Master´s Thesis 2020 Material Turn

Matthew Tang


The Humanization of Digital Manufacturing

Despite mass productions success in providing most of its residents with adequate housing in a cost-effective way, it can be argued the monotony of mass housing loses some of the richness and individual diversity found in one-off villas or houses. The ability to customise on the mass scale can be reintroduced into an area that is driven by function.

Mass customisation could not be possible without the utilisation of machinery as a tool to mass produce prefabricated building elements. The machine is able to produce many building elements at high precision with optimal material usage only when programmed to do so. The leap between 3D modelling and fabrication is becoming less restrained and designers are starting to value additive manufacturing for its potentials in methods and resulting surface conditions, rather than pure geometric form. Digital fabrication is perhaps most used within representation – we are perhaps not yet unified with the technology. If 3D printing were used more as a design tool, we could perhaps establish a more fluid and designed relationship between us and 3D printing, prompting new kinds of spatial and fabrication possibilities

The thesis explores 3D printing as a medium to bring customisation into mass produced building elements, challenging the conventional method of 3D printing. The perceived loss of craft at the hands of the mechanically driven industrialization and digitally-driven automations is not justified, rather it is the distinct limits of the mass produced materials to be blamed. Opportunities for custom-crafted one-offs have always existed. Digital fabrication merely facilitates the economic viability of bespoke design and can act as a catalyst to new opportunities in mass customisation.