03 Raplab Course: Casting Workshop

Raplab: Casting Workshop Introduction

The Moodle course “Raplab: Casting Workshop Introduction” introduces the basic usage of the materials and techniques available in the casting workshop and explains the foundations of safe working procedures that we at Raplab follow to conduct our work.

You can enrol in this course only after completing the Raplab safety introduction. This Moodle course is the preparation for the in-person introduction. Both must be completed to get access to the casting workshop.

Who is this course for?

This introduction course is for the BA, MA, MAS, and Ph.D. program students and employees of the Department of Architecture ETH Zurich who need access to the casting workshop of the Raplab.

What will I learn?

Students will get an overview of the following topics:

  1. Detailed overview of the Raplab casting workshop (CWS) and its materials and machines.
  2. Introduction to the fundamentals of the materials.
  3. Summary of the casting workshop’s processes and machines involved in creating architectural models.

How do I complete the course?

To complete this course, users must complete the Moodle quiz after studying the learning material.
Reading through the content and completing the quiz will take about one hour. 

04 Raplab Course: Digital Workshop

Digital Workshop Introduction

Hello! I am so glad you decided to join this course. I’m your course facilitator, Henry.

I will be your guide for this journey. Please contact me at any point if you have questions or concerns by emailing me directly. 

We appreciate feedback, so if you notice anything about this course that could help improve your experience, don’t hesitate to mention it.

Introduction

This course introduces the basic concepts of each machine available in the digital workshop and explains the foundations of proper working procedures that Raplab follows to conduct its work.

You can enroll in this course only after completing the safety introduction. The course qualifies you to use the digital workshop independently after showing the completed exercise to me.

Who is this course for?

This introduction course is for the BA (3rd semester and above), MA, MAS, and Ph.D. program students and employees of the Department of Architecture ETH Zurich that need access to the digital workshop of the Raplab.

What will I learn?

You will get an overview of the following topics:

  1. Detailed overview of the Raplab digital workshop (DWS) and its machines.
  2. Introduction to the fundamentals of the machinery.
  3. Summary of the materials that can be processed.

How do I complete the course?

To complete this course, users must study all the listed learning material to prepare for the Moodle quiz and independently complete an exercise that demonstrates their proficiency in using the machines.
 
Reading through the content and completing the quiz will take about two hours. An additional hour is required to complete the in-person exercise. 

02 Raplab Course: Wood Workshop

Wood Workshop Introduction

The Moodle course “Raplab: Wood Workshop Introduction” introduces the basic safety concepts of each machine available in the wood workshop and explains the foundations of safe working procedures that we at Raplab follow to conduct our work.

You can enroll in this course only after completing the safety intro. This Moodle course is the preparation for the in-person introduction. Both must be completed to get access to the wood workshop.

Who is this course for?

This
introduction course is for the BA, MA, MAS, and Ph.D. program students
and employees of the department of architecture ETH Zurich that need
access to the digital workshop of the Raplab.

What will I learn?

You will get an overview of the following topics:

  1. Detailed overview of the Raplab wood workshop (HWS) and its machines.
  2. Introduction to the fundamentals of the machinery.
  3. Summary of the materials that can be processed.
  4. Basic safety rules and best practices related to each machine.

How do I complete the course?

To complete this course, users must complete the Moodle quiz after studying the learning material.
It will take about two hours to read through the content and complete the quiz.

Adhesives

Adhesives For Model Building

This list explains some of the basic types of adhesives commonly used in model and prototype building and should serve as an overview to guide you in the right direction. Please do your research for specific application techniques and safety procedures for chemicals and adhesives before using them. Always work in well ventilated areas and wear your personal protective equipment if necessary.

 

More information on adhesives can be found on www.materialarchive.ch

PVA Glue

Polyvinyl Acetate Glue is typically sold as white glue and used on various materials – mostly paper and wood. Objects that must be joined permanently need clamping pressure to form an acceptable bond. PVA glue is stronger than wood, meaning that the material will fail before the glue does. The glue is excellent for gluing edges of the cardboard and is fast curing if applied in small amounts. Model builders typically apply PVA glue with a toothpick to the delicate edges of the card to avoid excess moisture and slow curing.

Materials: Wood, MDF, Paper, Cardboard, Leader, Foam Board

Further reading...

