Category Archives: Fabrication

Digital Fabrication

Digital fabrication is a way to take various forms of design modeled on 3D computer software, and constructing it physically using additive and subtractive methods through a variety of machines such as laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC mills, etc. While these kinds of technology is often used by companies in the industry, the advancement of technology has made these machines more accessible to students, and almost anyone who is interested.

Syracuse University is home to some of the best design majors in the country. One of the ways it manages to stay ahead and maintain it’s reputation is by keeping up to date with technology and technological trends. While the foundation of design is often starting by creating designs, models, prototypes by hand, as students advance their knowledge in their fields, it is important to be able to provide the latest opportunities, and Syracuse University definitely does this. Digital fabrication is one way to explore new trends in the world and there are a variety of on campus opportunities for digital fabrication. Between Slocum Hall and the Warehouse downtown, students are able to use a variety of resources available right here on campus. Furthermore, companies like Falco Industries offer alternate, perhaps more professional resource options.

3D printing is just recently becoming more publicly aware. However, behind the scenes, the technology is advancing fast. From 3D printed dresses, cars, houses and even ears and arms, the possibilities are infinite. With this addition to SyrGuide, you will be able to “Discover Syracuse” in a different way, and recognize the facilities that are offered at Syracuse University and the city of Syracuse.

Locations for Digital Fabrication

Falco Industries
Slocum Hall
SU Warehouse

Different kinds of Digital Fabrication
3D Print
Laser Cutter
CNC Mill
Vacuum Forming

Fabrication Resources at the Falso Industries (Syracuse)

Falso Industries is a “custom manufacturer” right here in Syracuse. It was established in 1950, and switched to a new partnership between two cousins, Raymond Falso and Richard Lorio, to bring Falso Industries. They doubled their sales by refocusing their company and expanding.They specialize in precisely manufactured metal parts custom made for a variety of situations. According to their website, they work in “electronics, scientific and testing equipment, consumer products, industrial processing and machinery and the transportation industry.”

The company will often create lots from one to as many as a thousand parts. They advertise themselves as being the leader of the industry in the area, by offering very high end quality. They constantly keep their staff and software up to date in order to offer the latest and greatest options for their clients. They claim to reinvent themselves, which, in an industry which is constantly changing and upgrading, is a very important factor to consider.The company offers Laser Cutting, 3D Printing and “Metal Fabrication”. More details about these specific services can be found in their respective categories within the Digital Fabrication category of SyrGuide.Just by simply browsing Falso Industries’ Facebook page, any user can get a sense of the quality of their work. They have worked with companies such Tesla and Breitling to work on their display cases. They have helped Empire Brewery, a local restaurant and brewery, to create custom bottle openers and they have designed the new directory signage at Destiny USA. These examples represent how broad their range of work is, at various scales and details. Furthermore, they own the same 3D print machine which was used in order to create a prosthetic arm for a young girl with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). While Falso Industries did not have something directly to do with this, it just shows how up-to-date they are with their technology.

 

Fabrication Resources at the Slocum Hall Building (On-Campus)

Slocum Hall is the home of the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. The building houses all years of architects and holds all of the architecture classes offered at the University. It is also home to two computer labs, a plot room, a wood shop, laser cutters, cnc mill, 3D printers, and a vacuum former. While the wood shop and the plot room have students to run the services till late at night, other facilities are run by specific staff and are kept very up to date with technology. The machines are all located on the ground floor of Slocum Hall. Once you submit a file, it’s first come-first served. So if there is line, you would need to wait. This is one of the reasons it’s important to recognize the various options available to fabricate. All files are submitted digitally through the School of Architecture computers.

UPDATE (October 28, 2013): It is confirmed that non-architecture students will NOT be able to use the digital fabrication facilities at Slocum Hall. In an email from the computer consultants at the School of Architecture, the primary reason that non-architecture students cannot use the services is because they do not have login accounts for the labs at Slocum Hall, and therefore have no way of being charged for the use of the machines.

See location and street view below:

Fabrication Resources at the SU Warehouse Building (Downtown)

The warehouse downtown is home to many design majors and holds a variety of classes. The building is home to the Industrial Design studio which, similar to Architecture, also benefits greatly from digital fabrication methods available. The Warehouse operates laser cutters, 3D printers, and a CNC Mill. Similar to the culture at Slocum Hall, the services are run by staff with a great range of student support at the Warehouse. The machines are located on the ground floor of the Warehouse. Once you enter from the main entrance, take a left, pass security, and you will see the CNC mill behind a glass panel! Once you submit a file, it’s first come-first served, just like Slocum Hall. All files are submitted digitally via email at [email protected] The machines are available to all students.

3D Print

What is 3D printing?

3D printing might be a new term for many people. The idea of printing something in three dimensions might be strange and futuristic idea. However, the technology has been around for decades and various companies use 3D printing for all sorts of applications. The concept is quite simple; print something layer by layer, until the entire object is built. Nike, for example, use 3D printers to create mock-up prints of their new shoe designs in various colors.

