Saturday, November 9, 2013

dcrl summer research

This past summer, I put a small team of students together via UWM's Office of Undergraduate Research. Two professors from Health Sciences had funding from some grants they had received to provide payment of two graduate students to act as project leaders and then I oversaw the group over the course of the summer. We identified a few areas of interest and then set to work on two major projects that our sponsoring Health Science partners had. We did our best to document our design process during the course of the summer and then we put the following document together to outline our team's research. You can view the full pdf here.

As I usually don't work through the summer (other than an occasional workshop and a quick 4 week teaching session), this was a great opportunity for me to test some things in the development of a working group in the DCRL. I wasn't worried about being held to a certain standard as I was doing this for free as I don't get paid during the summer and there was no payment for me from the professors in Health Sciences. The main benefit was to the students, the DCRL, and the professors in Health Sciences... and then I got to play with what one potential avenue could be for developing projects in the DCRL in the future. It was a no pressure kind of situation. 

The Department was quite happy with the work that was done as were the professors from Health Sciences. The work caught the attention of the University Provost and Chancellor and it has lead to a growing interest in digital fabrication and design at my school. I'm in the process of developing a BA and Certificate in Digital Fabrication and Design at UWM. Spread the word to anyone who you might think would be interested in the program as we're hoping to start taking on some graduate positions as well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

dcrl/digital fabrication and craft 3d printers

The students started putting their 3D printer together today in class. They have been printing parts galore the last few weeks and now we can finally get everything together. They'll have just a few more parts to print, but hopefully they can get the whole chassis together in the next week or so. It was fun to watch them building today. It's going to be great to see them all walk away from this class with so much experience with digital fabrication equipment as well as their own personal fabricator.

laser cut chair models

Emily and Jon just created a cool model for their chair that they are making in my Digital Fabrication and Craft class. They have done a great job of working through several different ideas and versions. The laser cutter really helps with this kind of ideation.

cream city engraving

We decided to try laser engraving cream city brick. It worked pretty well. A printmaking student has been using the bricks for printing plates and he was curious about engraving them and using them as an engraved plate. After completing the test, he didn't think he would be able to ink it and print it, but it's still a cool experiment.

For those of you curious about what cream city brick is:
Cream City brick is a cream or light yellow-colored brick made from a clay found around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the Menomonee River Valley and on the western banks of Lake Michigan. These bricks were one of the most common building materials used in Milwaukee during the mid and late 19th century, giving the city the nickname "Cream City" and the bricks the name "Cream City bricks".

cnc router dust shoe

I installed the router mount, router and dust shoe (from Kent CNC) on the large CNC router on Saturday in between all of the stuff that was happening in the DCRL. The dust shoe is impressive. I really like the magnetic brush section that allows for easy removal and installation. I first saw this on Arthur's blog a while ago and I'm glad I bought this. It should really help with the dust.

Aaron and I calibrated the router to make sure that it was moving properly and then we ran some test g-code on it. It works beautifully and now we just need to tighten all of the base bolts and put in the reinforcement braces on the stand. It should be ready to run some pieces once we get the spoil board mounted. Aaron has been a huge help this semester. He's really  taken the lead on a lot of projects in the DCRL. He's been handling all of our software install and computer maintenance as well as becoming the resident expert on Kinect 3D scanning. I'm proud of him for taking on a leadership role and using his skills to make the lab a better place to be. I really appreciate the things you're doing and the sense of community you are creating, Aaron!

Check out some of his videos from the DCRL here.

raoul test plate

On Saturday I ran a long "value chart-like" woodcut test piece for Raoul. We're testing out different things for a series of future prints. All of this testing should prove to be very beneficial in the future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

digital printmaking

Raoul Deal is one of my colleagues here at UWM and a terrific artist and human being. He works a lot with the local communities in Milwaukee and has a way of bringing people together to create wonderful works of art that represent the social fabric of the various communities. He also happens to be humble, thoughtful, articulate and down to earth (a coupe of these attributes are rare in a University art department it seems). 

Today Raoul and I took a one of his drawings and brought it into Rhino so we could get it ready to cut on the CNC router. I've been wanting to do something a bit more involved in terms of combining printmaking with the Digital Craft Research Lab capabilities and this was the perfect thing bring those two things together. We did some tests to see how engraving operations versus profile operations looked and made adjustments accordingly. Raoul had a mock-up print of what we were shooting for in terms of positive and negative, so this allowed me to select inside or outside profiles to create the necessary g-code. I ran another test on a full size piece of wood and then we were ready to do the real thing. 

Raoul had already begun work on the piece that we were going to add the text to via CNC. I was a bit nervous about messing up his work, but he assured me that anything was "fixable"; something I happen to believe in metal, but not usually in wood. Anyway, we got the woodcut situated and aligned and put the CNC router to work. Several minutes later we were able to pull the woodcut off the table. The completed text turned out great and there are only a few places that Raoul and his assitants will have to patch. This kind of detail work would be difficult in this size of print, so this is exciting. Raoul still has a lot of work ahead to "clear" out the rest of the wood, but the combination of the hand and the digital should prove to be very interesting. 

It's also cool to note that Raoul's lettering was hand drawn and scanned so it was interesting to see the router trace the marks of Raoul's hand in the section that was continuous line. Stay tuned for more woodcuts and an exhibition of Raoul's work in the near future.