Design and Tool Making

The role of tool making in architecture and product design is often an ignored part of the process. For this seven week design exercise, I partnered up with fellow classmate Hank Butitta to develop a series of analog and digital tools to assist in the fabrication of the QuaDror geometry as designed by Dror Benshetrit of Studio Dror.

We isolated the 3-axis CNC routing machine as the ideal CAD/CAM machinery to design our manufacturing process around because it represents the most accessible type of CNC equipment. In theory, this process could be replicated at any of the thousands of cabinet shops in the country that have access to a 3-axis CNC machine.

We developed two different types of processes for two different types of products; a high-end hardwood version and low-end plywood version. The hardwood system was optimized for speed and efficiency. We built off of a Grasshopper definition that was provided by Dror that is used by his office to define the articulating QuaDror geometry by inputting the desired width and height. Our modifications would automatically create and bake the Rhino curves into layers that would create a toolpath that could be used for the three different routers that we were using (dovetail, chamfer and 1/2" endmill). The hardwood version couldn't be simplified to a degree that we could just lay our stock material on the bed of the CNC machine and mill the desired shape. Instead we had to create a jig that would place the part in the correct location and allow us to flip the stock after the first pass and place the piece in the correct location for milling on the reverse side.