more extensively than ever before, because of the verynature of the digital format it has become more costeffective and efﬁcient to manufacture model components.Multiple parts can be produced quickly and accurately,the process has the beneﬁt of speeding up the outputtime if a model is required at the end of a short deadlineor for a quick sketch models. To discuss the large numberof different approaches and techniques comprehensivelyrequires an entire book in its own right as mentionedearlier, therefore this section describes some of the morecommon opportunities presented by using computersas part of the modelmaking process. There is no doubtthat computers have revolutionized architectural design,and yet despite initial speculation that physical modelsmay become extinct and be replaced by their virtualcounterparts, the current situation illustrates that they arein fact experiencing something of a renaissance.
A signiﬁcant number of universities now offerthese modelmaking processes to architecture studentsas part of their workshop resources. As stated earlier, thesuccess of this process is determined by the accuracy bywhich the initial modelling data is constructed using CAD software. Therefore it is essential that all relevantinformation such as site topography, façade proﬁles and apertures is included before the CNC machine is involved.Without this the machine cannot operate properly and soextra care should be taken to check dimensions and theCAD ﬁle format otherwise the data will not be correctly‘plotted’. It is recommended that test runs are carried outas machines may vary, for example the cutting head maymove directly on or either side of the CAD line, so thatvaluable time and material is not wasted. Digital drawingswill more often than not need editing signiﬁcantly beforethey are used to cut anything on a CNC machine. MostCNC machines will use their own manufacturer’s cuttersoftware for machining, but importing CAD DXF ﬁles orDWG ﬁles from AutoCAD or other software packages isalso a good option. Digital drawings have the beneﬁt ofbeing in a constant state of change in the design process,this is vital if a design needs accurate detail changes andvisualisation of those amendments. Materials that may beused with a CNC machine are those that are available insheet format, the thicknesses of which vary depending onthe material. Metals such as aluminium, brass and steelcan be used in thicknesses up to 5mm, whilst acrylic glassand some plastics along with wood-based products such asMDF and plywood can be used in much larger thicknessesdepending on the size of the machine. If you are in anydoubt as to the suitability of a material it is important toconsult an expert such as the workshop staff.