As a modelmaker with a decade of work behind me, I felt angry reading Andy Davey’s feature on rapid prototyping (DW 27 February).
As a tool, it’s fantastic, but the attitude towards the ‘old school’ modelmaker was very patronising. Blaming the modelmaker for ‘mutual antipathy’ made me cringe.
Most designers I have worked for/with only consider the form in a visual sense, past that, it’s the modelmaker who discovers whether A fits B, and gets the late nights working everything out if it doesn’t. Saying the modelmaker adds ‘interpretation’ to the model is a little far fetched too.
If I have to make a model of something, I don’t suddenly make it bright pink on a whim, or add an extra button just ‘because I thought it looked better that way’.
Any problem between the modelmaker’s output and the brief of the designer would come down to a lack of communication skills. (Poor modelmaking skills, on the other hand, is not excusable).
It’s the same with a computer: gigo – garbage in equals garbage out. Remember that a computer doesn’t think for itself, or offer an opinion, and a half decent modelmaker will spot flaws or problem areas early on in the project. If not from our own ‘artisan-derived skills’, but because we physically handle the object as an entity and not as a pixel on a computer screen. We may point out flaws in the design, but we don’t make them. We often get the blame for what becomes an open critique of the design.
I suggest Davey tries a different modelmaker if he has been having problems. RP modelmaking is the way forward, but tarring and disregarding an entire industry for one small area of the vast output modelmakers produce is a little heavy handed.
I hope one day I get to sand off that vital millimetre dimension from one of his RP designs as a way to get my own back on behalf of all the modelmakers he’s made feel worthless. Now that’s what I’d call ‘skilled finishing by hand’.