Sunday, November 17, 2013

anodizing workshop: milwaukee makerspace

Michael (HaveBlue) organized an aluminum anodizing workshop at the Milwaukee Makerspace. He put out a call on the members Google Group and the course quickly filled up with interested people who wanted to participate. We had enough interest that we thought we might even do a second session (stay tuned about this). This past Friday, my student SURF students helped me get the materials and supplies together and then Friday night I drove the supplies down to the M-Makerspace and set things up.  Saturday morning I got to the space around 8am and started to prep some pieces of aluminum for the demo. Michael showed up and helped set up tables and supplies. We got started a little after 10am and spent some time discussing additional info that I was going to cover, the anodizing process, and then we headed out to the Metals area to do the demos. I started with some info on aluminum alloys and went into details on working with aluminum. Here are my teaching notes for the day:

Aluminum Anodizing Workshop:
working with aluminum:
aluminum alloys
joining: (cold/heat methods)
finishing: sanding/filing/polishing
etching (non toxic etching solution: using copper sulphate and salt)
etching resists (vinyl, paint stencils, p-n-p)
roller printing
sandblasting resists (vinyl)

anodizing process:
aluminum prep and connections with Tig welding rod
baths: caustic, nitric, sulphuric
anode vs. cathode/ electrode connections

resists post anodizing 
rubber cement
spray paint
p-n-p blue paper
stamping applications
sponge application
brush application
fade application
stripping color

sealing methods:
nickel salt solution

resist removal post sealing:
acetone (spray paint)
lacquer thinner (rubber cement)

final surface finishing:

post anodizing and sealing surface techniques:
laser etching after final surface

Everyone had great questions during the demo and the group seemed to be very engaged. Once we had completed all of the demos, everyone just jumped in and got to work. There was a flurry of activity as each person took the techniques that they were most intrigued by and they each implemented them in the production of their pieces. Since the workshop was full of makers who already have unique skill sets, many of them started using their different skill-sets to develop pieces that they could apply the anodizing process to. It was really cool to see such an active group of workshop participants! Not to mention, everyone was so gracious and welcoming during the entire day. I ran numerous batches of parts through the baths and the members of Milwaukee Makerspace made a ton of things. I left the space around 8:00 after gathering all of the supplies together. Tony, Adam, and Michael helped a ton with clean-up at the end of the day (I owe them for this). I had a terrific time and I can't tell you how great it was to connect with all of the people at Milwaukee Makerspace. 

There are so many interesting people at this space who are addicted to making things and learning new skills. It's infectious to be around people who are always raising the bar for themselves when it comes to gaining new knowledge. This is what academia has the potential to be but fails to become, due to inflated egos, oversight, power grabs, keeping high enrollments, and people clawing their way "to the top". It's a shame we forget the education and learning and focus on absolute results, appearances, and personal gain. Well, after spending a day at Milwaukee Makerspace, I witnessed sharing of knowledge,  encouragement from others, and a an environment that is conducive to actual learning. Sounds like a great place to be...huh? Go check it out. 

Thanks to everyone at Milwaukee Makerspace for your hospitality!

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