Digital And Physical Fabrication

Explore how material and aesthetic properties and manufacturing methods influence form and design of objects.

Workshop Dates: July 18th – 22nd, 2016

Keywords: digital fabrication, aesthetics, material science, prototyping, manufacturing

Things are changing. Our access to things and ways of making have changed, materials are being combined in new ways, leading to incredible innovation. Smart medical devices, soft exoskeletons, new ways of energy generation and storage can all be done by individuals in their homes, schools, small companies. These innovations are because of increased fabrication methods, open source hardware and software, more fluid dialogue within communities and accessible prototyping tools. Not only is the functionality improving but the experience and personal impact of what we make is too.

What materials are good for what utility? How long is their lifespan? What does one material communicate to the other? How do the aesthetics of the material influence its use? How can new production methods be used to advance the way we understand form and function? What is the relationship between different combinations of materials with the organic and inorganic world? This five-day course takes a hands-on approach to examine the relationships of materials for design and production.

“Never again shall men be treated as things”
Jose Saramago, The Lives of Things

A series of mini exercises will introduce participants to digital and physical fabrication techniques, and encourage them to think beyond the typical constraints and characteristics of a material.

Possible materials & processes we will explore:

  • Flexible structures out of rigid objects
  • Contrast, color, size and form
  • Tessellated & lattice structures
  • Fungal foam and living organisms
  • Graphene, Aerogel, Conductive Ink, and Heat-reactive materials
  • Rigid and flexible materials
  • How materiality influences kinetic ability
  • Molding objects out of silicon and plaster
  • Digital fabrication techniques such as etching and cutting on the laser cutter
  • Inflatables eg. robots and flexible materials
  • 3D printing objects that are rigid or flexible

The first day will consist of lectures in basic overviews of material science, interaction design, and product design. The remaining days are composed of mini exercises and a hands-on group project, using physical materials in unique and unexpected ways to create a tangible product or sculpture, which might be either a functional object, such as a tool or robot, or a sculpture artistically exploring materiality. Participants will come away from this course a deeper understanding of material relationships, engineering prototyping and design processes, and digital and analog fabrication techniques. Students will also come away with a well documented process and product.

Learning expectations:

  • Intro to digital fabrication and prototyping methods – 3d printing, laser cutting, casting, mold making
  • Intro to Human Factors / Usability in relation to materials
  • Intro to industrial manufacturing methods for larger scale production
  • Basics of material science and properties

Prerequisites: None!

Gabriella Levine (Google[x])
Sara Krugman (Tidepool)