Today, 3D printers are a lot faster, more universal, and very importantly, more affordable. That means that it is a lot more accessible for public use. Here at Syracuse University, 3D printing is an important part of the family of digital fabrication. Located at Slocum Hall, the School of Architecture houses two 3D printers; Invasion and Zcorp.

SU Locations for 3D printing: Slocum Hall

Printers

Invasion is arguably the ‘better’ 3D printer. It creates models out of plastic, as opposed to powder. Plastic often means strong and more durable. The material is translucent and allows for a coating of paint, but is not necessary. When the print comes out, it is entirely covered in wax. Within the wax mold is the 3D printed plastic model. The wax acts purely as a support system while the model is being printed. The plastic, which is the 3D printed model, is set into place using ultra violet light. Once the model is completed, the wax support is melted off and finally dusted away. The ‘bed’, which is the volume in which the model can be made in, is 11.75” by 7.3” by 8.2”.

Zcorp is known as the more brittle version of 3D printing, but it is more appropriate to use in some cases. The models are made with the same concept as Invasion, and other 3D printers, but instead uses a powder-like white composite material, and holds it together using a special adhesive. One thing which arguably makes Zcorp more advanced than Invasion is the fact that it uses the same material it builds with as support. This means that once the support is differentiated, it can be recycled and reused for the next model. Additionally, the bed of the printer is 10” by 8” by 8”, allowing for bigger models to be made.

Cost

The cost is calculated very fairly by the amount of material used to make the model. This takes into account the amount of material used, and the amount of time and energy used by the machine. These variables can be calculated accurately as both are directly related to the weight and size of the model. Invasion exposes it’s drawback at this stage as it charges for both the building material, plastic, and the support material, wax. Furthermore, the wax, as mentioned before, is melted and thrown away post production. The Zcorp charges only for the powder used, which makes models in this printer cheaper.

SU Locations for 3D printing: SU Warehouse

Printer

Falso Industries offers a higher end kind of 3D printing. As mentioned in their company profile, Falso Industries works with a lot of high end clientele in order to create products at a very high quality. Unfortunately, this means that their products, especially 3D printing, becomes more expensive. However, as a design major student who might be interested in creating a prototype for a project, this is the perfect resources. Falso Industries uses a 3D printer which prints using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). While this material is more expensive, it is one of the leading 3D printing materials. It is an engineered polymer used for it’s strength as a final product and it’s durability. For example, it is what Lego pieces are made of, which is the ultimate balance between weight and strength. In recent news, a prosthetic arm support was 3D printed for a young girl.

Cost

The cost of the 3D print will vary on the level of detail with which it is printed. This is measured by accuracy, which ranges from measurements from 0.005” slice height, to 0.013” slice height. While these measurements are not too far apart from each other, it will make a significant difference in the final product. As an idea for price comparison, something which cost approximately $35 to print at the Slocum Hall power 3D printer, it would cost $300 using ABS. For more details on specific models, contact them through their website at falsoindustries.com in order to ask for a quote. In my experience, they will reply in a few hours.

SU Warehouse
Printer
The 3D printer is different from the kind used at Slocum Hall, and at Falso Industries. This essentially gives students a 4th option to 3D print. While the 3D printers at Slocum can be more for experimental, quick models, and the 3D printer at Falso Industries is more for permanent prototypes, the Warehouse offers a medium between the two. The 3D printer at the Warehouse has a print dimension of 10” by 10” by 10”. It is an FDM printer, which stands for Fused Deposition Modeling. It is a more durable material, however, the detailing is likely to not be as clear as what Slocum Hall or Falso Industries might offer. Think of it as more durable, and a little bit more rough.

Cost

It is difficult to put a price per square foot, or price per minute kind of pricing on 3D printers. There are so many variables that it makes it difficult to judge without actually having the final product, and estimating a price based on the product. Any small kind of variable can make a difference in the cost. Just like Slocum Hall and Falso Industries services, it is best to call the staff and send the file which you are interested in 3D printing. This will give you the best price range and allow you to make an accurate decision based on your needs.

Summary

Examples of 3D Printing

Laser Cutter

What is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting, as the name suggests, is a form of cutting materials using the powerful beam of a laser. It is one of the most commonly used forms of digital fabrication. Needless to say, it is used often for industrial manufacturing, but is also commonly used by individuals for a variety of uses. Laser cutters can cut all sorts of materials, from thick paper to pieces of metal. One draw back, arguably, is that it cannot cut through very deep materials. In these cases however, a CNC mill will most likely be used.

Slocum Hall

Laser Cutter

There are three laser cutters at Slocum Hall. Two of the laser cutters have 50 Watt lasers while the third is equipped with a 60 Watt laser. The laser cutters can cut one sheet of material at a time. The size of the bed is 18” by 32”. While this is a big sized bed size, it is often problematic for students when trying to plan their models. It is not uncommon to see laser cutters at even a bigger scale.

