About jponitz

Assistant Professor in Architecture at Cal Poly University

Extra Credit: Materials

In less than two weeks we will form five teams, working with five materials, and begin the next phase of research using the CNC router. If you are able to secure a new material for the class, not only will you get 5% extra credit towards your final grade for the course, you will get to choose what material you’re using for the rest of the quarter. What could be better?!? Since it’s pretty easy (and pretty boring) to find a material like MDF at a store like Home Depot, I ask that you search for different materials, slightly off the beaten path. They could be off-cuts from a local manufacturer or job site, a donation from a national corporation, or a good find from a store just out of town–be resourceful! When you think you have a supplier (or an idea for a material), post a comment below, and we’ll determine if it’s usable.

Material Requirements:

  • Should have a relatively predictable length and width–minimum area of 2 sq ft
  • Preferably between 1/4″ and 4″ thick
  • No toxic materials such as PVC
  • No cementitious materials
  • No ferrous metals (aluminum is OK)
  • No hidden metals (such as buried nails or staples)
  • Affordable (your team will be paying for it, so the definition of “affordable” is up to you)

Examples of materials (though you’re welcome to find others):

  • Cast acrylic (not to be confused with extruded acrylic, which is softer, more flexible, and melts on the router)
  • Corrugated Polycarbonate or other plasticsĀ (Solexx is one manufacturer)
  • Foam (other than blue foam)
  • Homosote or similarly soft recycled paperboard
  • Honeycomb or similarly rigid paperboard
  • Soapstone
  • Corian or similar composite
  • Hardwood or softwood
Happy hunting!