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Suburban Building Studios
CNC Router Cuts Time to Produce
Architectural Models fromBy Bill Massie - Suburban Building Studios
New York, NY
A typical project on which Suburban Building Studios used the new CNC router approach is an existing primary school in New York City which was modeled to assist in a renovation and addition project. The existing building was built in the neoclassical style and contained a significant amount of detailing including windows, mullions, modulating brickwork, capstones and door openings, which the architects wanted to include in the model. The elevation of the building, which is 100-feet wide by 40-feet tall, was modeled at a scale of 1/8" to 1-foot. Producing a hand model of the primary school would have taken several weeks and it would have been very difficult to achieve the level of detail and accuracy that the architects required.
While architects typically supply CAD models of their projects, in this case Suburban Building Studios was asked to produce the model. The company used Mastercam CNC programming software from CNC Software, Tolland, Connecticut, which comes with the router. While the router is capable of full 3D contouring, the Suburban Building Studios modeler felt that the elevation was best suited to a multiple layer 2D model. He started by creating a 2D elevation drawing of the structure. Then he copied the drawing 11 times to different layers designed to represent depth in the elevation. For each layer, the modeler deleted the details that did not appear at the appropriate depth. For example, one layer focused entirely on the window mullions while several others emphasized the brick and stone work.
The layers were then combined into a CNC machining program. Each layer represented one pass of the cutting tool with the depth of cut equal to the layer spacing on the actual building when reduced to scale. A high level of detailing accuracy was achieved by using a 0.02 inch diameter cutter. Depth of cut ranged from 1/16" to 1/64".
Once the program was finished, a piece of monochromatic gray plastic board was simply loaded into the router and a few buttons were pushed to start it up. The modeler was then able to walk away while the machine finished the part. The entire process of creating the CAD model, converting to a CNC program and machining the model took just one day. The finished model had far more detail than could ever have been achieved in a hand model.
Suburban Building Studios has found many other applications for the router. It uses CNC techniques to produce architectural competition boards that stand out because the design is engraved right into the boards. It has created full-scale components for design projects such as some special clips used in the Michael Jackson kiosk at the Sony Building in New York City. It has also built some equipment for its own use such as an architectural easel.
In one year of operation, Suburban Building Studios has never had any problems with the router. This is partly due to the strength and rigidity of the table. The Techno router is constructed from extruded aluminum profiles that can support all architectural modeling materials and provides easy clamping capability. The router also has four ground and hardened steel shafts and eight recirculating bearings in each axis. This shaft and bearing system produces very smooth play-free motion and an extremely rigid system that produces high quality cuts.
All in all, the new router has helped Suburban Building Studios dramatically improve its competitive position. The company has much lower cost and higher quality relative to modeling studios and architectural firms that build models by hand. It is also in a strong position relative to larger firms using laser cutting machines, because the machine it used is so much less expensive and easier to use.
2101 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY 11040 | Telephone: 1.800.819.3366 / 516.328.3970 | Fax: 1.516.358.2576