Here at Makers’ Guild we of course love 3DPrinting. In fact initiating the collective purchase of a Makerbot two and a half years ago was one of the inspirations for the Guild and super informed Rachel Park wrote us a great blog post on 3DPrinting 18 months ago. It is also true as a prototyping technology it has transformed manufacturing over the past 20 years and will become a key maker technology. However…… we feel in just the past few months the hype is charging, at breakneck speeds towards the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’. Hence the decision to hold an event not about 3DPrinting but two people deeply passionate about making with other technologies
First up Jamie Elliot founder of Jailmake introduced his well-equipped Peckham studio. He described his wide-ranging client projects ranging from a custom jewellery roll to pop-up exhibition stalls designed and built in a week for Tom Dixon. Another seriously ‘time constrained’ project he recounted was the Four Day Chairs Four different chairs for four times of the day, designed and hand carved from solid ash in four days. That’s 4. The elegant, portable ‘First Branch’ product enables you to reach that high first branch for tree climbing escapades.
205-200=5 was Jailmake’s studio condensed into 5 sqm (from their 205 sqm space in Peckham hence the name) for London Design festival 2012 and exemplifies how Jamie loves communicating design, making and helping people to learn. Jamie is always teaching clients, employees, friends, anyone who will listen to learn by doing, by breaking, experimenting, collaborating and sharing. I wholeheartedly agree and have long believed it’s crucial for effective design to know the possibilities and limits of materials with which your working in order to exploit them fully. Chris Anderson @chr1sa mentions in his recent book ‘Makers’ how Jim McKelvey founder and Chair of muti-billion $ company square hand built 50 prototypes Square readers himself to fully understand his product, a great example of personal passion. Jamie commented on how hard is to do things in urban setting. e.g. build a log cabin or something from the Global Village Construction Set. He wants to make Jailmake’s workshop more open by taking small local commissions or teaching local communities.
The assembled Makers swooned as Jamie revealled the delights in ‘Home-Made Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts’ [WANT!] and nodded sagely as he mentioned ‘Manufacturing Processes for design professionals’ THE design and making bible.
Rounding off, Jamie listed the serious metal and wood working tools at Jailmake and how he wants to mix them with higher tech CNC machines combining the ease of CAD/CAM with the power of heavy machinery. For example using 3DPrinting (yes that!) for lost plastic casting or combining with other parts in this way 3DPrinters can be seen as ‘just another tool’, part of an extensive kit.
Fiddian then announced a partnership between Jailmake and Makers’ Guild to deliver hands on day workshop sessions at Jailmake’s wonderful studio and use those lovely machines. More on this soon.
Next up was Gregory Epps founder of Robofold. Fiddian recently went to visit his workshop equipped with a big CNC machine and two gorgeous big orange robots, ABB 6400s to be precise. Fiddian rather likes robots!
Greg started folding metal when he was 16, realising that it is wonderful transformational process to make flimsy sheets of stuff beautiful and strong. He wanted to make a mountain bike with folded metal and there his quest to industrialise folding metal began. A while later he realised that robots were the only thing that could automate this spatial process and eventually he got funding to buy some and started Robofold after leaving the Royal College.
He showed a video of how the process works, it looked graceful and simple seeing robot scoring and folding metal. Behind this elegance is Robofold’s clever software turning craft into industrial process thus turning flat sheet metal into complex forms without expensive moulds. It’s natural for sheet materials to want to fold. It’s also 60-80% more efficient to work with folds rather than pressing metals into moulds with great force, saving energy and cost. Folding like this is also accessible, it starts with paper, properties scale well from paper to metals. The first Robofold robot was made from Lego!
A typical development process for Robofold goes something like:
1. Design – Paper Folding. Test if you can fold paper from 3 points.
2. CAD software (in-house designed) allows manipulation of fold angle etc.
3. CAM software (in-house designed) for CNC router and robots
4. Production CNC cutting and scoring
5. Production robots folding
Behind the scenes Robofold had to create whole lot of software and are now developing nice robot simulation software so designers can simulate the process and understand fully what it can provide.
A lovely exemplar of the products of Robofold’s process is ARUM for Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher at the Venice Bienalle, 2012. 488 panels were folded using the same parameters but everyone is different.
Surfaces are a key market sector for Robofold especially building facades. It gives architects the freedom to make many different forms for a similar cost, competing technologies require standardisation to a few patterns to be affordable. Furniture, bowls, lighting, shelving and sculpture can also be Robofolded, parameterised products are in the pipeline.
Greg summed up saying Robofold is an immature technology as is 3DPrinting. Robot forming and 3DPrinting are cheaper than many current production methods but we are only just beginning to understand what they are really good for. As they said ‘the future’s bright, the future’s orange [robots] and OK, OK 3DPrinters too.
Makers’ Guild’s wonderful self appointed official videographer PJ has again uploaded videos of the night to You Tube. Thank you again PJ and here they are:
P.S. It was wonderful to see two people inspired by the evening go right home make stuff and blog about it. Big up @nanoBorg88 for his post making a card ‘almost vase’ and @workshopshed prototyping a jet engine styled folded light Hurray, hurray that’s just what we want to see!
Thank-you again to our kind hosts The Centre for Creative Collaboration