Make Architecture



3 Hold my pen while I shut down the waterjet cutter


This week’s design is a pen holder constructed out of press-fit 1/8″ aluminum pieces. The main body of the pen holder is made by stacking (24) pieces, each featuring (10) 10mm holes and 1/8″ wide tabs, into a single column held together by two collars. By tapping a screw into the top of each leg, the pen holder becomes hinged, and can be fastened to a wall as well as placed on a desk. A cross-brace piece locks the legs together with u-shaped collars.

Cut File

I proceed to lay out the cut file in the same way I would a lasercut sheet – I packed everything as close together, and as close to the edge of the sheet as I could. As can be seen in the above image, I did not give enough of a clear border around the aluminum to allow my sheet to be cut without repositioning the clamps. As I found out, repositioning clamps contributes to inaccuracies in cutting. Perhaps not to the extent that the water cylinder shearing in half contributes to inaccuracies in cutting, but every bit does help. As I found out, the waterjet process is much more controllable – and therefore much more sensitive – to the lasercut process.

The session was cut short when it was determined that something mechanical was malfunctioning in the waterjet machine. Of the pieces that were cut, the broken/unusable piece to usable piece ratio was about 2:1. This was subsequently attributed to the water cylinder having been sheared in half, but mistakes on my part in the course of laying out my cut file also became evident.

Specifically, these were:

* I did not leave a 1-2″ border clear around the cut sheet edge

* Too many small pieces (ie pieces cut out of larger contiguous pieces) resulted in sheet vibration, further reducing cut accuracy

* Automatic tool path was not able to consistently, accurately establish a tool path along the outside edge of cut lines. Due to time contraints, I did not manually alter the tool paths.

The gory mess:

Lessons learned:

*Leave a 1-2″ border around the edge of each cut sheet

*On sheets with many pieces, and/or with many cutouts within contiguous pieces, it helps to not cut everything at once. Break up one cut sheet into several cut sheets. This helps with reducing the amount of sheet vibration that occurs when making many minute cuts. By breaking up large files into manageable pieces, it also affords one a greater degree of control to manually establish approach/cut paths.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


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.


%d bloggers like this: