Whilst our partner Darko works away in Canada to try to get funding for future work (to build more hot presses in Africa), here in Buenos Aires I try to understand his design and interpret it for the potential hot press manufacturers that I have been speaking to. Its not an easy task – I feel my materials engineering background together with my poor Spanish leaves me disabled in the task of machine design. I have met some excellent mechanics and machinists over the last few days but as soon as I had the drawings in front of me, all the ‘yes I can do that for sure’ nods became, ‘how does that work?’, ‘I don’t understand’ and ‘I can’t do it unless I see the actual machine, the detailed instructions…’. We hope, however that we now have two potential builders for the machine and we press on with both. Today I went to visit Victor who runs a huge workshop together with one partner and a handful of employees. He told me he has been working as a metal worker for 14 years and it quickly became evident how experienced he is. I was amazed by the size of the workshop and the extent of the equipment and capacity they have to create tools and machines of all kinds, but more so that they have built this from nothing in the last eight months. We spent a long time trying to understand the design, comparing it with the more usual four column varieties which are extremely expensive.
Victor Workplace
We also compared it with the designs of an English model and a model developed by a former PhD student, Helen Cartledge and her brother, who has sent the designs to me by post from Australia. Victor was astonished at the amount of pressure we needed, and we had all sorts of fun deciding how the machine would actually work, but eventually we got to a place where we think we can go ahead and start building. Tomas, our other hot press builder is a designer who will work with machinists to realise the final product. He may come up with a different version. We have decided to go ahead with both – the race is on for the best hot press in town… In the meantime, I also visited INTI again today and finally met the Plastics group – and I saw my first working Buenos Aires hot press. I am beginning to think that the only thing that has any real essence in this world is the hot press… Maybe I need a rest.