Many different materials can be used in fabrication including metal, plastic, wood, soft foams, fabric, clay, carbon fiber and many more.
Fabrication Design Principles
Triangles are Strong
Triangles are strong, L’s are lame and squares are okay, and circles are amazing but hard to use.
Common Types of Joints
- Butt Joints
- Lap Joints
- Mortise and Tenon Joints
Fabrication Sequencing and Planning
From design to final output, fabrication processes have numerous steps, many that must be completed in sequence. In complex projects multiple fabricators working in different locations will make specific pieces of a design that will be assembled at yet another location. All fabrication projects from the most simple to the most complex benefit from proper planning.
The planning process begins with the initial concept and Sketching . Before any idea or design is committed to, iterative sketching can find potential problems and suggest solutions before any fabrication occurs. As sketches become more refined a 3D Model can be made to test assumptions and to see if pieces will fit together. A list of materials can be estimated from the 3d models and sketches.
It is important to start to think about not only the form of the object but how it will be made. What order of operations is required to make the pieces accurately and efficiently? For example in Woodworking it is usually a good idea to run a board through the jointer before sending it through the thickness planer or to sand a wood surface before applying finisher. Each project will be unique and have different constraints on the fabrication process. Sometimes the budget Will not allow a material or tool to be used, sometimes the time available is not enough to get desired parts or equipment, sometimes a structural limitation of a site will dictate the use of lightweight materials.
- ability to make parts or prepare materials from basic drawings
Digital fabrication uses 3D-Modeling to create digital designs and then outputs the digital model to a physical form. Digital fabrication machines use gcode to translate the shape and size of the 3D model into a specific set of instructions or operations for the machine to execute. Stepper motors, linear rails, proximity sensors, computer vision and other industrial controls keep track of the precise location on the machine and material being fabricated.
Types of Digital Fabrication
uses a high powered laser to cut through wood, metal and plastic. A laser cutter can also etch designs and images.
Machining uses spinning cutters that move along a precise coordinate system.
3D-Printing builds up an object layer by layer. Vinyl Cutting cuts rolls of vinyl based on vector graphic input. Water Jet Cutting uses high powered streams of water carrying abrasive particles to cut through a wide variety of materials.
Jigs hold material or parts in place while a fabrication process is completed. This can help with alignment of an assembly or to allow for repeatable actions to make multiple components to the same size and specification. Jigs are often unique and custom built depending on the project design.
“Calipers may read to a resolution of 0.01 mm or 0.0005 in, but accuracy may not be better than about ±0.02 mm or 0.001 in for 150 mm (6 in) calipers, and worse for longer one.” Wikipedia