CAD/CAM: Introduction to Applications in Architecture

Computer-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. Fundamental principles and technologies are taught through a combination of lectures, labs and hands-on workshops. Field trips to local manufacturers provide a real-world exposure to the implementation challenges of cad/cam technologies in the professional context.This year a particular focus is placed on understanding the conditions for the design and production of varied components and products. The need for repetition of identical elements has limited architectural design since the introduction of industrially produced products and components. Indeed, the building industry remains largely geared towards the repeated use of identical elements — both for the sake of economy in design as well as in fabrication and installation. Recently the term \”mass-customization\” has been extensively used to describe this new paradigm of varied production. The course will look critically at the challenge of customization in the context of the design and production of architecture and of products, and explore these questions through a concise research assignment and three short projects.The lectures introduce students to the principles of parametric digital modeling, numerically-controlled machines, basic manufacturing processes as well as prototyping techniques, reverse engineering, building systems and customization strategies. They are accompanied by software tutorials, machine demos, and lab sessions that introduce both the digital design environments as well as the computer-numerically controlled fabrication environments. Students are expected to complete three short design-to fabrication assignments, as well as present a focused research study to the class.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 Digital Project) and the machine instructions necessary to operate CNC machines (MasterCAM). Particular focus this year will be an introduction to working with the newly installed robotic waterjet and with the new CNC knee mill. Use of the laser cutters and the 3D printers (rapid prototyping) will be expected as well.In order to address real-world issues of fabrication we will concentrate on the use of metal in student\’s fabrication projects. Other materials will have a role in design development and prototyping. The GSD\’s shops are equipped for machining metal and for working with sheet metal. Projects that require casting will have to be outsourced to local casting companies. Material costs will have to be covered by students.Prerequisites: GSD 2107, GSD 6203 or equivalent