CIEE Global Fab Lab - Experimental Fabrication Research
The Global Institute Fab Lab is a key resource of
both of which aim to improve the cities and structures we inhabit through innovative and cutting-edge design and research. To explore and further these ideas, digital fabrication plays a pivotal role not only in the future of design and construction, but in a student’s ability to explore, examine and learn from the potential of their own ideas.
Digital fabrication is a process that merges design and rapid prototyping or production. The Fab Lab uses Rhinocerous and various CAM software to explore the relationship and capabilities of digital design and real-world production. The process explores advanced geometries and morphologies with exciting implications for the future of design, buildings, and cities. Digital fabrication enables designers to realize more complex design and provides essential training on the systemization and process. Experiments in Growth-Algorithm-Derived Geometry Additive Manufacture
The Global Institute Fab Lab is equipped with a standard woodshop and two 3D printers, including a large-format Gigabot machine – designed to fabricate large-scale (600mm x 600mm x 600mm) models and prototypes, as well as a 3-axis Computer Node Controlled machine, which allows for milling an assortment of material types including woods and soft metals. 3D Printing is a process of additive manufacture, where various materials are layered in a small amount resulting in an object, while milling is a process of subtractive manufacture. The combination having both additive and subtractive manufacturing in one lab enables not only a large range of prototyping options, but the unique ability to combine techniques and explore material properties on a speculative level. Typically students will begin learning on smaller desktop machines and gradually advance to large machines for full-scale prototyping.
Through these processes anyone can learn to make innovative prototypes. These technologies are increasingly affordable and available to small groups and individuals. We believe that these process will be invaluable to future designers, engineers, and makers in general.
The Lab is available for student use 24/7 and students are encouraged to invent explore and play freely, to learn to become tomorrow's innovators!
GUEST RESEARCH - HYDRODYNAMIC MORPHOLOGY
The CIEE Global Institute in Berlin welcomes its first guest researcher Benjamin James. Ben is here to optimize and test equipment in the Global Institute Fab Lab, furthering academic research into the relationships between hydrodynamics, design and fabrication!
Ben is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, the Architectural Institute in Prague, and the CIEE Global Architecture and Design Program based in Prague. He is here working on improvements to the existing fabrication machines of CIEE Berlin and testing those machines to prototype a series of experimental furniture designs parametrically derived by fluid dynamics as part of a project called Desén.
The collaboration is in the spirit of the Global Architecture and Design program which aims to generate new ideas through increased interaction between cultures, students and cities, and it furthers academic study into an innovative new avenue of design: Desén explores what happens to objects as they become deformed and reformed by natural processes.
Ben is researching what happens when computational fluid dynamic algorithms (typically used in marine and aerospace applications) are applied to furniture forms. The resulting geometry is then subjected to structural testing through finite element analysis software and ultimately prepared for fabrication via a series of slicing softwares and meshing tools designed primarily for architecture and construction. The entire process has been designed to be largely automated using open source software and python scripting, which partially removes the designer from the process of the design. As a result, some geometry is not practical, and the idea goes against some current trends into performative-based architecture parameterisation.
This research raises questions about the boundaries of design between physics, nature, engineering and fabrication. It pushes us to consider new applications of algorithmic thought from disciplines traditionally disconnected with aesthetics.
Ben is using the Fab Lab to experiment with how to realise fluid geometries created through environmental simulation and frozen at a moment in time: understanding how models with no traditional means of fabrication can be transferred from the digital to physical realm – the same problem many students of speculative architecture face. To do this, he has built some new add-ons to the existing equipment (like a vacuum table for the CNC machine and limit switches for the 3D printer) as well as introduced new software and protocols that can be used by students in future semesters.
"This lab offers an incredible opportunity to connect fabrication directly with design - the equipment is spectacular, all open source and very capable. I've been able to make a few improvements both to the hardware and software to facilitate prototyping of the complex geometries I'm working with, and I'm envious of the students that will use this for their academic works, as it has certainly been a catalyst for my research. I would like to sincerely thank the many people who helped set this up, especially Lukas Kronawitter, Chris Tschersich, Marien Zeffel, Martin Gsandtner, and the Global Institute’s Academic Director Martin Kley and Director Cary Nathenson.”
– Ben James (Former CIEE Student and Guest Researcher)
For more information about Ben's Desén project check it out here: www.desen.cz