Piecing It Together

ITPG-GT 2533

Eric Hagan
Wednesday from 6:30pm to 9:00pm, Room 20
Office Hours: Wednesday at 5:30pm or by appointment

Class Description:

Designing and building physical objects can feel like putting together a puzzle without the box top. Even if you have all the pieces, an extra challenge lies in figuring out how they fit together. Digital fabrication tools make it possible to newly imagine and produce pieces that allow us to recreate or modify the “puzzle” as we see fit. Utilizing historic mechanical equipment (e.g. windmills, clocks, speed governors) as design inspiration, we will explore the possibilities of digital fabrication tools to solve issues of fastening, synchronicity, replaceable parts, repeatability, and modification of existing designs. A central goal of this class is to come to terms, and work productively, with the limitations of these otherwise revolutionary digital fabrication tools—particularly in regards to materials, scale, and aesthetics. By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with Adobe Illustrator, 2D and 3D CAD software, laser cutting, CNC routing, and 3D printing.  No prior fabrication or design background is required for this course.

Required Textbook: None

Recommended Resources:
Making Things Move – Dustyn Roberts
507 Mechanical Motions – Henry T. Brown, also available online here
1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances – Gardner D. Hiscox
The Elements of Pop-Up  – David A. Carter and James Diaz
Structural Packaging – Paul Jackson

Grading: As with all classes at ITP, Piecing It Together is a pass/fail course. However, the basic grade breakdown is as follows:
15% for Attendance and Participation, both in presenting and critiquing projects
35% for Completing mini-assignments and Documenting your work
20% for Midterm project
30% for Final project


1) January 25th
Introduction, What is Digital Fabrication? Inspirations, Materials for Class
Reading: How to Make Almost Anything – Neil Gershenfeld
Assignment: Drawing Assignment
Download Adobe Illustrator trial

2)February 1st
Drawing to object: 2d drawing
Demo: Vinyl Cutter
Reading:  Structural Packaging – Paul Jackson (preview on Amazon)
Technology Mediated Artisanal Production
Vinyl Cutter / Vinyl Cutter manual
Assignment: Non-rectangular Box

3) February 8th
2d & the problem of thickness, Fasteners and Adhesives
Demo: Laser Cutter
Reading: Epilog Mini Owner’s Manual
Assignments: Non-rectangular box progress/drawings, Brainstorm 2D project idea

4) February 15th
Assembly, Joints,
Demo: CNC Techno router for 2d shapes
Reading: CNC Panel Joinery, Making Things Move Chapter 3
Share & Critique: Non-rectangular Box
Assignment: 2d project drawings

5) February 22nd
Materials: Properties, Behaviors, Limitations,
Reading: Making Things Move Chapter 2
Assignment: 2d project Progress Prototypes

6) March 1st
Mechanical Components, Assembly, Standard set of parts,
Creating a Build of Materials, Ordering Resources
Assignment: 2d project Progress Prototypes

7)March 8th
Midterm Critique with Guests

March 15th – Spring Break

8) March 22nd
3d Modeling basics, Modeling Environments,
Demo: CNC in 3d
Assignment: First 3d model drawing, 3d object drawing
Reading: Position correcting tool for 2d fabricationWalter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

9) March 29th
3d printing: Materials, Combination Assemblies, Multiple copies
Class visit to AMS – 35 West 4th street
Assignment: 3d puzzle
Reading: Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

10)April 5th
Mold Making: Making many and material choices
Share & Critique: 3d puzzle
Reading: Print the Legend – available on Netflix

11) April 12th
Casting: Making many and material choices
Assignment: Final project idea first drawings

12) April 19st
Alternative Digital Fabrication machines, Fabricating your own,
Limitations of Digital Fabrication in Mass Production, Getting
Things Made, Finishing
Assignment: Final project idea digital drawings, prototypes
Readings: Lasersaur Documentation,
Build Your Own CNC, Shapeoko, Carvey,

13) April 26th
Project workshop day, questions
Assignment: Second final prototypes, bring things to class to work on

14) May 3rd
Final Critique with Guests