CA Glue 

Cyanoacrylate Glue is the go-to glue for professional model builders. It typically comes in three types of viscosities. Low viscosity for fixing cracks and applications that rely on capillary action. Medium viscosity for general purposes and low viscosity for applications where the glue needs to fill small gaps. CA glue can be used with a dedicated accelerator to speed up the curing process. For special purposes, the glue can be mixed with talcum powder to form a soft putty for filling and sanding or baking powder to instantly cure the glue and form a hard, durable joint.

Materials: MDF, Wood, PU Block, PS

Further reading...

Contact Adhesive

Contact Adhesives can join a wide variety of different materials. The process typically involves applying the glue to both sides of the joint, waiting for a couple of minutes for the glue to dry, and then pressing the two parts together. The glue is activated by pressure. This technique lends itself to applications where large surfaces must be laminated together and are not used in wood joinery or constructions where edges are joined. Typical applications are laminating some top layer to a substrate like in veneering or for joining foam.

Materials: Laminates, Foam

Further reading...

PU Glue

Polyurethane Glue is activated by moisture and tends, depending on the type of glue, to expand (foam). The foaming action helps with filling any voids in unregular surfaces and parts. Typical applications range from installing door frames to manufacturing plywood prototypes. PU Glue is a niche product in model building and is primarily used for laminated plywood or difficult glue-up situations. 

Materials: Wood, Plywood, Veneer

Further reading...

Dichloromethane

Dichloromethane is a clear, water-like, odorless solvent that can be used to join acrylic glass and polystyrene. It creates an almost clear joint by opening the chemical bond of the plastics to fuse them back together once the solvent is gone. Dichloromethane is extremely toxic and volatile. It should be used sparingly and with caution only in well-ventilated areas. Alternatives to Dichloromethane have specially formulated CA Glues for PMMA that have reduced off-gassing characteristics.

Materials: PMMA, PS

Further reading...

Epoxy

Two-component epoxy glues are in model building most commonly used in the form of 5min epoxies when dissimilar materials like wood and metal need to be joined somehow. Epoxy glues, in general, have a wide variety of applications ranging from boat building and the aviation industry back to the hobby market. Remember that epoxy produces an exothermal reaction during the curing process that can lead to extreme temperatures and even fire. Always mix small batches of epoxy (<100g) and spread excess glue on a flat surface for curing. 

Materials: Wood, Aluminium, Composites

Further reading...

Spray Adhesive

Spray Adhesives come in high strength and positional variants. In modelbuilding, the prepositional one is mainly used for gluing paper layouts to parts for cutting and sanding. The high strength or permanent type can be used to clad volumetric models with paper, veneer, or fabric.  Besides these two main ones, you can find an assortment of more specialized spray adhesives on the market, for example, for gluing polystyrene or foam.

Materials: Paper, Veneer, Fabric

Hot Glue

Generally speaking, hot glue has a bad reputation among model builders because of its strong association with bricolage. Nothing could be further from the truth – hot glue, applied properly, is fast and clean. Model builders use hot glue for all sorts of applications where water-tight joints must be created, like in mold building and in situations where you have to speed up an assembly process. For example, when you join wood, a drop of hot glue holds the parts together while the PVA glue dries. Not a method employed by fine furniture makers, but a valid way to get things done in the model shop.

Materials: Foamboard, Corrugated cardboard, PMMA, Leather

Further reading...

Silicone

Silicones are available in various formulations that highly depend on the use case. Silicone which is important as glue, comes in the form of caulking and is used in the building industry as an elastic sealant for different materials. In the model building shop, silicone adhesive is used for mold making and joining glass and mirrors. Ensure that the parts that need to be joined are grease-free before applying any silicone and allow for drying overnight for best results.

Materials: Glass, Mirrors

Further reading…

Construction Adhesive

Construction adhesive as a very high initial tack that eliminates the need for clamping, making it ideal to fix something to a wall or a ceiling without any extra work. In the model shop construction adhesive is mostly used to join concrete parts or to mount an exhibition piece to a wall.

Materials: Concrete, Plaster Board, Wood

Double-Sided Tape

Double-sided tapes have become more and more capable in the last couple of years. They are useful for provisionally attaching facades or other parts to a model and permanently joining parts. Being on the lookout for new applications and types of double-sided tapes is always a good idea. The vastness of different types of tape for different applications demands a good technical understanding to find the right tape for any application. In the model shop, the simple double-sided tape used for carpets is the most versatile one and is frequently used to hold parts on jigs for sanding and gluing down sheet stock to different substrates. 

