Author Archives: 05 Kurt Huizenga

CNC Maching: Group Research Project

The group’s primary focus was directed at research into Computer Numeric Controlled machines both from a theoretical as well as a practical, and resource availability standpoint.  This research covered topics such as the general history of CNC technology, local and available machining options for DAAP students in the Cincinnati area, and case studies used as example.

The first Computer Numeric Controlled machines were developed in the 1950’s and employed computing power which we consider today to be rudimentary.  The basic design of CNC mills has remained unchanged, and thus the major developments have all been associated with increasing the accuracy and software programming power of the associated computer controllers.  The workflow at a basic level involves a 3D modeling program, CAM program such as Powermill, and finally the machine itself.  Because the essence of the machine itself remains unchanged, most of the notable work done with CNC machining is as a result of adept use of Powermill and tool path mapping.  By manipulating the data flow from program to program, and finally into material phase, highly expressive patterns can emerge from the nature of the tool and materials being used.  This is particularly interesting in the way that the emergent patterns and final resultant form cannot be fully predicted or understood beforehand, varying with material properties.

Because of the automation and continuity of data flow from the digital realm to the physical, highly accurate parts can be fabricated and assembled in very short time.  Creating a kit of parts from which to execute a design in many ways comes down to clicking “print.”  Not only this but Models and components can be “assembled digitally” many times in a computer modeling program to work out construction problems before any material is cut.  In this way there are fewer hang-ups and surprises during the construction phase.  Major notable works of architecture have been executed in this fashion, to include the birds nest and water cube buildings for the Beijing Olympics, as well as the work of Frank Gehry.  This type of approach has opened up a whole new world of architectural form possibilities and will continue to do so.

Within DAAP, as well as the surrounding Cincinnati area there are many digital fabrication resources with varying cost and capability.  Within DAAP there are 3 CNC machines available, the Komo and the Bridgeport being run by the rapid prototyping center, and the Autoprofiler being run by the model shop.  Each of these holds particular strengths and weaknesses that must be balanced to the individual needs of the project as well as capabilities of the designer.  With any of these options, the key to success lies in the control of the software program.  Beyond DAAP, a very popular option is through Basermatter, which offers a similar capability set, at competitive price.

Alternative strategies which are up and coming in computer controlled fabrication and execution are in retrofitting.  Rather than a mill bit, new machines are incorporating an ink liner such as a pen or Sharpie marker.  This results in computer generated and highly detailed and accurate 2-D Patterning in a different form than a straightforward print.  The reason this is innovative is that the motion of the machine mimics hand-drawing techniques and create dynamic line weights and flowing form that is not pixel based.  There is a strong tendency for designers and design students to lean heavily on digital fabrication and CNC machine capabilities however, fine art students and graphic designers in general do not utilize the resources nearly as much.  An application such as this would provide a different direction for the technology and would bring more disparate disciplines into collaboration.  This has the potential to re-shape the future direction of computer controlled fabrication.

While the capabilities of computer numeric controlled machining and fabrication are often seen to be straightforward and basic, it remains the role of the designer to truly tease out the subtle capabilities that may go unnoticed.  By understanding the nature of the discipline, the nature of the technology, as well as its past uses, full employment of the capabilities of this powerful construction technique are possible.  Each of the particular capabilities as well as limitations inherent to computer controlled manufacturing create very fertile ground for the future development of the industry of machining as well as design, and will define the next generation of architects, construction contractors, as well as artists.

Jesse Larkins

Ross Battoclette

Anjali Patel

Melissa Long,

Kurt Huizenga

Tony Mangione

CNC Milling: Autoprofiler Research

For the research project, my group was concerned primarily with CNC machining processes and the design process interface with this fabrication capability.  My component of this research was directed at understanding the strengths and weaknesses of one of the CNC machines that DAAP owns that is probably the least used by architecture students: the autoprofiler.

I find it very interesting to note that over the course of more than thirty years, the hardware associated with 3-axis mills has not changed in any appreciable way in it’s principal form.  At the core of the CNC machine is a router, and servomotors, neither of which are new or revolutionary.  The autoprofiler makes a ready example of this in its great longevity.  The machine is nearly thirty years old, and while it has it’s drawbacks associated with this age, on a basic level it performs exactly as some of the other more current and advanced machines do.  With this realization came a new appreciation for the simplicity and durability of concept in CNC machine design.

Since the world of the machine remains largely un-changed over the years, the primary advancements are manifested in the control programs and software to manipulate the machine components.  Again using the autoprofiler as example… The machine is thirty years old and is hooked up to a standard desktop computer today.  Imagine the machine when it was first manufactured and when it represented the state of the art.  Now imagine the type of computer that it was associated with.  What were computers like thirty years ago?  This becomes an excellent illustration of how the design has worn the test of time and remains, at its core, a highly relevant tool strategy.  Since the machines have not changed, as stated before, the advancements come in control programs.  From this realization I began investigating Powermill, the program used by DAAP to control all of it’s CNC assets and it’s capabilities.  Using this program, a multiplicity of milling options are available to say the very least.  While most students rely on the default tool path strategies to execute their designs, it is important to keep in mind that the design output the machines are capable of are limited only by the technical savvy of the designer.

What I find particularly great about the autoprofiler is the way in which it is currently used by students.  Because it has limitations due to its setup and size, most students opt to pay the RPC to mill their projects on the larger KOMO router.  This leaves the Autoprofiler relegated to use on small-scale industrial design projects.  It has become the machine to be avoided if possible and thus remains largely an un tapped resource for personal betterment as a designer.

Personally I think that one of the true tests of the skilled designer is one who can use simple, and basic tools and still achieve their design goals.  I think the keys to design lie in the restrictions.  The greater the constraints, the greater the opportunity and necessity for solution.  While the other two CNC mills the RPC owns are impressive and worthy of their fair place, I think the autoprofiler remains a very important resource due to it’s limitations.  It does not have a thousand options for materials, sizes, and mill bit types.  It is very limited.  From a design standpoint this becomes valuable in that it presents very clear-cut and defined parameters with which to work.  Because of this I see the machines limitations as design process enablers.

Concept Proposal. 05 Moyer, Kusuma, Li, Huizenga

Our project proposes a panelized cloud system.  Each panel will be suspended between the fluorescent lights that are existing in the space and will be composed of folded panels which will hang on purlins and create buffer zones to trap and disperse standing reverberations.  The individual The key parameters that are driving the geometry are sound conditions, lighting conditions, and HVAC performance.  By shifting the line of the center crease and thus changing the interval of the baffles different results can be achieved.  Each baffle is also folded along it’s long axis from corner to corner greatly increasing the stiffness of each baffle assembly and increasing the acoustic performance of the ceiling system.

Incorporating multiple panels, the entire ceiling will be designed as one entity thus the lines and angles from one panel will continue on to the adjacent panels creating a sense of design continuity as well as making the acoustic treatment respond to the entire space in unison.

The materials used would incorporate lightweight sheet materials such as corrugated cardboard as well as rigid insulation foam.

P1_Kurt Huizenga_05

Ron Resch was among the first to investigate mathematical and architectural possibilities of surface tessellation in the 1960’s.  Through combining design, art, and mathematics, complex and variated performative surface could be achieved.  Particularly striking about Resch’s work is that it is origami based using sheets of paper.  As an acoustic installation this could be of great benefit however, even the formal characteristics being applied to an assembly type construction would have great impact on the spatial acoustic quality.