Cost

The cost to laser cut is $0.20 per minute. You need an architectural student account in order to have laser cuts. (I will research farther into if other students can use these forms of digital fabrication without architectural accounts). With the high demand of laser cutting, during finals week, the laser cut will often have waiting periods of up to a few days.

Falso Industries

Laser Cutter

The laser cutter at Falso Industries is, as one might expect, at an industrial level. This means that the bed is much larger, and the laser is much stronger. They are able to cut stainless steel, carbon steel and aluminum. Once again, this raises prices, but significantly raises quality.

Cost

Because of the large variety of materials that can be cut at Falso Industries, the best way to get an idea of pricing for the laser cutter is through direct contact. The customer services is extremely helpful and the turn around for a quote is very fast.

SU Warehouse

Laser Cutter

The laser cutter available at the warehouse is very similar to that which is in Slocum Hall. The bed size is 32” by 18”, providing the same services as Slocum Hall. However, the Warehouse laser cutter is operated by students at later hours of the night. This allows for a longer work period and the potential to receive work sooner.

Cost

While the technology of the laser cutter is almost the same as the one in Slocum, the Warehouse actually charges more per minute. Part of the underlying reason for this is the majority of the labor to run the machines is done by students. The Warehouse charges $0.25/minute, 5 cents more expensive per minute than Slocum Hall.

Summary

Examples of Laser Cutting

CNC Milling

What is CNC Milling

CNC milling, or ‘computer numerical control’ milling, is a simple and effect form of digital fabrication. This technology is often the most common type of digital fabrication found in many different kinds of shops. The CNC is essentially a drill, mounted on a multi-axial arm which cuts away at material from the top. It is accurate, straightforward and fairly fast. The CNC mill is a much different concept than a 3D printer, primarily because it cannot carve under the material it is milling. This means that there cannot be any cantilever like structure in the model, as the milling arm cannot reach underneath it.

Similar to 3D printers, CNC mills have become much more affordable, and therefore more accessible; which is a trend with a great majority of technology. It is not uncommon that people might have their own CNC mills.

Slocum Hall

CNC Mill

The CNC milling bed at Slocum Hall, the School of Architecture building is 17” by 13”, and can mill wood and dense foam materials up to 2” deep. CNC milling can take up to 36 hours depending on certain variables. For example, the material, the complexity, and the amount of detail finishing requested can all make a huge impact in the time aspect. When CNC milling a slope, for example, one could either choose to make a very smooth slope, or a more stepped pyramid-like slope which takes shorter to mill.

Cost

The cost of CNC milling makes it one of the most affordable types of digital fabrication that is allowed to students. The mill charges $6.00 for an hour. Once again, the time lapsed is based on the kind of material used and the amount of detail and finish.

SU Warehouse

CNC Mill

The CNC mill at the Warehouse is very advantages for students as it boasts a 4 by 8 foot bed, with a drill depth of 4”. This means that students can take large pieces of material and be able to make a model out of one pieces. The large bed is extremely useful for CNC mill. Similar to Slocum Hall, the CNC mill can mill a range of materials using different thicknesses of drill bits. The Warehouse also has a second CNC mill, which is almost exactly like the one found at Slocum Hall. However, the bed is larger at 24” by 30” by 3”.

Cost

The cost at the Warehouse is more expensive, directly due to the bigger bed size. While Slocum Hall charges $6/hour, the Warehouse charges $15/hour. Keeping in mind that in order to get a large project done, you would need to have multiple pieces cut at Slocum Hall, the more expensive price per hour at the Warehouse pays off in the long run for bigger projects. The cost of the second CNC Mill at the Warehouse is approximately $9/hour. This gives a third and flexible option for students who want to make projects at a medium size.

Summary

Examples of CNC Milling

Vacuum Forming

What is Vacuum Forming?

Vacuum forming is yet another straight forward, yet very effect way of fabrication. This process involves taking a 3D object or mold, heating and melting a film of plastic, and placing it over the object so that the plastic takes it’s shape and dries in that form. A usual form of application for this technology is the kind of plastic wrapping a toothbrush, or some headphones, might come in. It is also often used for the fabrication of car dashboards.

Slocum Hall

Vacuum Former

The vacuum former available to students at Slocum Hall can take square proportioned materials as big as 18” by 18”. It can also create a form over models as deep as 9”. However, the higher the shape of the model, the higher chance of a tear on the plastic being heated is.

Cost

Vacuum forming is an interesting kind of digital fabrication technique available to students at Syracuse University. Different from other resources, the vacuum former is actually free, so long as the student brings their own material to vacuum form with. Approved materials for this particular vacuum form is 1/4” thick plastic; styrene, PETG and ETFE film.

SU Warehouse

Vacuum Former

The Warehouse Vacuum former is the same technology as the Slocum Hall Vacuum Former and uses the same concept. Students can vacuum form materials up to 18” by 18”.

Cost

The cost of the vacuum forming is completely based on the kind of material used. Because the machines are the same, this vacuum former can support the same kinds of materials as Slocum Hall.