Tensions with old and new…

(Final artifact)

For this project, we looked at how 3D fabrication and traditional craft methods could be combined to purpose a new and experimental materiality from it.

Initial thoughts and ideas…

(image 1) CNC cut Half-lapped Dovetail Joint in scrap wood

I decided to explore the theme of having a traditional craft, and then experimenting with how that could then be 3D printed using a variety of machines. I Found Japanese joinery of particular interest as it takes a great amount of skill and craftsmanship to create the intricate details and precision that is required for buildings or other structures. There is also an aesthetic as much as there is a function, there needs to be strength but equally a small amount of flexibility for the joints to move should there ever be an earthquake.

(image 2) Half-lapped Dovetail Joint – 3D printed

The images, show my attempt at using both CNC and 3D printing to create a half-lapped dove tail joint. I wanted to explore how two modern technologies through the method of traditional craft could combine together as one joint. I used Fusion 360 for the modelling and had no issues, until it came to the CNC machine. The CNC is limited to how much it can cut away due to its X, Y axis and round drill bits. This creates curves (radius depending on size of drill bit) and so it meant I could not fuse the two processes as one without there being some small curves.

(image 3) Curves can been seen in the corners
(image 4) Fusion 360 japanese joinery ready for 3D printing

Since realising the CNC machine is limited for what I wanted to try and achieve, I decided to experiment with some more complex forms to then 3D print.

(image 5) finished cross joint

I decided from here to avert my attention elsewhere as I felt slightly limited with my ambitions and the limitations CNC for woodcutting presented.

(image 6) Plasma Metal cutting stainless steel and 3D printing combined

As I adverted my attention away from Japanese Joinery, I started to look at how metal can be worked, and what is often considered possible in terms of size and scale on such an industrial piece of machinery.

I decided to further experiment with this juxtaposition of intricate pieces (joinery) and how that can be assembled in new ways whilst operating with robust machinery such as the Plasma cutter. I used AutoCad for the shapes and then proceeded to use the CNC plasma cutter.

Initially, my first experiments failed and fell through the gaps from the force. Still, I wanted to see how small and fine the detail could be until I achieved my goal (see image 6). however, I was still limited with fixing the pieces together as I had initially plasma cut the central circle piece out of stainless steel. There were no grooves for the pieces to slot into and so I commenced my ideas of how to hold the two together as follows:

  • weaving thread around each metal piece
  • gluing
  • sawing
  • soldering

None of these worked for a variety of reasons- the weaving was not strong and the pieces did not stay in place, gluing metal, even with super glue serves no purpose, sawing sort of worked…however it was extremely inaccurate, solder does not stick to steel as it turns out.

One other exploration I wanted to develop was how things can be joined but without the help of welding or combining two things together as one.

As sawing was my best option, I then thought about how other printing methods may just so happen to be extremely useful. As the steel is only 1mm thick, it meant that in order to create a slot, the other material also needed to be 1mm thick.

(image 7) TinkerCAD 3D printed disks

By using the 3D printer I did not need to create an infill due to the thinness of the steel structure being 1mm thick.

Final artifacts

(image 8)

Once I was successful with slotting the pieces into the 3D printed disk, I could then explore materiality and further investigate methods of weaving whilst using natural materials seen in image 8. A mix of wool roven was twisted and woven in and out of the metal piece then I secured the wool with hemp thread, which is a tough thread unlike twine that I used earlier on in the combining process. I used a back stitch technique that not only secures the wool but also creates linear lines up the sides, defining the structure.

(image 9) delicate ultra fine handmade paper

Still keeping the structure, I still wanted to investigate the relationship of how something robust and strong such as metal, can be interlaced with a material as delicate as fine handmade paper. It was difficult to pierce the paper with a needle but managed to successfully thread it through the small holes are the ends.

For me these two final artifacts are extremely valuable to my broadening of how traditional craft and modern 3D fabrication techniques can be combined to create something new.