Archive for the 'technology' Category

Shillito A. M. Digital Crafts: Industial Technologies for Applied Artists and Designer Makers. 2013

This book by Ann Marie Shillito has been published in October 2013 by Bloomsbury. The first heading of the introduction reads, ‘Don’t be intimidated!’ and serves as Shillito’s motivational motto for the interested maker who is on the verge to engage with digital technologies. ‘I want this book to empower, knowing that engagement with and access to digital technologies will continue to improve and that as designer makers we have exceptional knowledge and expertise to take full advantage of all the means available to enhance our practice.’

Digital crafts cover sml

A practicing designer/maker with a background as a jeweller, Shillito is also the founder of Anarkik3D developer of the 3D modelling product Cloud9. This software enables the user to employ haptic feedback – with a force feedback device – to model virtual 3D objects using also their sense of touch. (I was priveledged to tested an early prototype of this system – it had also stereo-scopic vision co-located with the users real gestural positions).

I like the fact that this complex and multifaceted theme is introduced by an experienced maker. In writing this book, Shillito has also included the voices and works of 45 international contributors who have included digital technologies together with their practice to various degrees.

Being image rich, this book makes it easy to see the diverse opportunities digital technologies have to offer for craft and design practitioners. It takes an honest look as to what would be requried from a maker to access these opportunities. The investment in acquiring the necessary skills is significant. A chapter each is given to 2D and 3D technologies and there distinct applications. Chapter 6 ‘Accessing digital technologies’ might be of particular interest to the novice digital/maker.

Chapter 2, ‘A craft-minded approach’, touches on important questions for contemporary making that sees traditional disciplines becoming less defined through the very technologies that hold so much potential for them. This chapter sets the context against which this book draws its value. It canvases the value of the skills and approaches unique to the designer/maker that both inform the output the creative works as well as the development/application of these digitally-based processes.

I have been familiar with all the technologies introduced in Digital Crafts and have used a fair part of them directly. While all aspects are illustrated with completed works by competent digital Designer/makers, I would have been interested to see how some of these works progressed from conception to realisation.

Digital Craft is certainly a worthwhile resource for anyone interested in the contemporary Designer/Maker model as well as the current state of digital manufacturing and the processes required to access them.

Link to Anarkik3D

Curve/Curve gold, new folded form

Formed by a combination of digitally controlled and manual processes, this work can decorate a wall as well as a table. A CNC router cuts the pattern I designed, guiding the manual deformation of the aluminium composite material into a 3d form. This material is lightweight, durable and colourfast, all qualities that make them ideal for creating lasting individually designed works.

More images of objects in this series here.

Curve/Curve gold, 585 x 480 x 75mm

Curve/Curve gold back

Curve/Curve gold back detail

de sign ed 2 showcasing the design arts

This exciting exhibition will be opening on Thursday 2 August at the School of Art gallery in Canberra at the Australian National University. The opener will be Brian Parks, director Jam Factory in Adelaide.

Image

Works by the following designer/makers are presented in this show:

Elliot Bastianon, furniture
Sean Booth, metal
Simon Cottrell, metal
Cesar Cueva, metal
Janet DeBoos, ceramics
Nadège Desgenètez, glass
Ashley Eriksmoen, furniture
Robert Foster, lights
Jon Goulder, furniture
Megan Jackson, textile
Johannes Kuhnen, metal
Cinnamon Lee, metal
Rohan Nicol, lights
Henry Pilcher, lights
Phoebe Porter, metal
Gilbert Riedelbauch, metal
Blanche Tilden, metal/glass
Annie Trevillian, textile
Henry Wilson, furniture

The catalog includes a welcome by  the head of school, Gordon Bull and an essay about the design arts by Anne Brennan the head of the Art Theory department. Here is a link to a pdf version of the catalogue.

ur QR

I am getting quite fond of QR (quick reference) codes. These strange square pattern link the ‘real’ world to information or places in cyperspace. You can ‘read’ them with your smart phone – I use the iPhone app QRReader – or create them with their phone or on a website like qrstuff. Such a code can assist with promoting professional practice and can find its way on your business and invitation cards as well as your email signature block.

Here is a QR code linking straight to my new website.

(Either scan it with a QR reader or just click on it)

Image

Wall Vessels, 3D object from 2D sheeting

Wall Vessels are a new series of objects formed by combining digital and manual processes. These objects are both utilitarian and decorative and are more then 600mm long and about 450mm wide. Please find more images on my web site here.


