LEARNING DIGITAL DESIGN AND FABRICATION THROUGH PLAY
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The madMeshMaker is a generative surface modeling environment, intended to be an intuitive and fun introduction to digital fabrication with computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machines. The software application aims to erase the technical barriers-of-entry for digital design and digital fabrication (CAD/CAM) technologies, and therefore enable those without experience in such technologies to quickly learn through making.
The premise of this work is to abolish the misconception of digital fabrication as printing. While the machinery used for digital fabrication is intended to precisely replicate what a designer has created in virtual space, a number of physical constraints arise as soon as one attempts to bring something out of the digital realm and into the physical. The madMeshMaker provides an abstract and playful environment to rapidly explore fabrication topics like materiality, tooling techniques, patterning techniques, axial limitations, and feeds/speeds on various materials, while experiencing the digital-to-physical consequences of the mesh’s fluidity, resolution, scale, and formal composition in virtual space.
In the academic curriculum of architecture/art/design schools, digital fabrication still remains an ‘advanced topic’ due to the inherent 3D-modeling knowledge needed to both virtually and physically design. However, as a pedagogical tool, a form rapidly generated with the madMeshMaker can be physically demonstrative of how a hermetic digital model can differ in articulation once fabricated over a series of material, toolbit, and machining choices. This application also allows one to discover that while there are no formal constraints in virtual space, each of the machines used to fabricate a design brings its own set of limitations. To have a successfully fabricated design, the physical limits of a fabrication technique should be considered when designing the virtual model, and vice versa. Incorporating this intuitive modeling environment at the beginning stages of a formal education has the potential to push future designers beyond the conventional uses of CAD/CAM technology, and cultivate novel methods of design and production.
made with: Processing, with code adapted from Jos Stam’s “Real-Time Fluid Dynamics for Games” and openproccessing.org
Libraries: openGL | peasyCam | controlP5 | dxf exporter