Digital Fabrication: Felt_Laser Explorations

Our assignment this week took us into unknown lands of laser-cutting (at least for us unknown…): I teamed up with Kimberly Lin and we went to mood-fabrics in the NY fashion-district to buy different shades of grey felt in a thicker quality (around 1/8 inch).

 

We opted for grey felt because of its iconic role in sculpture and art installations in the 20th century: Robert Morris, Joseph Beuys and Bianca Pratorious were our main inspirations for the choice of material. We were curious on how the material could be cut with the laser - and how the digital process could alter the artistic output and execution. So we decided to play !

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We used Vectorworks to create simple slots and lines for our first prototype. After copying it into Adobe Illustrator we started laser-cutting - and to our surprise the felt turned out to be a great choice: it has a certain sturdiness and structural integrity that helps maintaining the form. There is still a lot of movement and room for re-shaping of the object. And the laser cuts it pretty fast, efficient and precise. We did three rounds of cutting (to prevent the material from too much burning) at conservative settings: 500hz frequency, 30 speed, 10 power worked well on the 60watt laser.

We prototyped different shapes and arrangements of the fabric pieces as we plan to build a large-scale kinetic sculpture later in the semester.

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After playing with different combinations we decided to keep a self-standing organic structure for now and later on experimented how it would behave in motion.