Make Architecture



Assignment 5: 3d Printing

I have been working a lot with funicular structures both in my classes and in UROP, so this week I wanted to make a hanging chain model that could be used to demonstrate the principle. I wanted the model to be free hanging when it was upside down, then be able to lock when put back upright.

The way I thought to do this was have a variable thickness axle that the chain links rotate on, so that if the chain was in plane, it would rotate freely, but then it could be friction-held if pushed out of plane

I used .01 inches as my offset for free rotation, so the diameter of the smaller section is .04in, which then tapers up to .06 in which has zero offset to hopefully have no rotation under the self weight of the links.

The rest of the link I designed using the chain on the 3d printed clock, but made them 1 inch long to really be able to see the angle each link takes (each link is also .25 inches wide and .1 inches thick) and also so it would fit in the 3d printer with the other projects

In order to make their initial layout, I used the graphical method of arch creation, assuming each link puts the same weight on each node. I did it 3 times with various base angles to show the differences that makes, making the shallower ones shorter so that the chains would nest well.

I made the chain mirrored symmetrical so that the locking mechanism would work in the same direction, which meant the top piece had to be special with no axles, while the base had to have the axles built in and space carved out for rotation.

All together it looks like this

And the .stl file is here

I was not present for the actual printing or extracting process, so I will find out if my assumptions were valid and how it turned out!


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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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