Digitization of fabrication is where you don’t just digitize design, but the materials and the process. The computer program doesn’t just describe the thing but becomes the thing.
Digital fabrication is a type of manufacturing process where the machine used is controlled by a computer. The most common forms of digital fabrication are:
- CNC Machining It is a computer controlled cutting process that uses a milling cutter to remove material from the surface of a work-piece. The milling cutter is a rotary cutting tool, often with multiple cutting points. As opposed to drilling, where the tool is advanced along its rotation axis, the cutter in milling is usually moved perpendicular to its axis so that cutting occurs on the circumference of the cutter. The milling process removes material by performing many separate, small cuts. This is accomplished by using a cutter with many teeth, spinning the cutter at high speed, or advancing the material through the cutter slowly; most often it is some combination of these three approaches. Shapes are cut out of wooden sheets
- 3D Printing Some times also called Additive Manufacturing (AM), are processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create the object. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from digital model data 3D model. Commonly used methods to melt or soften material to produce layers are Fused
Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Objects are built up out of layers of metal or plastic
- Laser Cutting It is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials, it works by directing the output of a high-power laser most commonly through optics. The laser optics and CNC (computer numerical control) are used to direct the material or the laser beam generated. CO2 and Solid State are the two main types of lasercutter used. Materials like metal are burnt or melted by a laser beam
There are a huge range of digital fabrication techniques. The important aspect that unifies them is that the machines can reliably be programmed to make consistent products from digital designs.