Nick Santillan – Emily Carr University of Art & Design
RedBlueCNC is a modular CNC system that can be easily rearranged to suit specific tasks. Hobbyists and developers can experiment with CNC technology while bypassing the complex learning curve needed to build complex CNC machines. Red Blue CNC promotes experimentation to further develop new types of CNC and tool heads.
Nick Santillan – Emily Carr University of Art & Design
The jury valued the "beyond the physical" consideration of the execution of this classical design assignment. The author has focused on the communication of the basic framing of the physical space by 3 axes. The chosen formal language and the color coding support the visualization of the essence of CNC functionality. This project demystifies technology through the highly effective visualization of the mechanical principles behind it.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
CNC machines are becoming more common with hobby DIY plans and less expensive entry level machines. But they are all made the same way which limits experimentation and does not push CNC technology forward, just more affordable. You can custom build a machine to do a specific task, but most people do not have the knowledge to build their own machines let alone modify one outside the standard setup.
I set out a way to minimize the complex machines to simple modular units that more people can comprehend. This allows for people to experiment with different setups, they are no longer restrained by how the machine is designed by allowing them to redesign the machine quickly and easily. By designing an intimidating machine to be more approachable, I wanted to develop a base in which others can push the technology forward to ways others have not thought of before. Hobbyist can focus on new tool heads instead of worrying about how to make everything else work.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
I wanted to bring tools and machines into more aesthetically pleasing. Not everyone has the luxury of a workshop to keep a CNC machine. I designed the machine to be both collapsible for ease of storage as well as aesthetically pleasing. It can be showcased in the living room without it looking like a machine. Kitchen tools are becoming sculptural pieces, why can't garage tools do the same. Most tools are left out until the project is finished, so it is common to have it set up for days or weeks at a time.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
The main audience is from a hobby user wanting to experiment new things. The DIY hobby movement is quickly growing, they want to have access to what they buy so they can easily modify it to suit their needs. I kept simplifying my design until it is as modular and minimal as it can be. Units can be easily opened for accessed for repairs and upgrades. The units have universal mounting holes on all sides, this allows users to create custom mounts with minimal restrictions on how and where they are mounted. Machine upgrades (to gain longer reach, etc) can be easily done by adding a longer unit. They no longer have to buy an entire new machine all together.
Users can have multiple expensive CNC setups with only 1 set of units. Instead of having to buy multiple machines, the can create inexpensive shells or frames in which these units attach to. Just transfer the units to the setup they want to use. Change the tool head and make it function as something else. I wanted the user to have as much freedom as they can with minimal restriction on what they can or can't do.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
Being interested in building a CNC for personal use (2 years prior to this project) I found some DIY plans that anyone can build. I found these plans to have a steep learning curve that scare away most people. I decided to design my own CNC instead of the plans. Pretty much most machines I've seen are machine look, heavy and intimating. After a couple years of using my 1st CNC machine, there were some things that could use improvement.
Simplifying the machine was one of the difficulties I encountered. An early prototype I had units with a pre-made frame that can be arranged in multiple ways. I realized I still limited customization because of this required frame. With my visit to Dessau, Germany a few months prior still fresh in my mind, my tour of the Bauhaus school (and Rietveld's Red Blue Chair) inspired me to take it back to it's core essential roots. The basic CNC machine are just 3 planes, this is when I realized to remove the frame all together and remove each plane into its own box unit, much like Rietveld's L40 lamp. This resulted in 3 modular box units, 1 for each axis that attaches to each other with simple adapters. I took the minimalist approach further by adding Rietvel's Red Blue Chair color scheme as a nod to the De Stilj and Bauhaus movement.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
The RedBlueCNC promotes experimentation. A machine that targets users that are known to experiment and modify in order to create new things, it needs to have give the users as much freedom as possible. All tools limits their on how they can be used, most for good reason. Like the Lego Mindstorm kit, it allows flexibility to allow users to discover new things in order to push the entire community forward. In essence this could be where the Lego Mindstorm left off, a more advanced platform where it could be the launching point of something new and exciting; a wall paper plotter, a sidewalk chalk illustrator, a 3d cake printer. It may not be the next amazing technology, but it's a platform that could help develop that next amazing technology.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
The prototype is a fully functioning 3 axis CNC machine (with a rotational 4th axis attachment and a 3d printer tool head in the works). I used the motors from my 1st (wooden) machine, but because of the weight it is not quit strong enough. But upgrading the motors is easily done. I would have probably used thinner aluminum for the shell to make it lighter.