Friday, September 27, 2013

Digital Fabrication as a Design Tool

By Tim Shotts
As a graduate assistant in the Digital Fabrication Lab, I have the opportunity to see a lot of student's models. It's really quite amazing to witness the birth of a model from a 3D shaded rendering. All these have started as an idea, gone from sketch to digital representation, and then fabricated either on our laser cutter, 3D printer, or CNC. Some of the recent projects fabricated at the DFL have been installed around our home, Quigley Hall, study models for the Furniture Design studio, topography for site study models, and case study models.

First, I'd like to state that anything that comes out of the DFL can be made without it.
The machines we have available to us are no different than any other tool use. In fact, they're very similar. For instance, CAD is more popular than hand drafting, but both are done and each has its advantage.

With that caveat, digital fabrication can democratize our designs. We can realize our designs despite any lack of skill in model making. Digital fabrication also allows us to create many iterations quickly and test them to refine our designs. The value of study models is priceless. There is no replacement for having a physical model to hold in your hand.

Here's a quick sample of what SIU Architecture Students have been creating in Prof.  Wessel’s studio.
Students:  Patrick Szczecina, Margaret Kramer, Paula Golz, Lucas Flaa

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