The digital fabrication laboratory (FABLAB) at the Welsh School of Architecture is a workshop for the digital fabrication of computer-generated models. The lab currently consists of a CADCAM FB-700 series laser cutter and a MakerBot 3D Printer. The laser cutter can cut a variety of sheet material up to 5mm thickness while the 3D MakerBot uses deposit technology to create a layered 3D model made of ABS plastic up to 100 mm x 100 mm x 100 mm.
How to prepare your files for laser cutting
All work must be submitted as Adobe Illustrator CS2 files. The ArtBoard should not be larger than 580 mm x 800 mm to allow for a border on an A1 sheet. However, the laser cutter’s maximum cutting area is 725 mm x 990 mm. All files will be sent to the laser at 1:1 scale. Therefore, your file should be prepared at the size of your model.
The document should be organised in three layers and three basic stroke colours:
All placed objects/lines are to be vectors with thin lines and no fills. Do not embed images (jpeg, tiff, png etc.). If you place a PDF file into Adobe Illustrator, make sure you press the ‘embed’ button to unlink it from the original file. Make sure the PDF is vector-based (lines) and not image-based (pixels). Make sure there are no overlapping multiple lines (a common mistake due to flattening of 3D drawings into 2D profiles).
Any cut pieces smaller than 5 mm may fall through the honeycomb and be lost. The 50 watts laser tube can cut through approximately 5 mm depth of most materials.
Prohibited materials could melt on the laser bed, catch on fire or release toxic gas which could damage the machine. Plastics can release carcinogens such as benzene.
How to prepare your files for 3D printing
All work must be submitted as stereolithography (.STL) files (available as an export option from 3DS Max). Make sure your 3D model does not have cantilevers at less than 45 degrees. More information is available at: http://wiki.makerbot.com/how-to-print