With the help of experts and academics, as well as a plethora of useful fabrication equipment, high-tech robots, and its miter saw fence, ingenious creations are bubbling out of the Autodesk Technology Center that will positively impact the lives of many.
The Autodesk Technology Center exists in the heart of Boston’s innovation community. It is an epicenter of creativity and ingenuity located with Autodesk’s flagship East Coast office in Boston, arguably one of the world’s most ground-breaking and entrepreneurial cities. The office is conveniently located in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District and shares fairly close quarters with some of the top scientific and medical research institutions in the world: Harvard, MIT, the Broad, Mass General, and the list goes on.
Originally called the Autodesk BUILD Space—BUILD stands for B-Building, I-Innovation, L-Learning, and D-Design—the Autodesk Technology Center is a space for exploration and advancements in the building and infrastructure industries, including fabrication and construction.
Space to Create
The 34,000-square-foot facility is home to state-of-the-art fabrication equipment and advanced machinery. Here, those who are looking to create are given the tools to do so. Research teams, startups, engineers, academics, and design professionals collaborate and build together in the communal space. It’s the perfect incubator for those who need expert advice and training with unlimited access to high tech tools.
“The [Autodesk Technology Center] program provides space for research and startup teams to collaborate, experiment, and build for the days, weeks or months it might take to complete projects or prototypes.”
There is even an in-residence program that supports various teams turning ideas into reality. “The [Autodesk Technology Center] supports teams from industry, practice, and academia as well as startups and Autodesk employees who are researching and working on forward-looking topics like digital fabrication, designing for sustainability, construction automation, industrialized construction, design robotics and more.”
Those involved in the in-residence program include Pillar Technologies, a Boston-based startup building a hardware-to-software solution to predict and prevent damage on construction sites through the use of on-site sensors; Elkus Manfredi Architects, an architecture and design firm that uses BUILD Space equipment to prototype and develop new techniques for historical preservation; Design That Matters, a nonprofit dedicated to solving problems in developing countries, currently working on a warming bassinet for low-birthweight newborns called the Otter; and Harvard Graduate School of Design|Volkan Alkanoglu’s Graduate Studio, which is designing super-light aluminum structures by applying techniques of the aviation and automobile industry to custom CNC-cut components.
Lo-Fab Pavilion: Robotically Fabricated Gridshell by Nathan King
Recently, the Autodesk Technology Center co-sponsored a project headed by the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research within the school of Architecture + Design, as well as MASS Design Group Rudabega and the United Nathans. The project, an experimental robotically fabricated pavilion, was presented at the Design Boston Biennial. The construction of the unique Lo-Fab Pavilion (locally fabricated) was led by assistant professor of architecture and Autodesk Technology Center member, Nathan King. The pavilion was displayed on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway for just over a year with an estimated 2 million visitors.
Nathan purchased a TigerStop automated fence system to facilitate the fabrication of the pavilion due to all of the custom lengths needed for the intricate lattice system. “The pavilion has 1,400 separate strut lengths,” Nathan told us. “I looked at the SawGear so that the students could easily program these cuts and shorten our production time. All of the data came from a digital model.”
“The wood parts were made using a 12-foot SawGear by TigerStop. The SawGear miter saw fence expedited the cutting of all the wooden members, which are all unique throughout the entire structure,” explains Nathan.
The pavilion, which was created with local materials and the help of countless local volunteers who donated hundreds of hours of labor and roughly $120,000 in monetary contributions, is a quiet respite from the chaotic flurry of foot and vehicle traffic around the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Nathan King explains, “Beyond the artifact, this project is about process … one that enables students, practitioners, industry specialists, and community members to come together and teach each other through making … the act of making, at this scale and complexity, requires collaboration—this is why it is valuable, why we work in this manner, and how the learning of a single project will propagate.”
State-of-the-Art Fabrication Equipment
In addition to a SawGear, the Autodesk Technology Center uses a host of high-tech fabrication tools including a 10-foot TigerStop. The TigerStop miter saw fence has been used on various in-house projects that require precisely cut parts. Not surprisingly so, tape measures have become a thing of the past around the Autodesk Technology Center.
The Technology Center’s impressive list of fabrication equipment can work with and process nearly any material its residents can dream of, including steel, wood, stone, concrete, ceramics, glass, and composites like carbon fiber. The workspace also boasts 6 industrial robots, 11 dedicated workshops for wood, metal fabrication, 3D printing, and laser cutting, as well as a large-format CNC router and a waterjet. There’s even a five-ton bridge crane for large fabrication projects and moving equipment and materials between floors.
For more information about the fabrication equipment used by the team at the Autodesk Technology Center, contact TigerStop today.