3D Carving Is More Than Just a Tool, It’s a Community (and a Book)

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3D carving
Editor’s note: This is adapted from Zach Kaplan’s new book, Getting Started with 3D Carving.

We all begin as makers. Every newborn is curious by nature; toddlers explore the world by opening cabinets and dumping out pots and pans. Children let their imaginations run wild playing with things like Lego and other construction toys. That’s where making begins. These days, schools don’t put an emphasis on exercising this part of your brain. Access to the Internet and advancements in technology shift the focus away from learning information and towards gaining knowledge.

Makers believe in the power of community. A community that helps one another, especially when armed with easy-to-use tools, can learn together and change the world. This phenomenon has happened for centuries. Today, learning and change can happen faster than ever before in human history. We can watch videos, instant message, share photos, and answer questions to help one another.

I wrote a book in order to build a community of encouragement and make 3D carving accessible. So far, my company Inventables has introduced free software (Easel), launched affordable X-Carve and Carvey machines, and donated 3D carving machines to schools, libraries, and makerspaces. However, we believe we need to do more. It’s not enough to have access to equipment and software: people need to be inspired and connected to others who are on the same journey. Right now, millions of people don’t have access to 3D carving. Our goal is to provide them access and bring them into our community.

Access means more than just carving. It means exposure to the design process; exercising creativity and imagination; being inspired by projects other people have done; giving encouragement to others in the community; asking questions to the community; designing your own projects; going to a public makerspace to do a carve; and, in some cases, buying your own 3D carving machine.

Every school and every library in the world should have a 3D carving machine. Anyone who wants to learn about digital manufacturing—students, teachers, parents, and the general public—can exercise their creativity if they have access to machines. We are starting with a simple goal: by the end of 2020, we want a 3D carving machine in every school in the USA.

To that end, we committed to President Obama and the White House in 2015 that Inventables would donate a 3D carving machine to one school in every state. We delivered on that promise. This was our way of getting that process started in schools across the country. We still have a long way to go, and we need your help. If you are a teacher, parent, or student who wants a 3D carving machine but doesn’t have the funding, please go to Donors Choose and start a campaign. Tweet your link to @inventables and we’ll help promote it as much as we can.

In writing a book, my aim is to be your guide on the side. You can participate directly in the process. You’ll be the maker of knowledge. You’ll read a little, do some experimentation, and get feedback from everyone else who is reading the book now or read it before you. Books could be interactive in the past. Today, we can use the Internet to work together and learn from one another as a community.

We’re all on this 3D carving journey together. I use the mastery system model: work on a skill until you master it. Take the opportunity to revise your work as frequently as you wish. Spacing out learning sessions makes you more likely to deeply process the information and remember it better and longer. Receive feedback from others in the community. The journey will be filled with success and failure, mistakes and learning.

For each project presented in the book, I worked with a maker from the community. There is a project page on the Inventables website where you can find all the files, materials, and supplementary videos. You can also post your remake of the project. In addition, you can participate in our Maker Challenges so your work becomes a part of our global community.

We have three core values in the community: independence, collaboration, and kindness. In a traditional book, you’d read all about what those values mean. In this book, we’ll do a project together as a community. My hope is you’ll learn what these values mean through experiencing them.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!
Zach Kaplan

Zach Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Inventables. He founded the company in 2002 and bootstrapped it until 2009. A maker his whole life, he is on a mission to ignite digital manufacturing world wide and provide everyone with ambition a way to get started. Named a “modern Leonardo” by the Museum of Science and Industry, his dream is create a world with 2 million digital manufacturers that have raving fans, not customers.

View more articles by Zach Kaplan


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