Exploring New Fabrication Methods

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Our recent move to the new lab space has given us a lot more.. Well… space! Today, rather than a small corner with a couple of 3D Printers, we have two large rooms dedicated solely to fabrication. Each room is fully equipped with machines and tools that assist us in building, collaborating and inventing new technologies. The first room is dedicated to additive manufacturing for delicate and “clean” fabrication. Inside, you will find a range of 3D printers and electronics. The second room on the other hand, contains machinery and tools used for “dirtier” work such as, woodworking and subtractive manufacturing.

Subtractive manufacturing is a process by which one takes a block of material and removes parts of it until they are left with the model they want. For example, the laser cutter, is subtractive technology that cuts precise pieces/ patterns out of a wooden plank. In contrast, additive technologies create exactly what we want; they use 100% of the given material and combine it to produce the desired model. For example, 3D printers that use a spool of plastic to create specified models.
We felt that we have enough additive machines in the lab, so we ventured forth into the subtractive field. We acquired several powerful machines to assist us in the process of creating better physical prototypes: drill press to drill holes into different materials, a scroll saw which is a narrow-bladed automatic saw for cutting decorative spiral lines or patterns, a multitool for delicate drilling /polishing /carving of different material, and last but not least, the ShopBot Desktop. This piece of high end machinery is an excellent CNC machine. It can take a thick piece of material and carve it to form elaborate models. Using the appropriate tool , the machine hacks away at a block of selected material, refines and reforms it to produce a model of choice. This is something that we could not do before – sure, we had our laser cutter – but it can only manage very thin planks. With the ShopBot Desktop , we can now recreate almost all of our prototypes (most of them made by 3D printers) using solid wood. It’s interesting to learn and see which material fits best for which purpose. We definitely won’t neglect our 3D printers, but it’s always interesting try out something completely new. More updates coming soon.

Eran Rothfeld, Operation Manager at the IDC MiLAB.
The picture was taken by: Hasan Abo-Shally.

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