Emerging Futures

As the noise and furore that surrounds digital fabrication starts to dissipate, where do we as designers, builders and consumers find ourselves? The home has not become the new manufacturing centre and designers (generally) are not quaking in their boots as they become obsolete and redundant! On the contrary, new models of manufacturing are emerging and design and designers are being redefined as we speak. Continue reading

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Fab Futures

In EDFAB we are interested in what tools will be available to us tomorrow, not just what we can use today.

We held a robotics workshop this week in combination with Auckland University, Auckland University of Technology and colab, a laboratory for design and creative technology. It was a result of several things converging over the past 12 months. Since 2011 Dr McMeel has been attending on occasion workshop by Robots in Architecture. A fantastic association doing amazing work and Dermott has been planning for sometime to do something locally. With Sean Park looking into the KUKA and ABB toolkits available for Grasshopper here, and with interest from Fine Arts, Engineering, colab and Architecture we held a day long workshop which began with looking at KUKA and ABB setups in both Universities, then having lunch with engineerings, architects, academics and researchers talking about possibilities and potential, then finally ending the day with some hands on robot control. Attendees got to get hands on ‘keyframing’ the KUKAs before moving into hotwire cutting and finally using Rhino, Grasshopper and the KUKA|prc by Robots in Architecture to create complex tool paths to control a calligraphy pen and ‘draw’ with the machines.

As technologies are getting appropriated and integrated into creative processes there is an increased interest in how they can be utilised, how they change practices, how they redefine the limits of what is possible. Understanding these and other questions leads to new and innovative ways of practicing and creating. Although we also broke a few things in the process – that too is part of the process.


Thanks to Ken Snow, Charles Walker, Loulin Huang, Jan Kruse, Herman Haringa and Angela Yoo.

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EDFAB Software ecosystem

We are about half way through the EDFAB project now and have some of our BETA software completed for designing and building an ‘annex’ or ‘sleep-out’ as its called in New Zealand. We have a very easy to use user-interface (UI) and a more detailed and comprehensive expert-interface (XI). Both of which exchange information in a standard CSV (comma separated variable) file format. The aim is to create software interfaces tailored to specific users; the people who need an annex only need the UI, an easy to use software that lets them alter the width and depth of the structure and see its dimensions and useable floor area. What they are presented with and can alter is only the things important to them.

EDFAB Screenshot

EDFAB UI Screenshot software by Kent VanVelden

The expert interface is for fabricating and building. We have encoded the details and structural characteristics of the construction method for a specific type of construction material, in this case 18mm plywood. The XI enables us to alter this. If we needed (for some reason) to construct from 20mm plywood we can change the necessary parameters here. Also as our system develops we can also alter the details of construction method within the expert system. Thus it is not a piece of software that expires, rather it will be evolving as our understanding of the construction system and the changing knowledge and skills practices that surround it also evolve.

EDFAB Expert Interface

EDFAB Expert Interface (XI) software architecture by Sindre Johnsen

Screenshot of the expert interface:

XI Software Screenshot

XI Software Screenshot

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Test Routes

Here is a preliminary test cut of a 1:2 sized panel on out CNC router. We are assessing several things here:

  • The jointing method. How reliable is it? Are the tolerances (0.25) adequate for easy assemble but ensure an accurate panel?
  • Cut quality. The router bit speed and head speed both affect the quality of the edge cut and have a direct bearing on the tolerances of the jointing method.
  • How build-able? The project should be quite quick to cut and easy to build – this 1:2 panel took approximately 4 minutes 30 seconds to cut (see video) on the router. It was assembled in around 2 minutes and we allow a further 3 minutes for additional screws results in approximately 10 minutes fabrication per panel.
  • Hygro-thermal Performance. One of the key benefits of digital fabrication is the ability to ensure a high degree of accuracy time and time again. We want to access its hygro-thermal performance – how water and air behave when trying to penetrate it.
  • Structural Performance. There are stringent codes in New Zealand due to earthquake risk. How does the panel perform to local structural specifications?

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