Materials: various

Extrusion

Plaster Extrusions

Scale: Free
Material: Plaster, PMMA, Wood, Shellac

The Basic Design

For this tutorial, a simple profile was chosen as the basis for creating a plaster extrusion that gets assembled into a ring of eight segments. 

Having methods and techniques at hand that allow the creation of complex objects is of great importance in model building. It allows the designer to think in different materials and lets him or her express form in a more precise way.

Keep in mind that you will benefit the most from working with this material if you apply your twists and variations to it and do not just follow the examples.

Material

Plaster, properly understood, can be used in different stages of its hardening process. The most common way of working with plaster is, of course, pouring, but carving, sculpting, extruding, and even turning is possible. 
The extrusion process takes advantage of the fact that plaster has a gentle curing curve. Freshly mixed, it is too liquid to be of use for extruding the material, and a bit of patience is needed to get to the right consistency where the plaster is almost like cream cheese. In this phase, plaster builds up quickly and can be extruded into nearly any shape.   
 
Further reading: Plaster basics

Technique – Extruding Plaster

A simple plaster jack can be built with wood and laser-cut acrylic.

Prepare the plaster for your profile in multiple buckets to always have the right consistency at hand.

Building up the first part that will become the mold for the profile.

Applying shellac as separating agent before the changing the template.

Building up the profile with the profile template. This can be done without the jack for short sections 

Clean the plaster jack / template frequently for best results.

The final pass uses a relatively liquid plaster that fills in the last little voids.

After 20-30min the profile can be carefully separated from the base.

Plaster can be cut with a dedicated bandsaw.

The parts can be glued with super glue after applying shellac to the surfaces that need to be joint together.

Lightly press the assembly with the help of some painters tape for 10-15min to allow for the hardening of the glue.

Examples

01 Raplab Course: Introduction and Safety

Raplab Introduction And Safety

Hello! I’m so glad you decided to enroll in this course. I’m Federico, your course facilitator.

I will be your guide on this journey. Please email me directly at any point if you have questions or concerns. 

We appreciate feedback, so if you notice anything about this course that could help improve your experience, don’t hesitate to mention it.

This course provides an overview of the general work safety rules that apply during your studies, research, or work at the department. It ensures that everyone is well-informed and prepared for a safe working environment.

By taking this course, you acknowledge your active part in upholding safe working procedures by adhering to our work guidelines. You commit to making others aware of violations against our work safety standards. 

Upon completing the Moodle Quiz at the end of this section, you will be eligible to enroll for all other workshop introductions and in-person classes. This will allow you to access the wood, plaster, or digital workshop of the Raplab, enhancing your practical skills and knowledge.

Who is this course for?

This course is specifically designed for BA, MA, and Ph.D. Students, teaching staff, and employees of the Department of Architecture ETH Zurich.

What will I learn?

  1. You will receive an overview of the Raplab and its infrastructure
  2. You will get an introduction to work safety
  3. You will get a refresher in first aid
  4. You will understand best practices for a safe work environment

How do I complete the course?

Users must pass the Moodle quiz after studying the learning material below to complete this course.

Estimated time to complete the course: 1h

Ephemeral permanence

EPHEMERAL PERMANENCE 1:1

Workshop Dates: 20 June – 1 July 2022, Aalborg Denmark

CONTEXT AND GOALS
The most sustainable construction materials are those we already have. Reusing what already exists is at the heart of circular construction and a fundamental element of more sustainable architecture. If a building cannot be used anymore and faces demolition, we must at least reclaim its components. On the technical side, the major components should be recognized and reintroduced into the market. On the design side, this new broader notion of materiality pushes toward an availability-based design that also shapes the way how we decide on forms, connections, component arrangements, and spaces. This quest for circular thinking also applies to the spaces we re-create in the process, they should likewise be understood as ephemeral resources that we need to cultivate towards a viable permanent development of the urban environment. With this ambitious design and build workshop, taking place in an actual site of ongoing urban development in Aalborg, we explore this dual structural and architectural challenge, raising the questions: 

How (different) would structures look like if based on reclaimed components?

Could they also directly embrace the further reuse of their components?

What new sorts of architectural spaces can be re-created here and with what urban perspectives?

