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[m]MTM: Modular Machines that Make - Slashbot

Modular Machines that Make: Slashbot and other instantiations: This is a joint demo proposal with Nadya Peek (see other Solid Fellows applicants).

The Modular Machines that Make project uses 1-axis motion stages that can be connected together in different configurations to produce different motion systems. For example, 2 stages placed together horizontally can make a XY stage, or 3 stages can give 3 axis motion. The Slashbot uses 4 stages to make a 4-axis hot wire cutter for things like airfoils.

For examples, click here or here.

Off-the-shelf digital fabrication machines are becoming cheaper, although they are not necessarily becoming more diverse. A wide range of new entry-level 3d printers has come to the market recently, as well as several entry-level CNC routers, but they don’t lend themselves well for unintended applications.

However, building your own application-specific machines for every task is no longer as prohibitive, with CNC tools making building custom frames easier, and small-volume production encouraging marketplaces to sell more types of machine-building components (like motors, bearings, guide rails, etc.) at low volumes, with less lead time.

The Modular Machines that Make project aims to make the machine prototyping process extremely streamlined, revolutionizing how designers work with, imagine, and fabricate their ideas.

Mechanically, it uses modular stages that each have 1 axis of motion. For its control system, it uses networked nodes, one for each machine that together form a virtual machine network. The network then can be addressed using a high-level language, allowing the control system to be prototyped with the same kind of agility and iteration time as software development.

Plug, play, prototype, reconfigure, and repeat. At Solid we will demo the 4-axis hotwire cutter Slashbot, which demonstrates the process of rapid machine design and other fabrication potentials of the Modular Machines that Make project.

James’ work with software revolves around advanced fabrication techniques. He has worked as a digital design specialist and CAD/CAM fabrication expert within the fields of architecture and engineering. As a 4-year TA of Neil Gershenfeld’s legendary “How to Make Almost Anything” class, James works at the cusp of where software, hardware, and design collide. He makes and controls machines that enable design.