The Fabrication Lab is a resource available to you as an extension of the classroom and studio environment. Its goal is to provide students and faculty a place to learn through making, utilizing both digital and non-digital processes. Its role within the school is not to provide model-making nor prototyping services. The Technical Assistants hired to work in the lab are students who have received training and have gained some experience with the software and equipment. While they are available to offer you guidance and help, you are responsible for making critical decisions while creating your own files and learning through participation in the process. Jobs will not be run for individuals who arrive without sufficient file and material preparation. Before scheduling a milling appointment, you must have a Mastercam file prepared and approved by a TA. If you would like to become trained as a CNC TA in order to have more flexibility with access to the equipment, please contact Fabrication Lab staff.
If you have questions about file preparation, tool selection, or material preparation, please meet with a TA during office hours. To make an appointment, contact a CNC TA at email@example.com. Be prepared to participate in the process from conception to cleanup.
In general, the process of milling or routing using a CNC machine consists of the following steps:
Modeling or Drawing the geometry that represents what you want to make in CAD or 3D Modeling software such as Rhino.
Editing that geometry such that it can be used to define the path of the cutting tool.
Using that geometry in a toolpath generating software such as Mastercam.
Creating machine code from those toolpaths that describes the motion the machine will execute.
Operating the machine, following the machine code, cutting the stock material into the desired part.
In parallel with the above steps, preparation of the material to be milled must be done. Many of these steps take a considerable amount of time and attention to detail. We don't expect you to get everything correct on the first try, and you shouldn't expect that either. Staff and TAs are available in the Fabrication Lab to assist with the process and provide guidance, so please come and talk to us early if you have questions or big ambitions!