Make Architecture



Assignment 4b: Shop Bot

For this assignment with the shop bot I wanted to test a few of the capabilities of the CNC Router. I wanted to make a track that wheels could run on and also attempt a contour mill. I decided to make a “kinetic art” piece that would go on the wall and be able to move, which is detailed in post 4a.

Realizing the limitations of time on the machine, I changed the contour mill to a series of pocket milled pieces, so that it is a series of steps instead of a continuous contour. The tracks on the two base pieces are a little bit wider than the wheels, and the plan was to use 1/4 inch bolts as the axles for the wheels and connect them to the top plate.

As a design concern, because of the 1/4 inch diameter of the end mill, it would be impossible to get the corners specified in the design of the top plate. Knowing that each pocket stepped down, I enlarged the area for the center part and rounded the corners.

I also offset the profile cut of the edge of the plate in 1/4 inch to allow for the corners to look sharp. Also, when setting up for pocket milling in PartWorks, the won’t interpret an island unless none of the edges coincide – so I had to offset the various edges so that Partworks would mill it correctly. Finally, to allow space for the head of the bolt in the wheels I pocketed out a countersunk area there.

Final PartWorks Cutpath Image:

ShopBot While Cutting:

One note of caution – Don’t cut pieces too small, or else the vacuum will suck them up. I had to dig into the sawdust bag to get 2 of the wheels and 4 of the pegs. I ended up losing the last peg.

Another note of caution – Although I had holes in the cut file and I included them in the profile cut command when I cut the rest of the outlines, they will only cut if they are specified under the drill command. Thus my holes did not cut, so I had to drill them myself:

All the completed pieces after light sanding, including the countersunk wheels, and the very mangled pegs

Base put together. because the holes were not as accurate as I would have liked, I had to widen the slot using a band saw.

Everything put together:

Mounted on a wall:

Overall it turned out really well, but again because of the inaccuracies in the hole drilling, it does not roll as smoothly as I would have liked. Also because the pegs are so mangled, the center piece of the base can rotate a bit so the wheels binds up sometimes while spinning.

If I were to do it again, I would probably use a different method to make the wheels, but the pocket milled piece looks really cool. I would also reset the depths of drilling so that they are entirely within one layer of wood so it looks more uniform.


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Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


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