Entrepreneur Turns Clockwork into Artwork with Autodesk Fusion 360
Nicholas Manousos is not a typical watchmaker. The New York-based entrepreneur worked at various Silicon Valley technology startups before seeking a different professional challenge and turning to his fascination with mechanical watches.
Manousos attended a renowned watchmaking school and became a professional horologist—someone versed in the fine arts of watchmaking and clockmaking. His latest adventure in horology is the creation of Tourbillon 1000%: a working tourbillon that is 10 times larger than normal. A tourbillon is a device that compensates for gravity’s effects on a watch escapement. It is often used in very high-end watches as a display of watchmaking virtuosity. The large scale of the Tourbillon 1000% allows people to clearly see all of the moving parts at work and to fully comprehend the complexity and beauty of the device.
Manousos used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design the Tourbillon 1000% and a Kossel Clear PLA Delta 3D Printer to manufacture it. The only non-3D printed parts are ball bearings.
For his innovative work, Manousos has been recognized as the Autodesk Inventing the Future recipient for August!
Here is what Manousos had to say about his craft and experiences leveraging Fusion:
What do you develop, and why is it important to the world?
Manousos: My focus is on applying additive manufacturing to horology. I am working on building clocks and watches; my first project was a tourbillon with symmetrical co-axial escapement at 1000 percent scale. Before the quartz watch, the world kept time with mechanical movements. These mechanical movements are a source of endless fascination for me. After attending watchmaking school, I decided that I wanted to do something a bit different. Instead of joining a watch brand, I set out to work independently with an entirely different manufacturing technology. I see additive manufacturing with 3D printing as the start of a paradigm shift in manufacturing. The barrier to entry for independent watchmaking has always been quite high and now, with the pace of technological improvement and affordable price of 3D printers, that barrier is getting much lower.
How has adopting technology helped your business evolve?
Manousos: 3D printing has greatly reduced the iteration time required for my engineering process. This is valuable for me, as it enables me to quickly test ideas with real parts. Software simulation is helpful, but holding and examining a physical part is much better. In the past, I had a traditional machining workshop with a CNC mill and lathe. I found that I was spending the majority of my time fine-tuning my CNC equipment rather than making parts! 3D printing allows me to focus on what is important to me—the engineering aspect of horology.
Why did you choose Fusion 360?
Manousos: I use Autodesk Fusion 360 because it seamlessly brings together parametric and t-spline modeling in an elegant package for MacOS. I also appreciate the cloud storage. It simplifies my workflow tremendously and lets me focus on what is important. MacOS compatibility is particularly important to me. For a long time there were no real options for CAD in MacOS. I was overjoyed to see Autodesk come to MacOS in a meaningful way!
Another feature that greatly helps my workflow is the inclusion of 3D printing support. With one click from within Autodesk Fusion 360, I can send my model to Autodesk Meshmixer to prepare it for printing. To me, it feels like Autodesk Fusion 360 was built with 3D printing in mind. 3D printing is changing the traditional paradigm of manufacturing, and software needs to change alongside it. Previously, full-featured CAD software was very expensive and focused toward large companies with even larger R&D budgets. 3D printing brings manufacturing to a personal level, where hobbyists can grow and start bringing their work to a professional level. Autodesk Fusion 360 is the perfect tool for this, and the affordable pricing model reflects this changing reality.
Where do you see your business five years from now? In 10 years?
Manousos: I love horology and everything to do with it. I am looking forward to seeing how 3D printing technology progresses. In the future, I hope to be able to gradually shrink my work from a 1000 percent scale down as far as possible toward 100 percent watch scale. In addition, I will continue working on new movements and complications. My dream is that 3D printing will enable more watchmakers to set out on their own and work independently, which would help foster more competition and innovation in the industry.
What does being a horologist mean to you?
Manousos: Horology is appealing to me because of its blend of technical and historical aspects. It is a field of study that is incredibly broad and important. Today we take some of this for granted, with iPhones that tell the time very accurately. Accurate timekeeping, particularly at sea, was incredibly important in shaping today’s world. It is particularly intriguing to me to mix old technology with a new manufacturing method.
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