This autumn semester 2013, our elective “Digital fabrication for urban regeneration" will be located within the Cahill May Roberts premises at bank place, Limerick city.
In 1958 Cahill May Roberts, a successful Pharmaceuticals company, built a new building on a site at Bank Place in Limerick to serve Limerick, Cork, Galway. In 1995 the modernisation of operations and working practices and the reduction in the wholesale warehouses from six to three saw the closure of offices and warehouse at bank place, Limerick.
Thanks to a temporary agreement with Limerick City Council, a team of five students will be working for two weeks at the warehouse developing full scale prototypes of bamboo and 3D printed structures.
One of the most notable features of the RepRap project is self-replication. The RepRap printer is designed in such a way that many of its parts can be printed using another 3D printer. Here you can see our first RepRap printing a full set of parts for a new machine!
Third self-build project: Lasersaur laser cutter
In March 2013 and during the SAUL elective programme we built an open source laser cutter. The Lasersaur project has a 120W laser and can cut and engrave metal, timber and plastics. The laser cutter was assembled by Javier Burón, Michael McLaughlin, Stephen Bourke, Emmanuel Chomarat, David Grace, Weixang Huang, Peter Lawlor & Klest Pango. Our friend Carlos Cámara from the ETSA USJ in Zaragoza, Spain visited us during the assembly process.
Second self-build project: RepRap 3D printer
As a warm-up project before attempting the much more complex laser cutter machine, we decided to build a RepRap 3d printer during the first week of SAUL spring 2013 elective programme. This open-source, self-replicable 3D printer by Javier Burón, Michael McLaughlin, Stephen Bourke, Emmanuel Chomarat, David Grace, Weixang Huang, Peter Lawlor & Klest Pango.
This model is a great entry-level equipment for learning how additive manufacturing technology works and starting using them in a design studio environment. Although the assembly took only 5 full days, the commissioning and calibration process required at least two more weeks part time.
Many experts agree that digital fabrication technologies such as CNC routers, laser cutters and 3D printers are revolutionising the way physical objects are designed, manufactured and distributed.
Digital fabrication technologies have been adopted at a slow rate in design schools due to misbelief that they are expensive and difficult to operate, but this perception is changing fast. A flourishing new maker movement is revolutionising these technologies providing low-cost, do-it-yourself and open-source designs which can be assembled without a specialized knowledge in engineering or computer science.
At the School of Architecture, University of Limerick we have decided to build our Fablab following this bottom-up approach: staff and students will assembly these machines by themselves, acquiring a deep understanding about how they work, their strengths and limitations. Some pragmatic benefits of this approach will cutting the investment to a fraction of the traditional comercial solutions and being able to repair the machines by ourselves.