Digital Fabrication

UW CBE Digital Fabrication Resources

The College of Built Environments enjoys a substantial collection of CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided-Design and Manufacturing) resources accessible to all students and faculty for study, teaching and research. Supplementing the outstanding design teaching resources within our departments, these tools support standard, advanced and alternate global standards of digital practice. Our Digital Input Devices, Design and Design-Development software and Digitally-Enabled Machine Tools permit a deep and practical understanding of the current and future potential of digital-design and downstream manufacturing applications. Active relationships with other departments within the University allow access to additional, related resources.

What is CAD/CAM?

Computer-Aided-Design-and-Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is also referred to as "Digital Fabrication", "DigiFab", "Fabbing"  the enabling of design and manufacturing processes through the use of digital technologies. Binary data can directly control the movement of mechanisms, but many machines require the use of electro-mechanical "readers" to control motors through the use of language made up of letters and numbers; hence the term, "Numerical Control", or NC. Modern numerical-control languages such as APT and, later, G-Code were first developed and codified at MIT, and then offered to the manufacturing world at large. Computer-Numerical-Control (CNC) developed following the development of the computer, first using numerical-control languages to operate standard machine tools. Once CAD environments were developed, efforts were made to relate design directly to manufacturing applications within the same environment incorporating both a drawing module and a manufacturing module.

In addition to the wood and metal shops, The Department of Architecture manages two CNC machines, a fabric cutter, 3D digitizers, 3D printer, numerous laser cutters, and large format scanners and plotters. All digital facilities are open for students to use once they have been properly trained.