BEND will explore the formal potential of designs produced using CNC Wire Forming machinery. It is the first of a series of workshops coupling parametric tools with a specific industry fabrication process. The workshop will begin by introducing participants to parametric geometry and investigate the language of wire forms through a pair of physical prototypes designed and documented using grasshopper and built using a two axis wire-bending jig. Finally participants will be asked to speculate on the advantages of using a CNC driven process and more advanced parametric tools through short design esquisses, culminating in the fabrication and installation of the final design and exhibition at the studio space.
Cross platform design
Digitise material constraints
Learn through making
CNC wire forming has been selected because it is a well established industry that is typically used for the mass manufacture of identical components yet because of it being a CNC process is capable of mass customisation as well as optimisation through the automated generation of code. Despite this the design process typically used is relatively archaic, with designers supplying 2d documentation to the fabricator who produce parts in large runs quailty tested through a process of trial and error. The machine code is simplistic and (as far as we are aware) there has not been significant exploration of the potential automation of this process of code generation or the use of this process to achieve mass customisation.
To optimise the CNC wire forming process allowing the mass production of customised components at an affordable price ExLab have developed a see-saw script that generates CNC gcode from inputted splines, and allows the forming process to be simulated from this code to avoid defects produced by bending the part into the machine. By generating code automatically the labour time for part production is reduced (eliminated) increasing cost efficiency for unique parts. Part complexity is facilitated by rationalising curves into faceted splines, allowing for double-curved geometries that would have been near-impossible to fabricate through 2d documentation and limited labor resources.
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