What is Digital Fabrication and Design? (Part II)

What is Digital Fabrication and Design?

In our last post we talked a little bit about what Digital Fabrication and Design is, or might be. This time we’re going to look at a specific example which should make us question what Digital Fabrication and Design should encompass.

I talked to a colleague of mine at UWM, a Grad Student named Broc Toft, about how he used digital tools to design something that he eventually made by hand. He described this as “Digitally Crafting to Manually Making” and provided me with some images and text to describe his process.

Broc's Design
The model was created in Rhino.

Broc's Design
I then used “Unroll Developable Srf” function to get surfaces. (I then printed it out on paper to use as a template.)

Broc's Design
This is the MDF cut using the templates. (Note: The MDF was manually cut. If I had used a CNC machine to cut it I would have had to modeled the chamfer to deal with the angles.)

Broc's Design
I then assembled and polyurethaned the model.

Broc's Design
In coddle form, ready for plaster.

Broc's Design
After the plaster was poured.

Broc's Design
The finished plaster mold.

Broc's Design
The ceramic positive that came out of mold.

Broc's Design
The end result; 21 of them used with projection mapping. (You can also see a video of the installation.)

So there’s a lot of things done by hand, and while “Digital Fabrication” wasn’t used, “Digital Design” was, at least to create the original form, and to assist in creating a template. One of the interesting aspects is that if Broc had been making a number of these forms using MDF or some other easily machinable material, using a CNC machine to create them would make more sense, but with just one needed to used to create a mold, perhaps making it by hand was the right option. Broc also noted that someone much more skilled in Digital Fabrication may have been able to CNC the whole thing and avoided doing things by hand. (My own thought is, do what works to get things done!)

While writing this post I also came across this Instructable titled Digital Fabrication By Hand, which demonstrates the same idea.

(Previously: Part I)

1 reply on “What is Digital Fabrication and Design? (Part II)”

If you look at a lot of the prop makers, they don’t have access to CNC, so they do the same thing. Volpin Props has done some really cool stuff, although he’s starting to use shapeways for 3d printing. ( uses a nice combination of both, especially with Pepakura. (You could have lots of fun with pepakura, and I’ve played with it a little at the makerspace, using the laser cutter to speed cutting out the paper models)

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