A technology is a fresh engineering process with a functional bent.  These processes
as a rule - divide the audience into two distinct camps. They are the users & the non-users.
Honestly,  I jokingly refer to myself as a ''tool user' for the sort of work represented here.  However,
I generally would not consider buying these new tools - but espouse the concept of flexible outsourcing
of fabrication using a proven cost effective approach.


The most common users of a modern technology are the original developers & their peers.  Typically
these applications are functional in focus; the creators are applied scientists & engineering specialists.
The other camp or audience observes these new inventions with an aura of magic or fear.   This is a
synergistic problem, because lay people do not understand the process or have mastery over them - yet

CONSIDER HOW WIDELY USED TECHNOLOGIES HAVE EVOLVED INTO TOOLS.  
CONSIDER THE TYPICAL DIFFERENCE OF HOW TOOLS ARE USED - VERSUS A TECHNOLOGY.
A technology starts out as a precious process controlling the need for labor & the creation of useful goods.
These rely on or concentrate knowledge & power.  As they are widely accessed,   they become ''tools''.
Tools are what the average person can fathom & access.  Human nature is generally to apply flexible
aesthetics or art to things when technologies become tools. Traditional versus modern tool choice is controlled
by the ability of the user to easily accomplish their vision & end goal taking into account a variety of factors:
time, energy, cost, labor, materials & budget.


The image above is  presentation drawing of a custom architectural metals commission.   The design
of gently curving waves was created to suite the client' aesthetic goals.  The commission partner is another
architectural metals professional who is installing the semi finished intact manufactured components. 
Part hand drawn & part computer generated it is an accurate scale representation of site conditions & design.
Outsourced to the lowest bidder competitive bidder in a field of several, these designs were manufactured without welds or
forgework from 3/4'' steel plate.  The cost savings over forgework in 1/2'' material was approximately 40%.  The increase in material
thickness to 3/4'' is estimated at 50%,  a considerable savings.  The artist provided manufacturing ready files to
the ultimate cutting vendor who inhouse applied the tool pathing/programming from the .dxf geometry. These
components were in turn delivered to the contractor/client who installed had them hot dip galvanized & painted. 
(design/drawing copyright 2005-6, Eileen Ruth Webb, all rights reserved.) 


Personal favorites to consider are paper, pencil, the wheel, the hammer & data exchange format files. 
The first two and the last two are greatly represented here in their ability to solve problems related to
design & fabrication of architecture & building. The drawing above is part of a client presentation for a current
project.  The drawing is both computer and hand drawn, using both pencil, paper, and .data exchange format files
created by the artist.  Personally,  I enjoy calligraphy & lettering by hand - so the final touches in client presentations
are generally hand lettered & detailed. Also, it takes me less time..
 

PAPER or PAPYRUS was once more valuable than gold.  Today, it is an industrialized societie's greatest
waste product. Writing was knowledge & the ability to put knowledge to paper preserving it is a foundation
of what we consider civilization. Before paper - clay tablets & stone were inscribed with iconic images &
the heiroglyphs of scribes. The earliest forms of flat & lightweight materials for writing were created in China,
Asia Minor (now Turkey) & ancient Egypt.

The PENCIL was developed in the mid-16th century as a laminated piece of soft natural coal between two
trimmed pieces of wood.  Contemporary pencils are typically mandarin yellow as the direct result of a
marketing move by Kooh-i-Noor well over a century ago. It became an adapted standard used by other pencil
manufacturers so much that today, virtually all pencils are yellow - a cultural icon of that technology & company.
A pencil sketch is the most practical way to put an idea to paper as a rendering for architectural
concepts or construction at the earliest stage.  It is a precurser to presenting ideas in a computerized format
such as CAD or eventual CAM.

The WHEEL is an invention of the Sumerians (Uruk, Iraq) sometime around 3,850 B.C. They also are
attributed the invention of bricks, copper smelting, bronze,  cuneiform writing (wedge shaped pictographs)
& the arch and vault in construction.

The HAMMER I have not been able to trace to its humble beginnings, but in the late 19th century the United States
exhibited a variety of specific use hammers at the World Expositions in Paris & London as "technology". In a
succession of technologies,  the hammer is passing from cost effectiveness in a wide scale to create artful
aesthetics for building.  Its passage is represented in great part by the appearance of modern architecture that is
rectilinear, simple and lacking the subtle detailing and ornament of historic architecture.  Continued dependence
on the hammer or other hand tools to create graceful components greatly contributes to the high cost of modern
custom architecture. 
Photo courtesy & Copyright, Frank Adams 2005,  All Rights Reserved.


The image above is of semi finished intact manufactured components.  Outsourced to the lowest bidder
competitive bidder in a field of several, these were manufactured with tool paths applied from the provided .dxf
files which control the geometry  & general appearance of the part.  These 6  'parts' are each  40'' x 120'' x .75'.  Installation
required no welding.  The tab/flanges were laser cut with bolt wholes.  Panels fit snuggly within .125'' over 10'.
(photo courtesy & copyright 2005, Frank Adams, all rights reserved.) 


.DXF or data exchange format files control virtaully all modern ''computerized'' manufacturing.  It was created by
engineers to facilitate large scale production of simple engineered parts.  The idea of what a ''machine'' part
looks like is entirely subjective when it comes right down to it.  Adapting the interface to accept an unlimited
potential for aesthetics allows for an existing infrastructure to more effective create handcraft or traditional
appearing components that are virtually intact or complete in every way. The more technically adept & creative
the designer/fabricator,  the more potential within the new computer driven model for existing technology will
become apparent in our urban environment.  The greatest shift in architectural fabrication over the next 25
years will be towards more flexible uses of these technologies that do not appear at first glance to be anything
except for traditional hand craft made by .dxf's older cousin, the hammer. These technologies currently rest in
a narrow range of technical specialists whose focus is not in this architectural market.   This reality - tied to the lack
of standardization by industry software developers for both manufacturing & design with a truly universal compatible
interoperability of data (geometry) is the greatest hinderance to wide spread implementation.

There is a note of caution, virtually every job shop in existence is remiss to take on these types of
applications for complex geometry, large scale parts, unless the client provides the perfected geometry in
.DXF format.  The cost of programming interface exceeds in most instances the actual cost of manufacturing &
materials. The work here is a result of the studio's focusing on what a job shop needs has created a timely
mastery of non-conventional CAD & CAM partnered with a trusting relationship with a variety of computer
manufacturers developed over almost a decade.  Studio time for field survey, design, presentation drawings,
programming & production support is under 60 hours which often represents a fraction of the time needed for a
vendor to create the geometry for the same components in house.

photo courtesy & copyright 2005, Frank Adams, all rights reserved.


The image here is of custom CAM manufacturing of the previously represented steel railing design using a
multi-head mixed oxyacetylene torch gantry with a water table & top water spray for additional cooling. 
The six panels were cut simultaneously from large sheets of 3/4'' A-36 steel plate,   10' - 0'' x 24' - 0''.  
These 6  'parts' are individually 40'' x 120'' x .75''. Complete scope of commission involves processing nearly
16,000 lbs of steel parts at two vendors using laser & oxy cutting.  Average commission cost complete was
$75 a square foot, including gate motor, galvanizing, paint, install, materials, design, CAM & materials.
(photo courtesy & copyright 2005, Frank Adams, all rights reserved.)


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