From: scargo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Feb 06 2002 - 18:59:58 EET
Molly and all,
I was a model maker before CNC milling and RP. I have had an intimate relationship with RP, as it relates to model making, since 1990. Very often a good RP part is enhanced or ruined, by post processing/finishing.
I think it has always been a challenge to find qualified employees to do prototyping (and the finer hand/eye skills, like finishing) and just as hard to find those with the interest and internal motivation to learn through on-the-job training. There is still only Bemidji State University that has a four year program in model making. There are many art schools and universities teaching related skills, or having associate degree programs. As you may be evidencing or sensing, there is a wide range of school experiences to be had out there. Just like businesses, schools have good curriculums and caring teachers who know their stuff, and then there is less.... To me, your question is a little like someone saying the world is losing it's morality and there is more and more evil out there. I'm not sure that is happening and I am not sure that overall craftsmanship is degrading. We all have our own experiences and "take" on it. Things are happening faster and that is creating some new paradigms. It is not all bad that things are at a faster pace.
Schooling, and the workplace, can only go so far to teach and try to instill the qualities that are needed to be a true artisan. Those have to be there to some extent at a basic level before any further progress can be made. At a school level, you should be given a good dose of the basics and then it is up to you to go off in the direction of specialization of your choice and learn it intimately. You may be feeling rushed and impersonalized by the process (and you may have experienced poor instructors) but usually if you want to learn something, you can find a way.
About quality and craftsmanship: fostering the attitude of quality and caring about what you are doing usually has to come from above. You can't just make an edict. It has to be expressed at many levels and be a mentality or "culture" within the company or school. I have seen it all. I think the bigger you get, the harder it is to maintain. I have often wondered if it is possible to maintain a high level of craftsmanship, intimacy, quality and responsiveness if you try and be all things to all people and get over a company size of around 15-20 employees. One downside to the extreme competitiveness and speed expectations of today is that many do not do the quality and follow-through that used to be done. Often this comes back to bite you. It is easy to have the attitude that I must keep chopping and don't have time to stop and sharpen my axe or, if I do more than I have to I will be out of business. This is a very real concern for business owners. Like many true artists, (businesses) who don't compromise, who strive for perfection and do what they do for personal satisfaction, their work is usually sold very cheaply and many starve, but they love what they do.
One other influence is age. When I was younger, I was very idealistic and full of energy. I thought I could do it better, faster and cheaper than those I worked for. Younger students are certainly full of this enthusiasm and idealism. As we get older we become jaded and tire of the fight and (perhaps) fall into mediocrity. We also tend to go up the ladder and influence what goes on below. To find the experienced (senior) manager who still deeply cares and has the zeal (of youth) is unusual. It is a shame that many, when they get to the zenith of their skills, tire of it, or become bored and move on to something else and those talents are not passed down to others. Many artisans are not the best teachers...or communicators.
PS: Hi Lamar! Keep caring!
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://rapid.lpt.fi/rp-ml/
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