Bike Bracket

Bike Carrier Bracket

Motivated by the failure of my plywood prototype bike rack carrier bracket yesterday, I completed a design for a bracket that I hope to print at work when time permits. It looks nothing like my prototype because I wanted a design that would not require a left and right version and also one that would accommodate a wide range of bicycle handlebar grips. Only time will tell if the new design fares better than the wood model.

Catastrophic Failure

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Very pleased with the bike carrier I created for my car, I decided to take my bike into work with me today for a noon ride. Less than 2 minutes into my commute, one of the two handlebar grip brackets failed catastrophically. The plywood I used to build the holders delaminated along a plane containing a wood knot. Fortunately, I had the foresight to add a safety strap to my design which prevented my bike from spilling into traffic. It was my plan all along to replace the rather crude looking prototype wood blocks with an elegant 3D printed part from a MarkForged printer. Looks like I will need to do that sooner rather than later paying particular attention to part strength which is clearly going to be an issue.

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D1 Champions

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Today’s post takes the form of a short article I submitted to the Concord Journal.

In a dramatic come from behind win, the Concord United Over 50 Men’s Soccer Team won the New England Over The Hill Soccer League (NEOTHSL) Division 1 Championship in a penalty kick shoot out this past Sunday in Taunton. Concord trailed the Stoneham Spartans, last year’s champions, by one goal at the half. Minutes into the second half the Spartans scored again making the score 2-0. The Concord men remained composed and earned a goal late in the second half. With 30 seconds remaining in the match, Concord pushed everyone forward on a final corner kick including goalie, Rob Morrison, who scored the equalizer, forcing a penalty kick shoot out. Morrison went on to save three sudden death penalty kicks before his teammates won the shoot out 5-4 in the ninth round.

The NEOTHSL is the state’s premier soccer league with Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Over 56, and Over 63 Divisions. The Over 50 league includes 63 teams from across Eastern Massachusetts organized by skill into 5 divisions. Concord finished the regular season with a record of 7W-1L-2T placing first in their region.

I started at left wing (midfield) and had a strong first half, playing with the intensity you would expect in a championship match. I did not play as well in the second half and was thankful I was not on the field for the penalty kick phase. A smart man of my age would graduate to the Over 56 division in the fall. I am not that smart. My last D1 championship was in 2008 as a member of the Concord United Over 40 team and I would like to win another before moving up another age group.

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i3 Bike Rack

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I have owned my BMW i3 for more than half a year now.  I love everything about it except two things; the coach style rear doors and the fact that there is no decent way to transport a bicycle (no factory roof rack or tow hitch available.) As of today, I only hate the rear doors. Based on a product I saw on the internet, I fabricated a vacuum cup mounted carrier which looks like it is going to work perfectly.

Part of the Week


Two weeks ago I had never done any engineering work in 3D. Last week I designed my first part using a 3D CAD program called Onshape after a couple of hours with their excellent tutorials. Today my boss sent an e-mail asking if we could figure out a way to help customers align our printing plate during installation. Five minutes later I had an idea for how this could be done. In less than an hour, I had an alignment guide designed in CAD (most of that time spent taking measurements and entering dimensions). An hour and 18 minutes after that, I had a physical part in hand ready for testing on the printer that made it (it is the white colored component in the photo below, taped in place). It is hard to describe the creative empowerment that comes with the ability to make prototypes so quickly. The time from concept to component has never been shorter and if I knew it before intuitively, I know it now concretely, that 3D printing is going to change everything.

Incidentally, the design worked perfectly and the part won second place in our regular Part of the Week show and tell, held each Friday afternoon over beers. On my drive home, I thought of a good way to attach the guide to the plate and will refine my design this evening.

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Glasses vs. Soccer Ball

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This evening was my last soccer practice of the season. We play for the Division 1 Championship on Sunday and then we are off until the fall season begins in September. During competition I wear contact lenses but for practices I generally wear my glasses. While up for a header, a rather nice one at that, my glasses did not fare so well when I played a well struck ball off the side of my head. Play was suspended while the entire team combed the field looking for the detached temple which flew quite a distance from the crash site. Fortunately, I have a back up set of glasses and the damage looks like it can be repaired.

Note for my mother in anticipation of her next email:  No head damage was sustained by your son.

Mattison Field

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One of the things I appreciate most about living in Concord is the amount of open green space. Mattison Field is located just down the street from our house. It was particularly beautiful this evening as I passed it on the way home from work. For the first time in the 12 years we have lived here, the farmer who cares for the town-owned land has planted wheat, probably as a matter of good crop rotation.

