Make Architecture



#5 – Decoding the Invision

This week I wanted to see the difference between 3D printing using the Invision and the Dimension printers at the mars lab… I have the example from the Invision already, so the conclusions are yet to be made…

SO –

I started by thinking about what types of lo-fi mechanical items I could make. What struck me about the decoder ring was the importance of its movement, but also the importance that it stay put once it gets into the desired position – it must be at once loosely fit to rotate, but tight enough to not rotate without some effort.

Decoder rings are the sort of thing you might find in a box of cereal or you might send away for with box tops. Above, the examples of Little Orphan Annie decoder rings (which you might remember from the perennial favorite A Christmas Story).

Without taking too many liberties, I measured a ring that I always wear, and copied those dimensions in a new design, which I modeled in Rhino.

It was important that the disks (colored differently above… brass and other-colored brass, perhaps?) be able to move freely.

The ring was modeled in two parts– the ring itself, the inside code disk, and the outside holder. This was a bit redundant, and may ultimately have been my downfall, but I liked the way that the outside disk sat squarely within a holder.

I made sure that there was about 1/128″ between all moving parts, and then sent it off to the magic printing box.

The process of “excavating” (actually melting) the ring also proved to be a bit difficult, since I had so many small details and parts in my design.

There was still some residue of wax left in my print after all the melting was done, since there is a very thin area between the two moving parts. I was told that a vegetable oil bath would help get this out… I only had fancy olive oil (tarragon infused!) at home, so I gave that a try, to little avail. I suspect that the temperature of the oil was not well regulated, since I only had a fish thermometer, which wasn’t able to give a point reading.

I will continue to try and get that residue out, since there are many codes left to be cracked!


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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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