A Copernican Revolution in Digital Fabrication: Handheld CNC for 2D
As with many of my fellow fledgling philosophy students, I was awed by Kant’s so-called “Copernican Revolution”: in order to reconcile the epistemological conflict between rationalism and empiricism, Kant determined that we experience the world from a point-of-view, as dictated by a priori categories of space, time, causality, etc. Thus, our unique ability to know and learn about the world as it is given to perception comes at the expense of the naïve belief that we could somehow discern its essence.
Just as it’s only a loose (possibly even backwards) metaphor for the dawn of modern Western philosophy, we’re taking some liberties with both the Renaissance astronomer’s hypothesis and its Kantian canonization here. Where Computer Numerical Control (CNC) devices have long been restricted by the size of a multiple-axis stage, a team of engineers and designers are looking to put digital fabrication tools squarely in the hands of the users. Don’t the let academic title fool you: “Position-Correcting Tools for 2D Digital Fabrication” by Alec Rivers (MIT CSAIL), Ilan E. Moyer (MIT MechE) and Frédo Durand (MIT CSAIL) might just represent the next step for digital fabrication. Per the abstract:
Many kinds of digital fabrication are accomplished by precisely moving a tool along a digitally-speciﬁed path. This precise motion is typically accomplished fully automatically using a computer controlled multi-axis stage. With that approach, one can only create objects smaller than the positioning stage, and large stages can be quite expensive.
In other words, they’re looking to combine the best of both worlds: “our goal is to leverage the human’s mechanical range, rather than decision making power or guidance, to enable a new form factor and approach to a task that is currently fully automated.”
Before we dig into the short but dense paper [PDF] that Rivers, Moyer and Durand published for SIGGRAPH 2012, here’s the video:
A bit of nitty-gritty after the jump…
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