Mobile Garden

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While the commute to Somerville is a major pain, the neighborhood where I work is a very interesting place. The variety and number of places to eat is staggering. Jeanine quizzes me nightly on where I had lunch and what I had to eat. Everything is within walking distance of our facility and you never know what you are going to see along the way. MarkForged is growing very rapidly and we will soon be out of space. This afternoon I met with our commercial realtor to review options for a new building. We will probably move in November which gives me several more months to explore Somerville.

Two Webs

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I have photographed many spider webs over the years. I am usually attracted by the beauty of their symmetry. This morning I discovered one which was remarkable for its lack thereof, but a natural work of art nonetheless. At work, the windshield wiper motor bracket from my BMW i3 partially pictured below was used as the model for a 3D print we will make to illustrate potential high volume automotive applications for our technology. One of our talented interns was working on a CAD model when I left work and I expect to see an actual printed part tomorrow morning.

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Happy Father

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Despite torrential rains this morning, my soccer team played against Napoli in the D1 Championship semi-final match. The game was scoreless until the very end of the first half when we made a very pretty goal which shifted the momentum for the rest of the match. We went on to win 5-0 against a team that scored 32 goals in their ten game regular season. We will face Stoneham in the finals next weekend for all the marbles. Jeanine and Nicolai joined me for “apres” at the home of Rob Morrison, our goalie. Nico’s soccer exploits are well known to my team and it is always fun to watch him interacting with them. In celebration of Father’s day, we picked up Maya from the library where she was studying for finals and went to see Inside Out, Pixar’s touching new animated film (highly recommended). We conferenced Kyle in on the car’s speakerphone while en route to the theater completing our family circle. The movie was a perfect choice for Father’s Day (see it and you will know why) as was the decision to head into Harvard Square for dinner at Felipe’s, one of Nico’s favorite restaurants.

Echelman Revisited

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Based on an earlier post I made regarding Janet Echelman’s aerial sculpture over the Rose Kennedy Greenway, my mother, a talented sculptor and painter in her own right, was interested in seeing the installation. When we visited this morning I did not have with me the circular polarizing filter which I used the first time to make the artwork stand out from the background. It was a very nice outing and gave my mom and I chance to catch up on the ride in and back.

I spent the balance of the day teaching myself a new 3D CAD program which I hope to make use of at work. My first part is nothing to write home about but still a step in the right direction.

First 3D Part

Sweet Sixteen

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It is hard to believe that our little girl is now 16 years old. She is growing up to be a remarkable young woman but I am having difficulty watching as our last baby gets one year closer to leaving the nest. If ever there was a sweet sixteen year old, we can lay claim to her. She is also a very hard working and exceptional student. When it came time to select a gift for Maya, I knew in an instant what it would be (even if a busy work week forced me to acquire it at the last minute). I suspect that few other fathers would select such a present for their 16 year old daughter but then they do not have Maya. She received a toolbox (barely visible in the photo) containing a full set of high quality tools. When I left work “early” (6PM) to attend a family dinner birthday celebration at Besito in Burlington, I mentioned to my new boss that I would be giving Maya a toolbox, explaining that she had the makings of a talented engineer. He then remembered that Maya had built her own kayak and asked is she could CAD (i.e. design 3D objects on a computer). When I said yes, he said we should bring her in as a summer intern, a recommendation I intend to pursue. Maya learned to use SolidWorks in one of her high school engineering courses and now she will have a chance to put those skills to work.

Fabric Engineering

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My mother arrived today in advance of Maya’s 16th birthday and was immediately put to work altering a dress for the birthday girl. In engineering terms, I believe what we are seeing here is the use of a granite reference plane for validation of uniform hem length.  My mom is looking great and still has the energy of a woman half her age.

Mark One

Mark One

Now my third day on the job, I am still drinking from a fire hose. In addition to my responsibilities as head of engineering, I have also been asked to run operations and customer service. Our 3D printer, the Mark One, has been selling very well creating a challenge to keep up with demand for the consumables they use.

World Cup Reunion

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Nicolai has been back from Colorado College for a couple of weeks now but I have hardly seen him. Between my trip to Iceland and his camping, kayaking, and music festival excursions we have had little time together. This evening Nico was here with Karuna and a bunch of their friends to watch the Women’s World Cup match between the US and Nigeria. Jeanine and I joined the group as did Maya who for reasons unknown seemed quite intent on pulling the ears off of Nala.

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Local Celebrity

Jeanine Article

Jeanine received nice coverage in the Concord Journal last week for her keynote presentation at the Class Act Awards ceremony. We are all very proud of her volunteer work for the community and it is nice to see that recognized in the local media.

I left the house at 7am and returned by 9pm for my first day on the job at MarkForged. I can tell already tell this is going to be a very fun ride.