 

Registration:

https://www.icsa2022.create.aau.dk/international-1-1-workshop/

Ephemeral permanence poster

House

House

Scale: 1:200
Material: MDF, Paint, Paper and others

The Basic Design

For this tutorial, we’ve chosen a simple house shape based on a familiar archetype of the pitched roof with a slight variation to add a bit of interest. Feel free to experiment and make up your criteria for finding exciting shapes and solutions, or try the techniques demonstrated in this post on one of your designs to work in a more realistic setting.
 
Keep in mind that you will benefit the most from working with this material if you apply your twists and variations to it and do not just follow our examples.

Material Choice

There are two routes to choose from. In this application, professional model builders would work with a dense polyurethane block material (Renshape, Ureol, Sika Block, Obomodulan). These materials have several advantages like they’re fast to work with, have no internal stress, and can be painted with several finishes. On the other hand, these highly specialized models are too expensive to use during the design process. 

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is readily available in most parts of the world and can even be picked up as scraps from carpenters for model building purposes. On the scale of 1:200, a 16mm MDF plate relates to a typical floor height (~3.2m), and on the scale of 1:500, a 6mm MDF does the same (~3m). The relationship between material thickness and floor height allows us to incorporate the natural divisions of a glued-up block into our models.

Techniques For Working With MDF

Gluing

MDF is best glued with white glue or medium viscosity super glue.

Cutting

MDF blocks can be cut to rough dimensions with the bandsaw.

Template Sanding

MDF can be shaped on the disc sander to precise dimensions with the help of a printed layout that is applied with removable spray adhesive.

Final Sanding

Is best done by hand with 220 grit sandpaper mounted to a flat surface or with a self made sanding block.

Tinting

Applying emulsion paint thinned down with water with a soft brush results in a seethrough finish. This technique is ideal for buildings that are relevant to the context of your design.

Filler

Brush on a thick layer of emulsion paint as filler for MDF. After drying, the block is sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and ready for spray painting. Repeat the process if the block still feels porous after sanding

Painting

After sanding the filler, you can apply any acrylic spray paint to color your volume.

Paper Laminate

For a discrete mat finish paper can be glued to the volume by applying spray adhesive.

Facade

A simple way of adding detail to the block is to glue a laser-cut acrylic or card facade to the volume. This technique requires additional sanding and finishing and shows the method’s potential for designing with models – the model transforms as the project evolves.

Examples

Sawing

Sawing

Scale: –
Material: Basswood

The Basic Design

Using a handsaw is a liberating experience. Once mastered, the saw allows for intricate cuts with very high precision. Other tools would require complex jigs and work holding devices to achieve similar results. 
 

Following this freedom of cutting at any angle, we chose simple cubes as a starting point. The incisions are based on simple geometric constraints, like diagonals and mid-points. Repeating the pattern results in a longer profile marked with the help of a laser-cutter. The exercise tries to combine the advantages of analog and digital work so that both approaches work together to achieve the final result. 

Supplemental material on cube subdivisions and the original material in terms of geometry can be found in the book: Papier, Versuche zwichen Geometrie und Spiel by Franz Zeier

Keep in mind that you will benefit the most from working with this material if you apply your twists and variations to it and do not just follow the examples.

Material

Basswood is frequently used for model building due to its great workability. It can be worked with machine or hand tools equally well and comes in a reasonable variety of dimensions, some of them already planed to size, others rough and more suited for larger work. Model builders like basswood because of its gentile and none dominate grain, a feature that allows for intricate details to be displayed without distraction by decorative grain that you often see in other species of wood. Further processing in the form of staining or painting is possible and the wood takes a wide variety of finishes. Generally it can be said that basswood is elastic and soft and a great material for carving, even across the grain. The trade off of its workability is the low impact resistance and low compressive strength.
 
It should be noted that sharp tools are a must due to the softness of the wood.  

The Method

A simple handsaw and a pairing chisel are all that is needed to complete this example. 

We can use the laser cutter for more than just cutting cardboard, and it is an indispensable tool for lots of other things – like marking – as well.

The handsaw is placed next to the cutting line to start the cut, and one hand helps guide the saw during the initial strokes.

Frequently check your progress and make sure that you advance your cut on both lines.

Not ideal, but cutting weird angles and under challenging conditions becomes easier with practice.

Use the lines as a guide while pairing with the chisel to your final surface.

And where would we be without our sanding blocks? A self-made sanding block helps to keep trouble spots in check.

Examples