Following on from the last post the largest object the machine could make was 35cm long – however at a cost of nearly £300 it was outside of my budget. However reduce by 10cm to a 25cm long part and the price came down to a more reasonable £116, so that was the size I went for. The object has almost comic properties and was well worth the 7 hours it took to make.
The plastics RP machine is from America and as such defaults to working in inches which surprised me greatly, I assumed that America would have gone metric when we did here in the UK, or before perhaps, but no Derek informs me that they are staunch inch users. In this age of global markets, digital standards and so on, I would have thought that metric would be an industry standard – its quite a relief to know that in today’s increasingly homogenised and digitally based world there is variety and difference in such things are measurements.
I had a conversation with Nathanial at Hethel, we hadn’t met before but he asked about the work i had on the walls. He is doing some research about clusters – and how the east of England has a cluster of High Tech or perhaps High Performance Engineering i cant quite remember the exact term – although its likely to be important in the kind of work he is doing. I put forward an example based on my own research about how in the 1890’s many places in the UK were specialists (this was also a comment from someone in the audience at the 20 group talk) with Redditch near Birmingham being a centre for needle manufacture. Near to these needle factories where also industries which used needles, gloves were made in Worcester for example. I asked Nathaniel if clusters where about manufacturing or knowledge based and he replied both – a mixture of research, suppliers, manufacturing and distribution. So I had a look on the Internet and found a short paper which references Michael Porters account of localised industrial ‘clusters’, taken from his book ‘The Competitive Advantage of Nations’.(1) The report states “Geographical proximity allows interaction and efficient flows of goods, services, ideas, and skills. This yields high levels of productivity growth and rapid rates of innovation in both processes and products.” (2).
It’s interesting to consider these clusters in the current economic climate, in areas of America such as Detroit, the effected has been massive, where workforces, supporting businesses and suppliers have all been hard hit. See www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/03/detroit-motor-city-ford for an interesting portrait from 2008.
1. Local Government Improvement and Development (on-line) Industrial clusters and their implications for local economic policy http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=850729625/08/2008 Accessed online 16/08/2010