How to Build Stuff: A Free Short Course on Making Prototypes by Entrepreneur Dan Gelbart

Dan Gelbart, a Vancouver-based electrical engineer, helped create a company called Creo, which Kodak bought in 2005 for roughly $1 billion. If you read Gelbart’s short autobiography here, you can learn about the arc of his career: About how, during his early years, he started working for a tech company that produced high-speed film recorders. And about how Gelbart told the company that he could build a better film recorder, at a cheaper price. And he could do it in the basement of his home. He explains:

After a crash course in optics, I changed the design [of the recorder], but surprisingly managed to deliver a shippable prototype in 12 months with only one person working with me. I had a small metalworking workshop at home, many of the machines home-built, and this allowed me to fabricate most of the parts for the prototype myself.

I now have a wonderful CNC machine shop at home, but I don’t have the boundless enthusiasm of those days. However, I still build all my prototypes myself, finding it to be faster than sending out drawings and waiting for parts.

Above, you can watch what Gelbart calls “A Short Course on How to Build Stuff,” a series of 18 videos designed for students and scientists who want to build prototypes very quickly, using machines that are easy to master. Writes Make magazine, the “series begins by demonstrating how to use and modify his favorite shop tools, and reveals all kinds of enlightening shortcuts that make complicated assemblies trivial to produce. There is a true art to uncomplicating things, a rarity for some engineers.”

You can access the complete playlist here. Individual topics include:

1. Introduction
2. Safety
3. Waterjet
4. Bending
5. Spot Welding
6. Coatings
7. Presswork
8. Enclosures
9. Materials
10. Flexures
11. Non-metals
12. Plastics Forming and Casting
13. Large Structures
14. Brazing
15. Mill and Lathe
16. Machining
17. High Accuracy
18. Design

Gelbart’s course will be added to our collection, 1200 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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