A friend suggested I start an occasional series on cool machines. But since I’m congenitally unable to just show you cool pictures without pontificating, let me tell you first why motors and machines are so cool.
In fact, let Ayn Rand tell you. She was a machine-worshipper from way back. In fact, she was a train-worshipper. “A train,” she said, “has the two great attributes of life, she thought, motion and purpose.” (Mind you, she was talking about the trains that opened up the American continent, not the ones that ride unoccupied around Auckland.).
And machines? Why did she like them?
Why had she always felt that joyous sense of confidence when looking at machines?—she thought. In these giant shapes, two aspects pertaining to the inhuman were radiantly absent: the causeless and the purposeless. Every part of the motors was an embodied answer to "Why?" and "What for?” . . . The motors were a moral code cast in steel.
They are alive, she thought, because they are the physical shape of the action of a living power—of the mind that had been able to grasp the whole of this complexity, to set its purpose, to give it form…
They are alive, she thought, but their soul operates them by remote control. Their soul is in every man who has the capacity to equal this achievement. Should the soul vanish from the earth, the motors would stop, because that is the power which keeps them going—not the oil under the floor under her feet, the oil that would then become primeval ooze again—not the steel cylinders that would become stains of rust on the walls of the caves of shivering savages—the power of a living mind—the power of thought and choice and purpose.
So with that brief yet thoughtful introduction, here’s our first Machine of the Day: a machine that ‘scans and prints’ 3d objects. Basically, it scans a complicated 3-dimensional object or assembly, and then ‘prints’ it out – also in three-dimensions! And already assembled. Every decent workshop needs one of these these beauties to keep its motors going:
NB: Feel free to send me links to your favourite cool machines. I’ll enjoy browsing them, even if I don’t post them all.
UPDATE 1: Just as cool, by the way, is a new machine being sold to architects: a 3d printer that produces solid models and prototypes from 3D CAD files. Send a printer like Colourbox a 3d CAD file, and if you’re architect Pete Bossley out of their printer will pop something like this:
Or even something in full colour. It’s not yet inexpensive enough for every client, but how cool is that!
UPDATE 2: Greig McGill reckons we should take a look at “something a long way behind and with slightly different goals, but quite cool nonetheless -- the RepRap project. Vik Olliver is a kiwi and a really interesting guy to boot,” says Greig.