FAB 3: Shattered, does it matter?

This week’s assignment was to make something out of acrylic using the laser cutter.

Easy peasy. I have been meaning to do a Voronoi lamp for the longest time and finally, it’s time to scratch that itch. So, off to p5 I went. Now, things are much easier compared to the last time I worked with voronois and guess what? there are libraries for that now.

After playing around with the shapes and size, I brought a few patterns that I liked into Illustrator. I played around with the dimensions of my box and tried to find a cross-section that won’t have very tiny shapes that might mess up with the laser cutter.

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Once I had that, it was time to find the material. Now, my original plan was to have 6-10 colors but looking at the costs and the availability of plastics, I brought it down to 4.

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I separated the colors into individual files for each color and off to the laser printer I went. Cutting the pieces was pretty uneventful except the part where I lost a nice slab of acrylic to the 75w printer which refused to work. (The cutting gods always demand a sacrifice) and within 45 minutes I had all my pieces. (easy peasy!)

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Sticking the acrylic was a different monster altogether. The adhesive that I had was so runny that it was making my life miserable. But thankfully, Lydia got me out of a soup and loaned her rubber cement to me which made my life so much easier. And voila, within 2 hours I had a lamp!

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All I need to do is find some LEDs to light it up and it shall be AMAZING!.

Fab 2: This is a drill. Repeat.

For the 2nd fabrication assignment, we had to make 5 repeating shapes of the same dimension. I was still hung up on making lamps and I wanted to combine wood and silicon in such a way that the 2 materials are interlocked with each other. My idea was to split the wood into multiple sections and then fill silicon between them as you can see in the figure below (the black area is the silicon):

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I wanted to illuminate it from the bottom and the angled cuts appealed to me more. I came up with the straight cut option as a backup plan (2 months in ITP has taught me that at least!) and set off on my merry way.

I found a piece of squarish wood from the shop spring cleaning that I cut into wooden blocks using the miter saw.

The next task was to create equal blocks which was achieved using a pencil, ruler, miter saw and the sander.

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I forgot to clamp the first piece and lost the whole piece as it flew away and smashed on the wall. Never forget to clamp the wood, kids!

Thankfully, I had extra wood and the breakage proved to be a minor inconvenience.

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I traced the diagonal cut shape and went at it with a band saw and sander. I got the shape I wanted but problems were immediately apparent:

1) The sander eats through tiny pieces of wood. The piece on the middle-right became smaller than the rest in no time.

2) With the diagonal cut, it becomes very hard to keep track of the perpendicular surfaces and tracking the relative position to each other.

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In the interest of time, I decided to go with the straight cuts and eliminate the smaller pieces once they are cut.

Measure and draw clearly marked go-no go lines.

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Put your trust and full attention in the band saw and sander.

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Cut small dowels and glue them in.

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Wait for a few hours and voila! You have your wood shape.

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I did not get any time to pour and cure the silicon but that’s next on the item list as soon as the class is done!

Reflections:

1) The first prototype sucks. ALWAYS. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. In hindsight, I should have made one and then made the others.

2) The hardness of wood varies so much that it’s not always possible to predict its actual behavior on the cutter and the sander from the sketch.

3) MEASURE TWICE. DON’T MESS UP YOUR PERPENDICULAR SIDES. DRILL SLOW.

4) Sanding eats into wood fast and measurements go for a toss. The sandpaper is slower but you are in so much more control.

Bonus picture of leftovers:

Fab 1: Welcome to the machine

For our first “Intro to Fabrication“ class assignment, we had to make a light-switch. The rules were pretty simple:

  • It should be portable.

  • It should create light.

I went through all the other weeks’ assignments and I realised that it was going to be the most open ended assignment that we have in Fabrication. So instead of working with wood, acrylic or any other material that is going to be used in the class, I wanted to use something that I will not be able to use again. I had some silicon lying around after my mid-term adventure and I was like “Why not?“. What I wanted to do was make a silicon shape that looked with no exposed electronics outside but it lights up once you touch or squeeze it.

As a first step, I cooked up a batch of silicon and added acrylic color to it to create a batch of colored silicon.

 All the material in the picture above were found in the junk shop. YASS.

All the material in the picture above were found in the junk shop. YASS.

Adding the color to the silicon made it cure faster. Weird but I wasn’t complaining. Some That ITP friends pointed out a thai sweet called Khanom chan. The next step was to figure out how to cut it and that’s where I made a big, big mistake. Cutting silicon with a cold razor was a bad idea and I completely messed up the cuts.

Physically hurts to see this disaster of a cut. Ugh.

But Anyways, I soldiered on and cut a small air-pocket inside to fit the LEDs, battery and wire. the Leds were packed on top of a battery and i made a copper contact that hovers over the battery and gets connected when you squeeze the top. With some trial and error, i got it working and slathered some fresh silicon in a clamp and prayed.

4 hours later, It worked! Here’s the video:

Woohoo! Pretty satisfying except the shitty shitty cuts. Oh well, Onto the next one!