The Digital Fabrication Lab is a facility for the fabrication and assembly of full-scale building prototypes and mock-ups. The laboratories and equipment in the DFL support both faculty research and research-based studios and seminars. Students interact with faculty in the DFL in full-semester courses. Much of the coursework, equipment, and research in the lab focuses on the automated production and assembly of building systems using information models and CNC equipment. The lab also houses a small structures and materials lab, a concrete casting lab, and outdoor workspaces for installation and testing of mock-ups.
The DFL contains equipment for working with metals, wood, plastics, concrete and masonry. The primary large-format machines (4 ft. x 8 ft. work volume or larger) in the lab are 3-axis and 5-axis milling machines – for working in wood and plastics and a 4-axis CNC waterjet cutting machine for work in metals, polymers, glass, stone and concrete. A Kuka Robot (KR Quantec Pro) provides capability in robotic programming, control, and fabrication. Small CNC machines for laser cutting, foam cutting, and metals milling support the operations of the large format machines. A host of manual equipment for drilling, sanding, cutting, welding etc. complement the automated equipment.
The computer lab at the DFL supports seminars on parametric modeling tied to fabrication processes, and contains, in addition to the standard suite of design software used in the School of Architecture, specialized software tied to digital modeling and fabrication: Digital Project, Autodesk Inventor, Solidworks, Siemens NX, and AlphaCam. These software applications support the geometrical requirements for direct translation to computer-controlled fabrication machines – more so that the traditional architectural CAD and BIM applications.