FAB Lab open house promotes digital design, fabrication at Taubman College

Demonstrations of the new seven – axis robot and other CNC (computer numeric control) technologies used for architectural fabrication will be conducted as part of an open house by the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

The addition of the robot to Michigan’s Digital Fabrication Lab (FAB Lab) makes it one of the most robust architectural research labs maintained by any institution in the country. Computer aided- design and fabrication will improve the quality of built outcomes while reducing production waste.

The robot has a work volume of 30’by10’x8′. The machine can load a milling head to cut wood and foam, or an abrasive water jet cutter for full 3-D cutting of metal, glass, and stone. The robotic-abrasive water jet has the ability to follow compound-curved surfaces, and cuts with minimal lateral forces, simplifying material setups.

The robot also utilizes various grippers for material forming or assembly processes, as well as additive fabrication with an extrusion nozzle.

The FAB Lab also maintains several other CNC machines, including a three-axis abrasive water jet cutter, two three-axis CNC routers, and a three-axis milling machine, as well as several 3-D printing machines.

These tools aid students and faculty in conducting design research through fabrication and material exploration. This research ranges from innovative uses of materials to new forms of production and assembly, focusing on the potential for the development complex geometries, sustainable techniques, and more efficient use of building resources.