That Went Over Like a Lead Balloon

I love searching the Internet for anything and everything I want to know. Sometimes I stumble across new information that takes my breath away. This happened a few weeks ago when I was looking into new computer applications for graphic designers. I was talking with a friend who got me interested in the subject. Inadvertently, I read up on plasma cutting that takes place on special tables. The results are wonderful. It is amazing how it works and I wanted to know more. I couldn’t just go out and rent one not knowing the process. So, how do I try my hand at it? Eureka! Take a class. Why not bring friends? We were about to organize a wine and paint night as they are getting super popular. It is so much fun to be together and goof off with the arts.

Here was my chance. We could skip the wine and painting and go to a plasma cutting class. I found one at a local community college. I had to do some persuading, but we all enrolled and the eventful night rolled around. I was excited even though few others shared my enthusiasm. I’d done my research and had sent a link to to all my friends ahead of time, so they too would know what all the fuss was about. I was impressed that this cutter was advanced and controlled by a computer – called CNC or Computer Numerical Control. It was not the hand-held cutter I expected – much better. The instructor told us after explaining the parts of the machine that the computer could produce more precise and accurate work. You can really complex with your designs and even repeat them instantly if you like. Talk about efficiency and time savings. The special software controls the plate. The operator just pushes a button and is off. The equipment can be programmed to run without human interference. Was everyone as impressed as I was or am I the only techie in the crowd.

I was smiling but the others were not. They looked as if they were thinking, let’s get on with it. The instructor went on to demonstrate different designs and individual features. Mostly, however, plasma cutters by different makers have the basic parts: the gantry that holds the torch, a table, and a way to rid the air of smoke, dust, and/or fumes – a kind of built-in ventilation.

Now it was time to get started. One at a time we got to operate the cutter. The instructor helped us do the input into the computer. It seemed user friendly enough if you pay attention to what you are doing. You need some simple computer skills. Each of my friends wanted a different kind of result so the equipment had to be repositioned. I think I detected a pinch of excitement as the gantry holding the torch was activated. We watched some mighty precise cutting as shown on the computer. You get a preview of your output.

When the class was over, a few people grumbled that there was no wine. At least some were pleased with the time spent. Overall, my plan went over like a lead balloon; but I thought we made some super cool designs.