Digital Fabrication Lab
The College of Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has professional quality fabrication facilities for all CABE students to utilize for their model-making or design projects. These include a full shop for working with wood, plastic, and metal; two Universal Laser Systems VLS6.60 cutters; a Techno CNC HD 4896 CNC router; Makerbot 3D printers; and a Makerbot Digitizer 3D scanner. All the digital fabrication equipment is run by trained operators, which may include you after proper training. Each technology has a section below describing the offerings.
Our facilities are available seven days a week for students.
In the Weber building on the Ravenhill side of campus, CABE has a well-apportioned modelmaking shop that is maintained year round by our staff. The shop has a dozen worktables for your projects, woodworking tools, metal tools, and some tools specific to modelmaking like the miniature table saw. Weber also has a spray paint cabinet, SawStop table saw, jointer, planer, router table, and multiple bandsaws, scrolls saws and sanders. CABE also has a large collection of hand and power tools for student use. You can purchase 3 types us plywood for use in your project to save a trip to the big box lumber store. Weber building also houses our CNC router. You can use the shop after a short safety training and orientation. Stop by to see if we can help you make something awesome.
The laser cutters are located in room 130 of the SEED building. Laser cutting is a great way to make complex or repetitive forms in paper, cardboard, acrylic, and many other materials as described below. Laser cutting requires a vector file generated by your favorite CAD program. Laser access is usually limited to those students enrolled in a Design 3 class or higher, but any professor can allow their students access. The laser lab operates as a job shop, where students bring their materials, files, ID card, and a printed laser form during open hours. Jobs are cut in the order they arrive. Laser time is charged at $0.20 per minute via a Campus Card swipe and pulled from the “declining balance” account. The lasers are unable to read text objects. You must explode your text into lines. Stencil fonts are available online.
We currently operate eight Ultimaker 2+ printers located directly in the architecture studios and our resources are always updating to use the most reliable and affordable machines. 3D printing is a great solution to a lot of modelmaking problems and can easily be incorporated into your work with CAD. Any CAD program can output files for 3D printing. Complexity is no challenge for these machines. Whether you need 20 slightly different columns for a model or an incredibly complex lattice, 3D printing is a great option.
Our 2 FormLabs Vat Photopolymerization 3D printers are located in SEED room 130. Vat Pho printers use a high detail UV cured resin to produce solid parts. The machines are maintained by shop staff, but operated by trained students like yourself. Ask your professor if 3D printing is right for your project.
Our 3-axis CNC mill is located in the Weber shop and is a great resource for large contours, massing models, and even fine woodworking. CNC milling is a subtractive manufacturing process. Spinning knives carve away material much like a marble sculptor until all that remains is your design. There are many materials available for use, but the most common are wood, foam, and plastic. Our machine has a working volume of 48” x 96” x 7”. We don’t cut metal on this machine, but there are other CNCs on campus that do.
The CNC router is the most complex digital tool that we use, and as such, you should build your skills over whole semester if you would like to use the CNC on a final project. Training is provided in certain classes, via scheduled workshops, or by private training. When using the machine our trained shop monitors will check your toolpaths and help you set up the machine. You are required to monitor the CNC while it cuts to ensure your part is cut correctly. The CNC mill is free to use, but you pay with your limited time. Ask your professor if your project could benefit from CNC milling.
If you have questions about use of CABE resources please drop by the shops to speak with a shop monitor, call 215-951-2590, or contact Chris Thompson, Digital Fabrication Lab Resource Manager