Meanwhile, there was growing impatience on everyone's part to get back into the analog world. Time to 3D print a MemeMech, 1st as a small scale test and then a larger size of 7x6x1 inches which is big by 3D printer standards. This also was an opportunity to see what the equipment/process could and couldn't do.
Another process aspect of making is about folding the continuing acquisition of new skills into building on old ones. But it's more than that... it involves how to learn on the fly while pushing the envelope on what new skills/equipment/software is met with. Here, expediency becomes part of the mother of invention. Most truly valuable skills and/or processes are difficult to master and have steep learning curves. Those curves are painful, stopping or slowing things down at critical times when there's a kind of rhythm that must be maintained. So looking to add new technique needs to be targeted at the particular work going on and it's here that just enough to get what's needed is key. In other words, mastery of something new isn't the goal. Just get what counts for that moment and building skill will take care of itself as it becomes an ongoing requirement. Of course the best part is that discovery/exploring new process/skills directly impacts the finished work, enhancing it.
But, pushing the envelope comes 1st because it's impossible to know the possible without establishing failure boundaries. FE: If the manual says support structure is required for overhangs in a 3D print- print withOUT the support structure. Fail. Look closely at how that happened and what jumps out at you is- it's partly a gravity thing. OK, try printing without it again, but change the print mode to deposit less material per printhead pass. That's done by setting the printer to a higher resolution. Still Fail, but not nearly as much. Take-aways from actually seeing what happens rather than taking the manual's word for it is huge. The printhead CAN print overhangs if they're connected or contiguous and the scale is right for the material to cool fast enough not to deform. It still can NOT print in thin air (completely unconnected to the last pass). There'll come a time when you need to know exactly where that difference is to create a special effect or figure time savings vs quality or some other thing not even on the horizon right now.