After two cancelled visits due to two snowstorms, Payette’s Young Designer’s Core (YDC) finally had the chance to visit Payette’s Fabrication Lab in Charlestown. Payette Architect, Parke MacDowell led the tour around the space, which includes a brand new CNC machine, a handmade shelf for materials, a small room separated from the large space for acoustic reasons and remnants of past and present projects that utilized the shop. The shop will also have hand built working tables that are large enough to accommodate the models that will be built in the future.
History of the Space
When Payette started working in the space, it was very barren. They worked on the infrastructure, adding new electrical and a room for sound control. Inside the small room lives an air compressor, dust collector and a vacuum pump. When the door to this room was closed Parke could speak at a regular volume and be heard, but when the door was open even shouting was barely comprehensible due to the loudness of the machines.
The CNC tutorial Parke ran us through was for new signage for the space, specifically something to hang on the door with the Payette logo. He started with a file in Rhino with randomly placed dots, the dots were then connected to the next closest dot to create a continuous toolpath. The lines were more clustered at the “Payette” text making it stand out from the rest of the pattern. The program Mastercam gave a 3D visualization of how the CNC machine would carve the pattern. The file was then put on a USB and inserted into the CNC machine.
There were a couple of things that I’ve never seen before that I found really interesting, for example the CNC can change its own tools. It unscrews a bit off and moves to re-screw a new bit on. Another interesting aspect of the machine was the dust collector that covered the bit to collect the dust particles as the CNC moved. The machines I’ve used before didn’t include these two features. For safety there is also the classic, big red button on the wall that can be pushed to turn off everything in the room except for the lights. As we watched the CNC carve the Payette logo, we were mesmerized as it dipped and engraved the wood, with the precision like that of a renaissance sculptor.
An exciting part of the Fabrication Lab is some of the ideas that will be implemented in the future. One of which is workshops and educational tutorials on subjects such as a masterclass on welding, or Mastercam. Parke’s motto is that, “the shop isn’t about the tools, it’s about the approach to design.”