Map~From ECNU to NYUSH~
Overview, Concept & Purpose:
My project is basically a 3D map, showing a part of Shanghai metro lines. The skeleton is made by laser cutted acryl. Different colors of lines come from vinyl cutting, and the character figures for stations are achieved by MDF laser cutting.
The concept it’s conveying is of several layers. First, it’s a footprint of my everyday life, getting on metro and travelling in Shanghai this modern city, my hometown. Second, for NYUSH community, my map intentionally set the old NYUSH (ECNU) and NYUSH on Century Avenue as starting and ending point. It thus represents a collective memory of our community. Last but not least, the map is a combination of “modern” and “tradition”. Colorful lines of metro stand for high technology and modern city life, however, the wooden patterns of stations, with traditional Chinese fonts rastered, are symbolizing the hidden “old” Shanghai in every roaring busy street.
This project is aesthetic and educational oriented. As an aesthetic piece of work, it’s delivering beauty, and the concept I metioned above. Also, it’s interesting if you learn the Chinese characters, and refer them one by one to the 2D metro map.
I got my first inspiration from this photo that I took in IKEA months ago. It’s a world map decorating on the wall as part of the room, which gives residents an aesthetic enjoyment. The part that I like the most of this design, is the constrast between the texture. The blue wall paper and the light brown wood. This contrast gives a sense of consice but rich in meaning, since the earth we live in is covered by woods, plants and blue oceans. Then I went on to do online research about digital fabricated map, and found there are so many works made of various textures.
river(laser cut) city map (paper cut) city map(laser raster) city map (laser cut+raster)
I got super interested in the city planning maps. I found one amazing piece of work about Berlin. As you can see from the picture below, the delicate and ingenious planning of the city gets fully showed from the cutting technique. This artwork really provides me with an aesthetic view towards cities. So, based on this inspiration, I decide to make a map of my city Shanghai. At first I wanted to the same as the Berlin one, however, I found that a metro line map may be more interesting for following reasons: I take metro every day, and it’s a footprint of my life; metro line is representating the high tech of Shanghai, while contrasting the “ancient” wood texture, gives audience of deep think of the city; Metro line map of center Shanghai is basically a perfect rectangle, which makes it easier to handle.
Process, Material & Method: (Explain the method you used to design, and the reasons you had to select your digital fabrication approach. Describe the materials you used and how they functioned in achieving your purpose).
Step 1: Initial Prototype
Material: Illustrator (shape tool)
I got this picture of metro line in center Shanghai, as you can see, it’s nearly a perfect rectangle, and contains ECNU (old NYUSH) and NYUSH both!
Then, I basically drew the position of each stop, and designed different symbols. For stops with no transfer, they are round figure, for stops with one transfer line, they are rounded-rectangels, and for stops with more than one transfer lines, they are BIGGER rounded rectangles!
Step 2: Preparing for laser cutting
Material:Illustrator (pen tool)
Next, I set the finished shapes in one layer, and make them transparent in 40 percent. Using pen tools, I created the irregular shape connecting stops and lines together. It took me some time to do it, cause I have to be very careful about anchor points, joints and curves. The borders are set to 0.1 weight, however to show it clearly on screen, I make it 2 pt here.
Trace the shapes on lower layers Ready for laser cutting!
Step 3: Laser cutting
Material: Acryl 3mm ; laser cutter
I sent the file to PC in lab, and did a test with cardboard. It’s quite successful so I went on doing cutting with acryl board.
The reason that I choose acryl rather than other materials, the most important one, it’s transparent, which offers a kind feeling of “modern”, contrasting to the “ancient” wood texture feeling that I use in other parts of the project. Also, I have never used acryl before, so just want to have a try.
With the help of Cindy, I tried the prototype on cardboard first, and it worked quiet well, so I printed the whole board on acryl successfully.
A video showing how it works:
First try Materials left The final product!
