CAD/CAM: Introduction to Applications in Architecture

Seminar, limited enrollmentComputer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) techniques have widely pervaded fabrication environments for the production of architecture. Knowledge of this technology now has become part of the basic skills that design professionals need to possess in order to practice successfully. This seminar introduces students to the fundamentals of CAD/CAM, with a particular focus on applications in architecture, and with reference to product design and related industries. In a two step approach fundamentals are taught first, and their applications in a research context is pursued next. This year a particular focus is placed on processes and technologies used in manipulating metal. Students are expected to explore metal technologies in their research, and contacts to outside vendors have been established by the instructor to allow the production of castings or sheet metal prototypes that cannot be done in house.A core question of the course will be how building design and component design has been affected by digital design and production techniques methods – methods that allow architects and designers to move beyond conventional design paradigms. In the pursuit of this question students are introduced to the principles of parametric digital modeling, numerically-controlled machines, basic manufacturing processes as well as prototyping techniques, reverse engineering and building systems. Lectures on these topics are accompanied by software and machine demos and lab sessions that introduce both the digital as well as the fabrication environments.This course uses the GSD\’s extensive computer-numerically controlled (CNC) fabrication facilities, as well as the traditional wood- and metal shop. Students are expected to immerse themselves in the software applications needed to generate parametric models (using so-called design development environments such as SolidWorks or Catia) and the machine instructions necessary to operate CNC machines. Two short digital and design-to-prototype exercises allow students to acquire new design and prototyping techniques representative of the digital fabrication age. A longer, final project allows the in-depth pursuit of individual design to fabrication research that explores metallic material formations. The seminar research will also be manifest in an aural presentation that all students will give in class.The research on CAD/CAM technology in the design profession is contextualized through case studies and visits to local job and prototyping shops — thus providing the needed reality context of CAD/CAM implementations in practice. Students are encouraged to move beyond the current GSD fabrication possibilities by using local outside vendors that produce castings or provide plasma- or water jet cutting services. The final product of the course should be a compelling physical prototype that shows innovative use of CAD/CAM technology. Students can choose to emphasize digital or fabrication aspects, but all have to address both worlds to some degree.Prerequisites: GSD 2107, GSD 6203 or equivalent.