Aluminium Tectonics

Aluminium tectonics

The second session at Ash and Lacy exposed us to the whole process that the team there follow in order to fulfil their clients requirements, from the initial information provided by the client, right through to the end result when they pack the façade panels ready to be distributed.

There were a number of processes we explored:

We were given an insight into the order and design processes where Ash and Lacy can be issued with very basic ideas, dimensions and sketches. They are able to take the client’s ideas and work them into 3D models, which in some cases may initially be produced with paper and card nets to form the models. This is a process that we can adopt during our design stages.

The next process we looked at was the transformation of the sketch models on to CAD, 2D and 3D as well as Panel Builder software.

An on-screen test run was carried out in order to see the order of when certain cuts, routing and drilling would take place by the CNC machine; this is a measure to make sure that there are no mistakes ensuring there is no waste.

One of the main tools used at Ash and Lacy is the Axyz CNC machine. The machine has a number of tool heads which are available, including router, cutting and drilling tools, which come in a number of sizes.

It is necessary to understand the width and depth of a cut into a material, in order that the material can be bent and formed taking into account the thickness of the material when it is being bent.

Another point that was emphasised during this visit to Ash and Lacy was that the Axyz CNC machine’s bed must be cleaned down in order to protect the material so it does not get scratched even with the safety film intact as tiny shards of off cuts can cause damage when cutting, drilling or routing. If this cleaning process is not carried out then the material could be turned into an unusable condition and aesthetically the product would have a poor finish. It is important that we now know how to maintain the quality of the material during our own manufacturing process.

Optimisation is also essential in order to get the most from an ACM or aluminium sheet, so that there is little waste we would position the cuts in a way that maximises the surface area. It is important that we get maximum use out of the material when producing our 1:1 models.

We were given a demonstration on one of the forming processes and we were giving the opportunity to see how malleable ACM actually is. We experienced the forming and fabrication process, having the opportunity to bend the material, drill, and rivet an ACM net onto a façade panel.

It is important for us to apply the processes that Ash and Lacy have in place when making our façade models so that we are able to meet their quality standards.

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