Sarah Hirschman
M.Arch. 2011

With this project, I wanted to both do something that might be useful for me in real life, and also do a test of how you might score or cut aluminum so that it bent in predictable ways. So... this stuff is just a fraction of the many tools and objects that I use every day and need at hand on my desk. Couple that with the fact that I eat three meals a day at my desk, and there's not a whole lot of space left.

So I started fiddling around in Rhino, estimating the sizes of the objects on my desk like a ruler, a pot of rubber cement, a can of spray-mount, etc. I wanted to make sure that it wasn't just a shelving unit, but something more custom-made for the objects themselves.

I exported the Rhino file into a .dxf (check it out for yourself) and then opened it up in OMAX Layout to figure out the cut paths. I made sure to rotate the cutsheet as well, since the dimensions of the waterjet cutter are wide, rather than tall.

Here's the waterjet doing its thing -


You can see where the waterjet cut the aluminum here, and the dusting of garnet around the cutlines.

Here you can see that I tried to use .5" dotted lines to simulate the scoring necessary to get the pieces to fold predictably and straightly.

Here you can see that I tried to create some fold-out arms to hold up a shelf.

To liven up the cut aluminum, I created another cut sheet that included the cut-out lines for the pieces that were cut on the waterjet, as well as large letters that indicate where particular objects fit in. You can download the png file for this here.

Then, on a 20"x30" sheet of green vinyl, I vinyl-cut that template, with the intent of laminating it onto the aluminum sheet.

I used blue painter's tape to keep the vinyl cut pieces together, had a friend help me stick it down somewhat-flat, and used a silkscreen squeegee to smooth it down.

After weeding out the pieces I didn't want on the sheet - the words that could come out of the vinyl that would look good in aluminum - I was able to fold down the pieces of aluminum that were supposed to pop out.

Perfectly orderly!

As you can see, it was a complete success and my desk will never be disorganized ever again. hmmm.