Fortunately my grandfather has a small warehouse for his old cars, and the next door tennet had a forklift! After stalling a few weeks, we had to get this thing from Bridgeport to Old Greenwich without a forklift.
We could drive the truck to my house, but we couldn’t possibly unload the machine off the truck. After some careful thinking, we agreed on renting a truck with a lift gate… We figured that we could load it onto the truck, and when we got it to my house, we could rock the machine to the gate and use movers to get it in the garage. This didn’t go so smoothly, but it did work!