I design the CNC engraving patterns and save them as digital files, these in turn control the CNC router’s path. The machine cut pattern then guides the manual deformation of the sheet into a 3d object. Using composite aluminium panel, this high performing material is lightweight, durable and colourfast, making it suitable for creating lasting individually designed works. Aluminum Composite Panel is best described as a sandwich panel consisting of a Polyethylene core sandwiched between two aluminum sheets with the entire panel consisting of three layers.

I am interested in experimenting with the surface treatment, as the appearance will translate this material from industrial back to the manually formed and finished object.

A paper folded ‘sketch’ object serves as a mock-up. The creases in the paper are translated into a digital vector drawing in Illustrator and saved as .eps file. This file is then used for the CNC router.

CAD to gold-plated stainless steel

Web-based fabrication has gotten even more exciting with a new material/process offered through the Ponoko system. Getting computer models ‘printed’ in 3D using online rapid prototyping processes is established but having the CAD parts arrive in stainless steel with a gorgeous rich gold coat is quite something.

ponoko stainless steel gold-plated parts

This new material/process is offered through the US hub and is equally as easy to order as the 2d laser-cutting service. I found that dimensions ‘shrink’ slightly eg holes I had modeled as 3.9 mm turned out to be 3.4 mm in the finished parts. Being mostly stainless steel (with some bronze wicked into it) it proved very difficult to drill the holes to the right size. High speed drill bits (even titanium tipped) are blunt after drilling only 6mm deep. Reducing the speed from the recommended 1000 rpm to a third helped to improve their staying power slightly. I look forward to the carbon-nitride drill bit I ordered to finally finish the job.

These parts are for a new light using a mix of digitally fabricated and manually made elements. The ‘gold’ parts are intented to connect carbon fiber rods forming the main structure of the design.

design sketch and wire model

True digital art on iPad by David Hockney

This post is to thank David Hockney for making available two of his recent iPad drawings to my teaching program at the School of Art at the Australian National University.

David Hockney iPad drawings

David Hockney iPad drawings

We celebrated these impressive drawings, which are in every sense true digital art works, as part of Core Computer Studies lecture to our 1st year students and guests. I decided to display these works on two Apple iPads, the very platform/media they were created on.

Lelde, Gordon Bull (Head of School) and I

David Hockney drew them during his stay at Glyndebourne, a 700-year old country house and opera house in East Sussex, England. There he recreated the stage-set for the opera ‘The Rake’s Progress’ by Stravinsky . Looking closely at these drawings  one gets a sense of this location.  The drawings titled: ‘iPad 6 8 2010’ & ‘iPad 7 8 2010’ were sent as email attachments on 21 August 2010.

With David Hockney iPad drawings, photo Karleen Minney

With David Hockney iPad drawings, photo Karleen Minney

I like to thank Martin Gayford, critic for Bloomberg News, for kindly forwarding my emails to David Hockney. I also like to thank Tristan Peemoeller from MAC1, Greg Aldridge and Barbara McConchie for their support, to make the presentation of these works possible.

This event was picked up by the news, please read more here.

All you can do with materials

‘One can do only four things with material’, is my current theory I like to test with this post. Four steps apply to the majority of making processes and some aspects of these are shifting from the makers workbench to distributed digital fabrication online.

It is worthwhile to look at these shifts in more detail as the mastery of digital technologies is involved in defining contemporary craft practitioners as ‘Designer Makers’.

The four processes are:

Cutting – Forming – Fusing - Finishing

About these categories:

Many materials used by makers are available in flat, like sheet metal, fabric, glass. Traditional cutting tools such as saws, scissors, blades are used on them, while at the same time digitally controlled cutting processes like laser & water-jet cutting or CNC plasma cutting are becoming more and more accessible. Digital processes influence most significantly the first category, cutting. Just about all flat materials can be ‘fashioned’ this way, allowing the maker to achieve repeatable precision parts countless times. These technologies are still very specialised and expensive usually out of reach of the individual maker. However a growing fabber network will bring these tools closer to the workshop of the individual maker.

