Archive for the 'ponoko' 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

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

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.

Obrut light

I designed this light object with the idea to further integrate web2 based fabrication with my craft practice. The shade, base and fixture for the light emitter (LED) are all laser cut by Ponoko. I look forward to try a variety of materials for the base including acrylic using ‘iMacy’ colours, bamboo and metals. The shade is white felt or polypropylene.

Obrut light


The shade simply snaps into the base and forms a dome covering the warm-white 1 watt LED. A metal fixture holds the LED the switch and functions as cooling surface.

Obrut parts

Base - black acrylic, shade ploypropylene

Obrut switch 390

Shade close up with switch

Environmental aspects of this object: The LEDs used are highly energy efficient and have an expected life span of about 5 years of continuous operation till reaching 70% of their original brightness. All parts can be dissembled for recycling.


images of work

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