The two previous articles on how we have changed our way of thinking when it comes to project building in the electronics field is relevant here. We now find it easier to purchase a completed product, for instance a controller and a switched mode power supply because it is cheaper and neater than a home manufactured product. Even audio amplifiers nowadays is cheaper to buy than put on your list of projects – Chinese products are dirt cheap and mostly good quality stuff. (for the price). Students and engineers are gravitating towards the manufacturing processes, milling machines and lathes where a home builder can now build up almost anything he wants from a table leg to a working internal combustion engine. This is not pie in the sky stuff – this is really happening. 3D printers are making their mark so rapid prototype building has become more accessible and cheaper than before. In many industries we use automation – this has been around since the early 1900’s but with modern technology automation has become even more abundant, we are starting to use skills which our forefathers used, to simplify our daily existence. Circuit building has become more around adding blocks together – embedded systems, input and output devices and the relevant power controllers. We are in fact moving back to the industrial revolution but on a grander scale.
Twenty years ago an A3 plotter would cost you the same as an entry level 3D printer nowadays. A milling machine for a hobbyist can be purchased second hand for about U$2 000 and for a further U$2 000 can be modified to CNC. Hobbyists are doing this even more cheaply. From your automated milling machine hobbyists are now building components for their home built robots. This even includes the servo or stepper motors but with cheap Chinese supply this becomes unnecessary. An entire software package to generate code is available from Mach 3 at about U$100.00.