IFAB 5: MATERIALS & FASTENERS

Fabricate something using primarily two different materials.  Let’s say the project is roughly 40% one material, 40% the other.  The materials cannot be acrylic or plywood (unless you are gluing up your own plywood).  The work should be held together using fasteners of your choosing.

I always wanted to work with metal - as I never used it before, especially Aluminum. I love the buttery softness of this material. It looks industrial yet has something authentic to it. So I bought some aluminum L-Elements and decided to work with them as my first material. The second material was a bit of a journey: After first going for basswood - it's as soft as the aluminum and has a nice clean look - I finally decided for a bit more edge and used paper. A used Chinese book on data visualization I found in the trash. Somehow the shop trash shelf is really inspiring me again and again. Why combining a book on data visualization with these metal construction elements? Well, it somehow felt right at the end. But let's start from the beginning.

IMG_1902.JPG

Because one theme of the assignment was "screws, not glues", I went screw and nuts shopping first. I loved the industrial looks of hex-head machine screws and the thumb-head machine screws. They made a perfect fit to the aluminum elements - industrial to industrial, minimal to minimal. A brutalist look. My idea was to build a heavy duty screen for my raspberry pi. Something that you can't mess around with. The basswood should cover the open parts between the aluminum elements. 

First challenge was the cutting of the metal: I wanted to have accurate cuts, the bandsaw seemed to rough for that. So I went for a metal handsaw with a angled sawing help.

IMG_1838.JPG

And yes, I used it at a better position than in the picture above. It was pretty easy to use and the cuts were very precise. After that I sanded the cutting edges of the metal with a metal file. 

I did the same with the basswood, but used a wood handsaw. 

IMG_1850.JPG

Same like with the metal, I sanded it after each cut. That was the easy part. Then I drilled the holes and had to pay attention to get the holes right - metal has no flex and every hole needs to sit exactly in the right place - otherwise it becomes very difficult to put all the screws in later - something I had to learn the hard way.

IMG_1854.JPG
IMG_1856.JPG
IMG_1859.JPG
IMG_1864.JPG
IMG_1870.JPG

I combined multiple L-elements and used the basswood for the back of the screen. When I finished it I was not happy with the basswood. It was not strong enough, too soft - and I realized that wood might not be the best material for the back of a  screen regarding heat. As I wanted to use screws only, I tried to fix the position of the wood with a sandwich-concept between the two aluminum elements. 

IMG_1867.JPG

I was not very successful - both basswood parts were still loose. I wanted to avoid putting extra screws into the aluminum from outside as I already had quite a few visible screws in the top parts. On top of this engineering issue I didn't feel to excited about the combination of the basswood with the aluminum anymore. It looked like an unequal match to the boldness of the metal.

So I looked for a more exciting combination of materials and searched the trash shelf for inspiration. After thinking about using glass (too tricky to cut.drill) I saw this book on data visualization in the trash and it felt right to use it with the screen - old and new media, re-combined. Paper and aluminum, a wood-product and a metal, a screen and a book. I had to use it. So I decided to mount the metal frame of the screen on the book. I drilled holes into the paper and used screws and a metal rail to attach the screen. 

I tried as well to add an aluminum back to the book to enforce the industrial aesthetics, but I took it off later - it was a bit too much, too far on the brutalist side.

IMG_1905.JPG
IMG_1907.JPG

Unfortunately while attaching this last piece, one of the aluminum standoff screws got loose /worn out from unscrewing. I am not sure but it seems the softness of the material makes it not ideal for a lot of assembling / de-assembling tasks. 

I stayed within the 40 % (paper), 40 % aluminum, 20 % (screen components, screws) ratio. 

A very rough look. But it resonated with me. I put a p5 sketch I was working on in ICM on the screen. A koi-fish is slowly cruising through his virtual pond. It somehow felt strange but right to re-imagine this technical book with an industrial construction and a poetic animation. 

IMG_1874.JPG
IMG_1891.JPG
IMG_1900.JPG
IMG_1896.JPG