ART4642C Digital Fabrication: Fab Lab

Semester: Spring 2011
Course Credit Hours: 3
Professor: Anthony Castronovo
Office Hours: By appointment
Office Location: FAD 225
Class meets T/H 3:00 - 6:00pm in FAC 306
Graduate Assistant: Kenny Wilson (
The Art & Architecture Fabrication Lab is located in ARCH 307

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Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.-Oscar Wilde

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.-Ansel Adams

This course is an in-depth exploration of the world of digital fabrication and contemporary art. Students will create projects by utilizing the Art & Architecture Fabrication Laboratory’s advanced facilities (including laser cutting, 3D scanning, rapid prototyping and manufacturing). We will consider digital fabrication in the context of an evolving discussion of the possibilities and limitations of the digitally mediated object in contemporary art practice. Central questions include: What role can customized items play in an expanded artwork? How does an object's method of production influence it's role as an art object? How can we use this equipment to expand the various fields of contemporary art? What does it mean to be able to translate objects from a virtual to a physical environment?

What Do Artists Know?



The course begins with preliminary experiments in laser cutting, 3D modeling, 3D scanning, and 3D printing from digital files, allowing students to become familiar with the technical processes and requisite software. Over the duration of the term, each student plans, develops, and executes a substantial final project using one or more of these technologies. Successful projects reflect thoughtful, playful engagement with course topics, as well as personal artistic voice.



MIT FabLab | Michael Rees | Axel Kilian | Lionel T. Dean | designedobjects blog | Tod Longtin | Bathsheba Grossman | Justin Marshall | Mary Bates Neubauer | Figure | Resa Blatman | Carlos Aires | Wim Delvoye |Scott Campbell | George Hart | Thingiverse | OBJET | MakerBot | Fernando Orellana | Amy Youngs | Collider | Leonel Moura | Rueben Margolin | Shawn Sims


Participation, support, and respect in all phases of this course are imperative. The class dynamic depends on your energy, initiative, attitude, productivity, and willingness to get involved in group discussion and critiques. Participate in a responsive manner during critique and discussion. Complete all assigned readings and take notes so you can contribute to the discussion in class. Make safe and considerate choices with equipment and facilities. Do your part to keep the lab clean. Refrain from phone use, texting, chat, e-mail, and non-course related web surfing during class time. Ask questions and contribute answers. Offer constructive feedback during group discussions, class workdays, and critiques. Reflect on the comments you receive, to gauge the effectiveness of your work. Examine the way your ideas change, evolve, and influence formal and conceptual choices in your work. Development as an artist often hinges on your ability to make effective choices, express ideas clearly, and have fun.


Grades are meant to reflect effort, ideas, and execution. Your overall grade will be based on participation and projects (including creativity, critical thinking, engagement with course information, research, presentation, technical proficiency with hardware and software, aesthetic application of technologies, and problem solving). Expectations will be explained in detail for each project when it is assigned. If anything seems unclear, you are responsible for asking the instructor for clarification far in advance of the due date. The most successful projects will exhibit close connections between their conceptual, technical, and material dimensions. UF grading policies website:

Final grades are based on:


All students are expected to attend every class, prepared to participate. Up to two unexcused absences will be overlooked from a grading standpoint. The overall grade is lowered at the instructor’s discretion for each unexcused absence thereafter. Six or more absences, whether excused or unexcused, will result in a non-passing final grade. Tardiness and/or lack of appropriate class materials are unacceptable and may count as unexcused absences. Projects reflect learning, so you will succeed more easily with perfect attendance. Please refer to UF attendance policies:


Grades for late assignments and projects will be penalized at the instructor’s discretion (usually 20%). No work will be accepted after two class periods from the due date. 3D printing takes a long time, so you MUST meet deadlines for your projects to be included in print batches. Always attend class on project due dates. Even if you are not prepared to turn in your assignment, you still need to participate in discussion.


Please do your own work, or you will fail. Students are expected to abide by the UF Academic Honesty Policy, which defines an academic honesty offense as “the act of lying, cheating, or stealing academic information so that one gains academic advantage.” Familiarize yourself with the academic honesty guidelines set forth by the University of Florida:


Never bring food or drinks into the lab, not even water. Class periods will always include breaks so you can step outside. Save your work onto a portable drive before logging off; files left on lab computers may be erased without warning. FAC 306 lab hours: UF CIRCA lab hours:


Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students office. The Dean of Students will provide documentation to the student who will then provide this to the instructor when requesting accommodation. The ADA office is located in Room 232 Stadium. Phone: (352) 392-7056 TDD: (352) 846-1046


This resource covers important policies and procedures for students:


301 Peabody Hall PO Box 114100, Gainesville, FL 32609-4100 Phone: (352) 392-1575.


Please familiarize yourself with the UF SA+AH Health and Safety Handbook, available online: Sign and return the waiver distributed on the first day of class. You are responsible for helping maintain the safety of the labs, especially by keeping them clean and free of trash and debris. Pick up after yourself, or your final grade will be lowered at the instructor’s discretion. Michael Christopher ( is the area contact for health and safety issues. The following is an overview of the health and safety information specific to digital media art classes.