The forming is still mostly in the hands of the crafts practitioner with digital 3 dimensional processes only on the periphery and used in niche applications. Once cut to size, many materials are traditionally formed through impact like the use of hammers or with the help of heat, steam or formed into and over molds. Rabid prototyping is a representing the digital fabrication for this category. For example in contemporary jewelery very detailed 3D wax or polymer prints are used to achieve -  once cast in metal – very unique results.

The third category, fusing, relies heavily on the skilled work of the maker and no influence of any digital technology in this category is evident. All crafts have developed processes of combining materials either two of the same kind or as a mix of different materials. Some are permanent while others can be separated again. These fusing processes include welding, gluing, riveting, stitching, bolting.

Finishing: the treatment of the works surface is typically one of the last steps in the making process, while adding significant value to the finished object, it is time consuming.  Many of the finishing processes are completed by hand. However an increasing number of digital and computer controlled processes are relevant to this category such as digital printing on fabric, laser engraving. Some of the finishing processes are mechanical or chemical and can include techniques such as engraving, polishing, printing, anodizing, lacquering.

Digital fabrication has without doubt much to offer for contemporary craft practice and over time will get more important for the contemporary designer maker. By becoming more accessible digital fabrication has the potential to contribute significantly across the entire making processes.

To integrate these technologies with traditional tools the maker has to add the required digital skills to the tool set as well. Just about all cutting processes I mentioned are based on the ability to generate vector based drawings. These would require a basic knowledge of a software such as Illustrator.

To address rapid prototyping processes, one has to master a CAD program first. Typically this requires a much steeper learning curve until one is able to create a well-formed 3D computer model. However non of these skills can’t be learned (or taught for that matter).

Together with an increasingly fast, accessible internet and more user friendly web 2 services, digital fabrication is ready to be explored creatively.

Light objects for Art School Library, making

This post describes some technical and making aspects of the Light objects for the ANU School of Art library. You can read more about the design aspects here.

reading pit at ANU School of Art

During the making of these lights a mix of manual and digital fabrication processes have been used.  Brass and aluminium pieces have been laser cut while the translucent red elements had been rapid prototyped by ‘Rapid Pro‘ in Victoria, Australia.

The black curved arms are five 2.5mm layers aluminium, riveted together to create an inside channel concealing the cables up to the brass cylinder. They have been laser cut locally in Canberra by Acuform.  The cylinder forms a central hub from which four conical carbon fiber tubes stretch out and support two light heads on each lamp. The lights have a wingspan of 1.4 meter.

right of two light objects

Each light head has six one-watt LEDs. The LEDs are mounted on a decorative brass cooling plate (cut by Ponoko) and are cooled by a fan. The following parts had been used: LED ring with six one watt LED (LSP6-WW-XXX) and Controller/Driver (MDU9-SC-3570) from Future Electronics. All elements are enclosed by ABS housings. These housings are rapid-prototyped using translucent red FDM material from ‘Stratasys’.

Three views of the light head

Views of light head

The curved aluminium arm extent from the main brass fitting which is strapped onto the existing column with an aluminium strip. This strip has custom brass connectors to adjust the tension of the strapping.

Main bracket and centre bracket

The electronics – led drivers and fan power supplies – are placed inside the void between the column and the main brass fitting. The 12 volt fans are driven by 6 volt power-supplies letting them run without developing noise. Before the installation the lights had been tested for several days.

Light objects for Art School Library, design

In December 2009 I installed two light objects in the library at the ANU School of Art. Please find a post about the making of these lights here.

reading pit at ANU School of Art

These two lights provide four ‘highlighted’ spots for reading or lab top use within the reading pit. The design intent was to connect the space inside the glass walls of the reading pit with the surrounding architecture. The objects themselves should have a mechanical but yet organic feel to them. I used the two columns on either side of the reading pit as anchor points from which the lights reach over the seating area in a ‘branch and twig’ fashion. All brass parts of these lights – being cylinders of sorts – referring to these columns. The lights are lightly strapped to the columns highlighting their light weight construction. The colours have been limited to Brass (gold), black and red.

right of two light objects

The lights are made of aluminium (powder coated black), brass, carbon fiber tubes and LEDs.

one of four light heads

one of four light heads

The designs on the glass panels and on the fabric on the cushions are by Annie Trevillian. Many thanks also to Irene Hansen (head librarian) and Murray Napier for their support of this project.


images of work

curve straight gold 1 1024

curve-curve red

Wave two line 1

More Photos

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