FURNITURE DESIGN ELECTIVE 2007

CAN CAD CAM

ross mcleod and andrew thompson

 

The developments in CADCAM technology over recent years has provided new opportunities for designers to express complex geometries and produce works that in the past were virtually unmakeable through traditional craft techniques. The adoption of CADCAM techniques also suggests a post industrial future of manufacturing where prototypes and products can be tailor made to specific projects with relative ease. This elective asked students to experiment with the potentials of CADCAM systems and begin to identify the shifts in design thinking that these new technologies afford.

Using computer controlled paper cutting and laser cutting machines the students generated a 1:1 mock up design for a lampshade made from polypropylene sheet. Utilizing the software capabilities of rhino, laminar and pepakura, the designs explored the potentials of using folded or developable surfaces to create a three dimensional object. While the machine technology made the act of cutting patterns a simple task, the conceptual thinking needed to visualise three dimensional geometries generated from flat sheet, made this phase of the project the most complex for the students to negotiate.

This phase of the project explored the more common use of CADCAM systems in the production of furniture. Using a CAD router and laser cutting equipment the students produced a 1:5 scale model for a piece of flat panel furniture. The piece could be a table, chair, table, stool, screen, cabinet or shelving unit. The originality of the interlocking and joining systems of the pieces and the thoughtfulness that could be brought to the nesting of components to fit most economically on the sheet were the key to these designs.

The potentials of three dimensional printing offers a new language of form for designers to explore. The students were asked to push their skills in form generating software to produce the design for a small piece of tableware of extraordinary geometry. The aim of this project was to generate works of such great complexity and detail that could ultimately only be made by the machine.

In traversing the interface between software commands to create successful meshes that the three dimensional printer could recognise and coming to terms with a process that builds a form up hundredth of a millimeter at a time, the students began to define the parameters and possibilities of a new techno-craft approach to design.

 

STUDENTS: jenny zhang, meaghan riordan, kathy cagaroska, andrew miller, ni yu bin, victor gan