Digital modeling and fabrication
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Digital Modeling and Fabrication is a process that joins Design with the Construction / Production through the use of 3D modeling software and additive and subtractive manufacturing processes. These tools allow designers to produce digital materiality, which is something greater than an image on screen, and actually tests the accuracy of the software and computer lines.
Computer milling and fabrication integrate the computer assisted designs with that of the construction industry. In this process, the sequence of operations becomes the critical characteristic in procedure. Architects can propose complex surfaces, where the properties of materials should push the design.
Machines for fabrication
CNC stands for computer numerical control. Through a computer controller, G-codes are read which represent specific CNC functions in alphanumeric format. The g-codes drive a machine tool, a powered mechanical device typically used to fabricate components. CNC machines are classified according to the number of axes that they possess. CNC machines are specifically successful in milling materials such as plywood, foam board, and steel at a fast speed. CNC machine beds are typically large enough to allow 4' × 8' (123 cm x 246 cm) sheets of ¾" (19 mm) thick plywood to be cut.
The laser cutter is a machine that uses a laser to cut materials such as chip board, matte board, thin sheets of wood, and plexy up to 3/8" (1 cm) thickness. AutoCAD is used in the production of lines on a grid, which would be sent to the laser cutter as a .dwg file. Lines can either cut through the material or score it depending on the color of the line drawn. Lines drawn in white will be cut and lines in red will score the material in the cutting bed. Objects cut out of materials can be used in the fabrication of physical models, which will only require the piecing together of the parts.
The Z plotter is one of the newest technology tools available to architects and designers. The machine allows a "Z plot" model to be made in Rhinoceros as a 3D object; in the Z direction. The bed of the machine is an 8" × 10" × 10" (20 × 25 x 25 cm) high box, which will add several layers of a powder resin through a series of fills. Once a Z plot is finished, the excess powder must be removed away from the model. This typically leads to broken parts because they are very brittle when removed from the machine. For this reason, it is good to make 10–15 copies so you will be sure to get one that doesn't break. This greatly increases the cost of the models but is the only way to ensure you have one that is good. For added stability, the z plot model should be placed in a wax based machine for about 20 minutes, which will harden the structure. You can also use superglue but the cost is about $50 per ounce. Again, the cost is high but it makes the model pretty durable. The other option would be to use a Dimension 3D printer which makes plastic models that are strong and accurate for considerably less money.
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