Area Specific Information: Digital Media

  1. Hazards of Materials
    Batteries, old monitors, lamps form digital projectors if broken may release mercury. THERE ARE NO KNOWN HEALTH HAZARDS FROM EXPOSURE TO LAMPS THAT ARE INTACT.
  2. Best Practices
    Though not much is generated, the Digital Media technician is certified for handling Hazardous Waste by the University of Florida. For installations or sculptural elements, please cross-reference with other area specific information as needed.
  3. Area Rules
    • Follow all SA+AH Health and Safety handbook guidelines.
    • Alcohol is not permitted (open or closed containers).
    • No smoking in the building or within 50 feet of the entry.
    • No eating or drinking in the lab.
    • Shoes must be worn at all times.
    • Protective equipment must be worn for hazardous work.
    • Do not block aisles, halls or doors with stored items or when working. This is a violation of fire codes.
    • Do not store anything on the floor. This impeded cleaning and creates a hazard.
    • Do not park bikes in the building.
    • Clean up spills immediately.
    • Take items which do not fit into the trash to the dumpster, follow dumpster guidelines.


There are 2 types of labels used in the SA+AH-- Yellow and White. Both labels are found at the red MSDS box and are supplied by the SA+AH. Each is used for a different purpose.

All new and or used product in containers (hazardous or what might be perceived as hazardous -i.e. watered down gesso, graphite solutions, satellite containers of solvents, powders, spray paints, fixatives, oils, solvents, etc…) must be labeled within the SA+AH to identify their contents. Labels can be found at the MSDS box in each studio and work area. All containers must be marked with your name, contents and date opened. All secondary/satellite containers for hazardous materials must be marked with content, your name and the date opened. All unmarked containers will be disposed of with no notice.

WHEN HAZARDOUS ITEMS ARE DESIGNATED AS TRASH. All containers must have a yellow label identifying the contents that are designated as trash for weekly EHS pick up.

Note: Hazardous Waste labels should include all constituents in the waste mixture as well as an approximate percentage of the total for that item and must add up to 100%. Labels should also include the Bldg and room number of the shop generating the waste along with the Waste Manager for your area, this is located on the SWMA sign posted at the sink or at the Waste Management Area.


Jan 6• Introduction to course and each other, look over the syllabus, talk about expectations....Discussion of tool/media. HW: Read Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction consider the context of the writing, the technology of then and now. How does this argument apply today? ALSO: spend some time looking at the artist links above, do further research, come in ready to talk.

Jan 11• Talk about contemporary artists. Discussion of Walter Benjamin, relevance of the essay today. Begin Illustrator Tutorials.

Jan 13• Fab Lab orientation. Discuss materials and various applications.

Jan 18• Illustrator Tutorials.

Jan 20• Illustrator Tutorials.

Jan 25• Studio time in Fab Lab, students must have test files and materials to experiment with.

Jan 27• Studio work day.

Feb 1• Studio work day.

Feb 3• Studio work day.

Feb 8• First Critique: Laser Cutter Project•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Feb 10• Introduction to Maya. 2 Readings for Tues: Fried and Lippard

Feb 15• Discuss readings. Maya tutorials, bring in an object to model.

Feb 17• Maya Tutorials. HW: finish modeling objects, .

Feb 22• Studio Work Day.

Feb 24• Studio Work Day.

Mar 1•Discussion of readings...Studio Work Day.

Mar 3• Second Critique: Rapid Prototypes•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Mar 5-12• No Classes, Spring Break!!!

Mar 15• Intro to 3D Scanner.

Mar 17• tutorials on importing, file types, and clean-up of scans. Work on scans for remainder.

Mar 22• Altered 3D Scans due•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Mar 24• Present proposals for final project.

Mar 29•Individual meetings with Anthony to discuss materials and build of final project.

Mar 31• Discuss readings, look at more artists.

Apr 5• In process review: students present projects.

Apr 7• Studio Work Day.

Apr 12• Studio Work Day.

Apr 14• Studio Work Day.

Apr 19• Last day of class. Final Citique••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••