thoughts on laser cutter models?


More and more schools these days get laser cutters for their students to use and they will use them, maybe too much.
What are your thoughts on the laser cutters?
Personally I think they are appropriate in some case i.e.. a context model or an organic model where scripting have been involved. However I think it's a real shame when models of "ordinary architecture" have been laser cutted.
In general I think the models are not very pretty, but I'm also aware of it's time saving tool.

I agree with you on using the laser cutter for context/organic models to an extent. I've seen people using the cutter for incredibly stupid things, such as two one inch strips of chipboard. Unfortunately, as technology advances people become lazier and lazier. Don't get me wrong I've used the machine several times, but never for a model of "ordinary architecture", as you put it. It's really off putting to see a model with burnt edges, plus the smell of burnt chipboard/basswood isn't always pleasant.

They are great!!

like everything... they are great if you just do them right. For the models of a lot of the projects I see now they are indispensable. If burnt edges bother you just use a material that does not have that problem, or paint the whole thing. I think if you really want to be critical of them it would be best to start by looking at how they influence the way we design. A specific example might be the emphasis on 2 dimensionality and layering.

There is a big difference btw lazy-cut models and laser-cut models... if I ever see another box built from stacked rectangles... argh.
Examples above are from my thesis project CA 2007, laser cutting makes you think more like a fabricator, and I get to spend more time designing then cutting precise straight lines, this may not reduce the time spent on models but cutting 2,000 1 " squares for the ceiling in the models would not be possible without the time saving abilities a laser cutter offers. 3D printing will also help put the craft of a model to the side and allow more time to think about design.

However this is a tool and should be reserved for more advanced work once designers learn about the basics and have some model building basic under their belt.

Now if we can just think about design and all the little things that have to be decided to document a real building, this detail is often missing in architecture school curriculum.

I still have all my fingertips thanks to these machines

Over and OUT
Peter N

I've never used a laser cutter, but I don't have a problem with their usage. I think they are appropriate to some projects, but not to others, and I don't just mean in regards to model complexity. Some projects are permeated by an ethos, spirit, concept, or whatever you want to call it, that calls for one type of model over the other.
Also, everyone should start building models by hand. Some people, such as me, use model building as a design tool. If a designer jumps to using the laser cutter too quickly, he/she may not realize that this is the method that works better for him/her. Laser cut models are best as presentation material.
The boxes composed of stacked material are wasteful. They also look bad when they are glued together with slipshod registration.

Nice work. In your case I would say the laser cutter was the right method.
I also guess, too much use of at laser cutter you start to distance yourself the old way of doing models and think the laser cutter is always the right solution. Here I especially think of designing through sketch models.
One of professors once said that the real models in designing architecture are sketch models.

it doesn't matter what you use or whether you hire a 100 person team to build your model.. Its your ideas that count.

In architecture school it's your idea yes. But more important it's your process - at least at my school. It's how ideas evolve. and not just get one good idea and execute it, but make the good idea to an even better idea.
In my opinion ideas evolve when "you" sit and build you models.

^ it doesn't matter what it evolves to if your thinking is poor and your designs suck ... laser cutters or any other techniques are just tools to use. Learning how to mix paint and make brush strokes isn't going to make you Picasso if you don't have much in your brain

I'm a grad student and I have to say that students have gotten even lazier than laser cutting. Now a lot of the students just 3d print their models regardless of how easy it would be to make it by hand. They don't even bother trying to figure out how they would make it by laser cutting, they plan ahead of time on 3d printing. Then when the 3d printer is messed up because hundreds of students are overusing them they get angry.

One thing I didn't like with laser cutters was that if you used wood or chip the edge would be burned. I suppose you could paint the entire model though. Definitely can save time if you have some complex design that needs cutting out.
Ultimately, in my experience - quality of model meant diddly squat compared to the concept behind it.
At first I cared very much about quality.. FINAL QUALITY TOMORROW FINAL QUALITY!!... spend all night making a model to have them tell you to rebuild the exact same thing the next day...
Finally I wised up, and I threw pieces together in 1 hour with tape and scraps, while other people spent all night working, and was given the highest grade in the class and praise for my model... ironic... but my concept was better. :D No lie.
So, it depends on your concept more than quality.

I have witness simular experinces during critics. Where people have presented kick-ass models (not necessary lasercutted), and others have presented models put together with masking-tape and got better feedback.
Smooth accesskb. I will argues the poor thinking and sucky design is the same as no thinking. The question then how you best think when you are doing design - some prefer models (of what ever tool they will use) and other may prefer drawings.

If you have the settings right on the laser cutter, you will not have burnt edges. I used the laser cutter at school with white chipboard, and had no burnt edges at all.
They are useful for cutting multiple apertures in a model, getting precise cuts in plexiglas, and for parametric modeling. They also help you think through how your model will be put together, since you must plan ahead rather than putting your scraps together in an interesting way.
Like all tools, laser cutters can be useful, or they can be crutches. Those who use them as crutches will likely never be very successful architects.

I worked as the laser lounge lizard during my time at grad school, and I wish that job came with the option of banning people from the tool for mis-using it. There are kids graduating with masters' degrees who can't make a square chipboard box with a box cutter and wood glue because of their over-dependency on the laser cutter. The worst is the casual attitude espoused by the profs towards this horrible downward trend in craftsmanship - in fact, where I went to school good craft and manual ability was ridiculed, dismissed for its earnestness, and discouraged wherever possible under the pretense of effective time management. But the kids who managed to make slick, clean models - that still looked entirely devoid of hand-i-craft - ultimately scored the most points at the end of it all...

only old farts worship pure handcraft.

^ People aka Subscribe aka .com spews again.
Hand craft is the basis of civilization.

At some point it was more pertinent, that is all.

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