A state-of-the-art CNC router from Advanced Robotic Technology (ART) is part of the technical equipment at the Gold Coast-based Bond University’s School of Architecture. The school’s equipment range already includes a CNC laser cutter and 3D printer.
Jonathan Nelson, Teaching Fellow and the manager of the Digital Fabrication and Research Laboratory at the Solheil Abedian School of Architecture, was looking for something to process large materials with, and to do more sculpting tech work when he came across ART’s range of CNC routers. He was particular about sourcing the equipment locally for easy access to service.
The Lab’s SMART router XR 3500 is a 100% Australian-made machine designed for various applications and featuring an additional fourth axis for automatic tool changes including special tools such as knives for foam cutting. The gantry-mounted covered toolchanger turns variable-angle cutting, creasing and routing needed to create architectural 3D shapes into one efficient fully automated process.
Practical hands-on projects contribute to a large part of the Bachelor of Architectural studies at Bond University. According to Mr Nelson, studio assignments have been purposefully designed to introduce the students to the intellectual, material and spatial culture of architecture.
The Fabrication and Research Laboratory now provides all the tools to fabricate both small scale models or full-size prototypes and sculptures. Wood, plastic, MDF, dense foam and soon, aluminium are among the many types of materials that can be machined or manipulated in the shop. Students create sculptures and other architectural artwork, and use the CNC router as a major tool in their shop.
According to Mr Nelson, the Fabrication Lab provides a setting in which students learn the basics of fabrication and CNC programming. He uses the router in as many of his classes as possible and students frequently use it for studio projects, which have been purposefully designed to introduce the students to the intellectual, material and spatial culture of architecture.
Much of the artwork processed on the ART router was recently on display at the Speculator gallery exhibition, a design studio and public event guided by Gavin Robotham and Mark Bagguley of CRAB Studio London.
Since the router’s installation in early 2012, most of the other machines such as the bandsaws are now collecting dust. Mr Nelson says that the router has taken a lot of work over from the other equipment and he no longer needs to train students on smaller woodworking equipment.
While Mr Nelson admits that the CAD/CAM software the school is using is a bit hard to get used to, the machine is really simple. Once all the drawings are converted to the G-Code, the machine cuts all parts precisely and fast.
Mr Nelson confirms that the School would definitely invest in one of ART’s machines again.