Monday, August 13, 2012

Future Fabrications

Here's an unusual take on how we might build things in the future: The subversive Danish creative collective known as N55's Spaceplates. The idea is that we would have the proverbial shit-ton of sheet goods delivered to our home, and we'd break out a domestic CNC, download some plans and have it start carving up modular units that we'd then put together.

N55 in collaboration with Anne Romme and Sam Kronick are prototyping a new building system called SPACEPLATES based on the geometry found in animal shells like the sea urchin. Its a low cost way of creating approximated double curved surfaces in a statically well defined way, minimizing the material use. When the system is ready, persons should be able to " print out" a SPACEPLATES construction ( a home, a greenhouse or a larger communal building), using materials like PC or aluminum and a CNC- router. (Even a small table version- cnc router will work).

CNC / CAD /CAM links

Pixels in Plywood

A Finland-based artist going by the name of "Tomi" has created pixel art using an MDF-based CNC router to drill holes of different depths into stained plywood. The resultant halftone images take about an hour to produce and contain roughly 3,000 "pixels:"

Tomi is part of the DIY CNC movement, and if you're curious to see pictures and details of both his work and the machine's set-up, you can check both out here.


Ok, so it's actually just a combination of a wall-sized CNC-routed halftone and a climbing wall—a scaled-down scalable surface, but it's a noteworthy DIY project nonetheless. For $200 and "not more than a day" of savoir-faire, 3-axis routing and elbow-grease designer Christoph Schindler (half of Zurich-based "furniture architecture" firm Schindler Salmeró) built the "Fitz Roy Climbing Wall" as a birthday gift for his son.
We used a 2500 x 1250 x 15 mm plywood-board and painted it. The hole pattern for the image and the holes for the climbing holds were drilled with an old CNC 3-axis-router. Although the pattern looks complex, there was no scripting involved and everything was prepared with standard software tools.

For those of you who have said resources, Schindler's provided detailed instructions of the entire process:
First we selected a nice image, in our case we decided for an image of Fitz Roy in Patagonia. Then we created a surface with the "heightfield from image"-operation in Rhino, choosing a height of 3mm (see below). The milling is done with "Plunge Roughing," a standard CAM operation. In Plunge Roughing, the tool makes a series of plunges to remove cylindrical plugs of material. To get our pattern, we chose for an usual large distance of the plunges. The selected tool is a 6 mm-Ballnose-Tool. To use the radius of the ballnose for different hole diameters, the height difference of the surface equals the radius of the tool (this is were the 3mm come from). If the paint is applied before milling, the holes and the white background contrast sharply.
 After this operation, the triangular grid of holes for the climbing holds are prepared, as well with the router. Then the plywood is turned and the T-nuts are fixed with a hammer... we have a total of 97 holes and started with a set of 15 climbing holds. The position of the holds can be altered any time and there are enough T-nuts to get more holds or fix other gear like a rope.