Step 4: Preparing for Vinyl Cutting
Material:Illustrator (Pen tool; Filling tool); CanvasWorkplace
Then I went back to illustrator to create colorful lines. Since I’ve got 13 different lines(plus HuangPu River!), initially, I created 13 different layers with different colors, and save them as different .svg files by unhidding layers one by one. However, after I did this and worked in Canvas workplace, it turned out that CanvasWorkplace will recognize the hidden layers. Thus, I have to copy paste 13 layers in 13 black illustrator files, and save them as .svg seperately. I took me some time to figure this out! I had to be very careful when naming them, or the following vinyl cutting work may go wrong.
After saving all the .svg files, I uploaded them to CanvasWorkspace one by one, and downloaded them as .fcm files. One thing to notice is that, since my whole piece of work is 40cm x 30 cm, bigger than the vinyl cutting platform paper, for some lines, I have to divide them into to parts and print seperately.
fill lines with colors 13 layers the 7th layer “blue” on Canvas Workspace
Step 5: Vinyl Cutting
Material: Vinyl cutter; colorful adhesive paper; pen knife
After preparing all the files, I just plugged in the USB and printed out 13 lines one by one, and then stick them on the prepared acryl skeleton. The reason I chose vinyl cutting for this step, first, I don’t think laser cutting is appropriate for adhesive paper, also, I want to make use all kinds of tools to see how they work. It turned out quiet good.
Step 6: Preparing laser cutting for stations
Material:Illustrator (pen tool, shape tool, text…)
Considering about the stations, I was very hesitated at first. I considered using vinyl cutting on fluorescence paper or adhesive paper at first. I deisgned identical patterns for each stop, like:
with these pictures, I suppose the whole project can be more vivid.
I tried them for about two hours. However, the outcome was far from satisfactory.
- Shapes for stations are basically 2cm x 2cm or less, which is too small for vinyl cutting, also, the pictures are too complicated. I used both kinds of paper, they just slide when cutter finishes the outline at once.
- It’s too much work to stick the vinyl cutted patterns on acryl one by one.
So I decided to give up on vinyl cutting, Kristine suggested me that I could use laser cutting because it’s super accurate. I got her! Also, if I can do laser cutting with MDF, the wood like texture surly contrasts the “modern” colorful metro lines a lot. To make the design of stations more traditional and cultural representative, I took use of the first character of each stop, and used 3 types of traditional Chinese font. It looks like this now:
Step 7: Laser Cutting! Again!
Material: MDF 3mm; laser cutter; hot glue
Finally, I got here! I sent my file in laser cutter and it worked quiet well! I do the raster for one time and cutting for 2 times, the whole process took about 25 minutes. After that, I tried to glue all these patterns on acryl by liquid paste, however, they fell off very often. Kristine suggested me again that I could use hot glue gun. It took me about 20 min gluing all the patterns, it gets much better.
how it looks in laser cutter an example “曹”
Conclusion & Reflection:
( Answering “Explain the reasons you have to create this physical object as your final project, and why it is interesting to use digital fabrication techniques to design and create it.”)
I learned a lot from this final project, to conclude, there are basically 2 aspects:
In this project, I played with laser cutter(acryl and MDF ), vinyl cutter(all kinds of paper!). I learned how to use hot glue gun, meanwhile, I worked a lot on illustrator with pen tool, which I was not super familiar with before. What’s more, I got familiar with CanvasWorkspace this platform for vinyl cutting. I got to know how to deal with patterns if they are larger than cutting platform. Nicolas taught me to save space when doing laser cutting, cause also, it’s saving time. I learned different attributes of various materials, and had a basic idea under what circumstances they would better fit particular project.
2. Concept of fabrication:
In this class, we are taught to design functional, aesthetic, amusing… things out of digital fabrication technique. In doing this project, I reflected on what the concept “digital fabrication” is conveying. It’s different from handmade fabrication, on a sense that it’s more accurate, and it makes it possible combining various textures together in one piece of work.
I create this physical object as my final project, to respond my reflection that “digital fabrication makes it possible combining various textures together in one piece of work”. Also, I think this project is delivering the accuracy, productiveness of digital fabrication that handmade fabrication can never achieve, for example, the cutting of acryl, and the tiny characters on MDF material. I believe digial fabrication brings artists more room for creation, and more ways to bring their imagination into reality. I feel enjoyable in this process, combining high-tech and tradition together in a nature way.